Dealing With Distance: How I Handle College Away From Home

My college is a three-hour drive from home. Three hours from my dog, three hours from my bed, three hours from my mom’s hugs. Three hours, which I’m aware is not the most astounding number of hours to ever divide a girl from her comfort zone, can feel like a lifetime without taking the proper measures. Over the past six months, I’ve developed a hearty box of tools to pull out when I’m really feeling the 219 miles that separate home and me. Because while I agree that I made the right decision to push myself past my comfort bubble and attend college across the state, it isn’t always easy to be so far away.

The simplest tip I can give someone who’s about to move away: Print loads of pictures. Even if you only own one frame, those prints will hold great amounts of healing power while you’re away. Tac pictures of your best friends on the wall above your desk, hang pictures of your family, dogs, and significant other with a string of lights next to your bed and tuck the remaining prints away in a drawer. Why do I advise to print loads of pictures? If you’re anything like me, flipping through physical copies of photos yields a much higher level of sentiment than sliding through photos on a phone gallery. Decorating your new living space with photos is the most effortless way to remind yourself of good memories and the people who love you the most.

Communication has never been easier than it is today. Between social media and the basic functions of our cell phones, keeping in touch even miles apart is done swiftly. I’ve learned to take advantage of the accessibility, calling my parents for a quick conversation between classes, spending hours on video chat with my best friends and texting non-stop all day. It’s easy to fall into a lonely hole in a new space with seemingly nobody to turn to. Take advantage of the technology, though, and see how easy it is to feel like home isn’t so far. A five-minute conversation with the right person can give you the motivation and pick-me-up you need to carry on.

Planning trips back home have been my saving grace while I’m away. Having a certain date to look forward to makes the time apart less bitter, and can change your whole mood and outlook. I’ve found that when I know I'm making a trip home over the weekend, my mood is elevated throughout the entire week. Knowing I'm fortunate enough to go home periodically and see my people has given me the push I need to be present and enjoy my time at school, too. If you don’t have the ability to make trips home other than the allotted breaks in the school year, consider inviting your family and friends to campus for a weekend. All clichés aside, home is wherever you feel love around you.

Home is where we feel the most content, and we can’t expect ourselves to quickly adjust to moving out to an unfamiliar place with ease. That’s why it’s called a comfort zone. Recognizing the feeling of discomfort and facing it head on is a much better way of coping than forcing it down. If you recently moved away, or are planning to in the near future, know that it’s okay to be nervous, excited, scared and everything in between. There are ways to combat the difficult feelings that threaten the good moments.