Finding Yourself in a College Town

Moving to Tampa for college was not my first big move. Halfway through my junior year of high school, I moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Key West, Florida. A pretty big change. I battled homesickness for quite some time, and realized what made me feel happiest in this new town was finding elements of Nashville. Trust me, it is quite the challenge, but it is manageable.

Let me start off with this little disclaimer: Key West has just about nothing in common with Nashville, but there were some hidden gems all around the island. I desperately missed all of the amazing coffee shops Nashville had, so finding the cute little restaurant, Date & Thyme, eased that longing greatly. I missed the Southern culture, so I found myself seeking those with similar beliefs, interests, and mindsets. With a little seeking, I started finding elements of home, which opened up the doors to appreciating all that was now around me. I went from loving rolling hills to loving sunsets on the water.

Photo courtesy of Michala Jackson

This process prepared so well for moving to a college town, Tampa. I was able to dive right into the city, rather than focusing on being homesick. Just like Key West was my new home, Tampa is my *new* new home! I took what I learned in the Keys and applied it to this big city change, and anyone else can, too.

Photo courtesy of Michala Jackson

My priority was establishing solid friend groups. The most painful element of homesickness is loneliness, so I knew better than to be trapped by my dorm room. After my first day of classes, I attended Cru and instantly met some of my current best friends. No matter where you are in the school year, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get involved. In high school, your counselor tells you to get involved for the sake of college applications. Well, you are here now, so focus on you. Seek groups, clubs, or organizations that share common beliefs or passions with you, you will not regret it, and will probably make some of the best friends you will ever meet.

Photo courtesy of Michala Jackson

As I mentioned before, look for elements of home in your new city. The great thing about college towns is they anticipate a dominance of youth culture. With this in mind, there is a plethora of cute coffee shops, restaurants, art exhibits, and shopping centers. If you are a coffee lover at USF, you have probably heard of all the hype for Felicitous, with good reason.

Felicitous has two locations, one on 51st (the little house), and another on 42nd (part of Lark apartments). Here you will find the modern, cozy, hipster setting that is perfect for your Instagram feed. Felicitous has so much of Nashville for me; their Rose Latte reminds me of the very pink Cafe Roze, and their Honey Bear Latte makes me reminiscent of cold days spent at Fido, a Taylor Swift favorite. No matter where you are from, or where you are going, there will always be a part of home waiting for you.

Photo courtesy of Yelp Photo courtesy of Cafe Roze Photo courtesy of Nashville Coffee Shopping 


When in a new town, don’t get too caught up in missing or seeking home. This is only to aid you in finding a love for your new city. I encourage you to go explore, experience, and enjoy in your college town!