Tips on How to Survive Going to College in Another State

This is it. The moment that we have been waiting for eighteen years. Late night parties, making new friends, finally being free of the constant security of your helicopter parents who track your every move. What could possibly go wrong? Living at school is an adjustment enough, but going to school where you would need either an all-day road trip, or even a plane to get back home can be stressful, scary, and quite intimidating. Everyone adjusts at a different pace, so here are a few tips to my fellow out-of-staters.

1. Dorm Decorating

When you are far away from home, homesickness is something that can happen pretty commonly. One way to try and help you adjust to college is decorating your dorm room. It can be such a mood changer to look on your walls and see pictures of your family and your best friends from home. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the design of your dorm. Hang up your state flag, outline your room with white lights, keep a framed picture of your dog on your desk. Do whatever you need to do to personalize your dorm. The cozier your room is, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the sooner you’ll start considering your school your “home away from home.”

2. Get to Writing

When you go to school that is hundreds of miles away from your best friends, the distance can be tough. Try writing your friends letters and mailing it to them at school. Texting and phone calls are always nice, but nothing is better than getting some hand-written love in the mail from your best friends. It is a lot more personal than a text and this way, whenever you need an extra pick-me-up, you can go back and reread the letters to remind you that despite the hundreds of miles and states between you guys, nothing can come between a hometown friendship.

3. Embrace Being Foreign

One of the most basic conversation starters at college is asking where someone is from. It is so interesting and exciting to meet people from other states, especially if you are one of those “foreigners.” People will ask you questions about your state, comment on your accent, and find the similarities and differences between where you both live. Not everyone gets the opportunity to leave their state, so this is also an opportunity to meet people who are also from out of state and you can help each other out when being away from home gets to be tough. People are so interested in meeting people from other states, or even other countries! Instead of feeling segregated because of the differences, embrace them and use it to make some new friends.

4. Join a Club/Greek Life

Nothing gets you used to life on campus than joining a club or becoming a pledge in a sorority or fraternity. This is an opportunity to meet people with common interests as you. Look on bulletin boards around campus or read up on your school newspaper or morning emails. There are tons of opportunities to get involved, you just have to find them. Going to an event such as a Club Expo gives you a taste of everything your campus has to offer. I can guarantee that there will be people walking around looking for a place to fit in just like you. Playing sports for your college is also a great way to have that sense of belonging. Staying busy is so important and what’s better than staying active while doing something you love with people who so quickly become family?

5. Don’t Forget Where (or who) You Came From

Sometimes, I get stubborn and think that I am able to tackle every problem I’m faced all by myself and I refuse to ask for help. In reality, even the strongest people need to speak up and ask for help every now and again. There is nothing wrong with calling your mom and dad every now and then. They will always be your number one support system and help you through everything and anything you may be dealing with. Never be afraid to shoot a quick FaceTime call to your mom in the middle of the day. This will not only make you feel better and give you the quick confidence boost and sense of love that you needed, but it will make your parents happier than you can even imagine. Going away to college is also hard on your parents. They spent the past 18 years raising you and taking care of you and now they have to instantly go from dropping you off at school to not seeing you for months at a time. Being able to see your face and hear your voice through the phone helps them see that you’re alive, safe, and doing well. Plus, you reaching out to them keeps them off your back and helps you enjoy college without worrying about answering your mom’s text late at night when you’re out with your friends.

 

While moving far away from home is a huge adjustment, it can be done. This adjustment won't be overnight, so don't get frustrated when you have days where all you want is to snuggle up in your bed in the pajama set your grandma got you for Christmas with your dog and a gallon of ice cream. Fear not, because I promise after enough time and acceptance of your new environment, you will be home for a holiday break counting down the hours until you can get back to school with all of your friends.

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