6 Realities of Being an Out-of-State Student

While every out-of-state student’s struggle is different, there are similarities we all face. I happen to be from Minnesota originally, and that’s where my entire family resides. But I’ve also met lots of people who come to UNCW from all over the US--Texas, California, Ohio, Maryland, Washington D.C., Wisconsin…. The list goes on and doesn’t even mention the many students who attend UNCW from abroad.

Whether you’re an out-of-state student from Texas or Maryland or some other state, you might find some truth in the following 6 realities of being an out-of-state student. 



1. Not being able to see family for months at a time.

This one's a biggie. Family is important, and not being able to get a hug from your mom or a lick on the cheek from your favorite furry pup can be quite an emotional challenge for some people. Even if you’re not an out-of-state student but don’t get to see family regularly, you know the struggle. It’s a good thing there’s FaceTime and Skype and care packages from the people you care about most in your life.


2. Having to depend on others for transportation and help if something goes wrong.

While some out-of-state students do have their own vehicles, a lot of us don’t, which makes simple tasks (like grocery shopping) a challenge. Need to go to the doctor off campus? Ask a friend. Want to go to the movies or Wrightsville Beach? Can’t go without someone bringing you. And even if you are lucky enough to have your own transportation, your family is far away and if anything happens to you or your vehicle, immediate support and guidance isn’t a short two hour drive away. But perhaps that’s a good thing. Maybe those types of challenges and setbacks allow all of us college kids to grow up and take a step toward the door of adulthood.


3. Spending (some) holidays by yourself or with a friend’s family.

Holidays are almost as important as family. The two go hand-in-hand, and it can be a sad time for those of us out-of-state students who can’t afford to go home for only a few days. If we don’t want to be alone, we can always go home with a good friend, but even this might not be an appealing offer to some. I’ll be the first to say that staying on-campus alone for holidays is an interesting experience, not because you're by yourself but because campus turns into an abandoned ghost town--creepy and quiet. In the end, it’s only a few years worth of holidays spent without family. Those hours of solitude could be a great time for some real productivity.


4. Paying out-of-state tuition.

We all knew this would happen when we accepted an offer from an out-of-state school. It’s inevitable that we’ll have to pay a few thousand dollars more than our in-state counterparts. And even after researching every possible way we could lower tuition for ourselves, it seems to keep going up each and every year. It’s a bummer, but most of us can agree that it’s totally worth it. Going to school in the nice, warm state of North Carolina with the ocean ten-minutes away? I think yes.


5. Having to learn and adapt to a new set of cultural norms.

There are a whole lot of strange things people do in the South that people don’t do in other regions. For me, coming from the midwest, monograms, Lilly Pulitzer, and sweet tea were all new concepts. In the midwest, Chic-fil-A’s are far and few between and there are no Bojangles or Zaxby’s. Adapting to a humid climate was (and is) practically impossible for me. They dialects and accents I’ve encountered in the South have been a challenge to learn and adapt to as well. No matter where we go, it seems the U.S. is rich in cultural diversity, and it’s our duty to adapt as best we can.


6. Speaking of accents…

Being made fun of for your accent is a common occurrence. Hailing from the midwest, I got made fun of relentlessly freshman year for my accent. For the life of me, I could not pronounce “bag” or “Wag” correctly. Even today, I over-pronounce those words and anything with an “-ag” in it. My Minnesotan accent isn’t likely to go away, so I’ll just have to deal with my friends teasing me. Wherever you’re from, I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience with either being made fun of for your accent or getting funny looks.



Are you an out-of-state student? If so, what has your experience been like so far?