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Ask a Collegiette: Adjusting to an Out-of-State College

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Whether it’s crushes, classes or coed bathrooms on your mind, chances are you’ve already started stressing about your freshman year of college. But don’t worry! This collegiette has been there and done that, and she’s passing along her hard-earned wisdom to you lucky pre-collegiettes. Whether you’re daunted by your packing list (you do not need a label maker, promise), college-level classes (Wikipedia is your new best friend), making friends (easier than it sounds) or running into a one-night stand (honestly, just run the other way), Sophie’s likely encountered it all. Just sit back, relax and let her share the best advice she’s picked up along the way.

If you attended an out-of-state college, how did you adjust to being in a new place? – Cara

Cara,

Adjusting to college life is difficult for most freshmen at one point or another, and it can be especially hard if you’re attending an out-of-state college in an area you’re not familiar with. I’m from Rhode Island and I go to school in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont, so I definitely experienced a bit of a rocky transition at first (ocean withdrawals are a thing). But, luckily for you, I picked up some tricks along the way to get over the initial hump of adjusting to college life.

My first tip is probably one you’ve heard from everyone from your older sibs to your guidance counselor, but knowing what to expect really can mean all the difference in the world. Lots of freshmen (and upperclassmen, too!) experience some degree of homesickness during their college years, and it’s completely normal. Expecting to miss your home, family and friends a little bit can make the feeling more manageable and less foreign if it does pop up. 

Another way to minimize that feeling of being in a foreign environment is to familiarize yourself with your college as much as you can before move-in day. I highly recommend visiting campus before the start of the semester if at all possible. Being able to recognize buildings and know your way around campus is one of the fastest ways to feel at home. If your school is super far away or you aren’t able to get to campus before orientation, lots of schools have virtual tours on their websites, and you can check out campus maps to get a feel for the layout. 

Getting a feel for college life doesn’t just mean memorizing the fastest route from your dorm to the dining hall (although I certainly recommend doing this – you’ll thank me later); it also means getting to know your future roomie(s) and other freshmen. Having a few conversations with your roommate about who’s bringing the fridge, what activities you’re involved in or even what kind of music you listen to (Queen Bey, all day erryday) can help you feel a little more at ease about move-in day. Checking out freshmen Facebook groups can also be a great way to ensure that you’ll recognize at least a few faces around campus.

Once you’re actually on campus, there are a few things you can do to help feel more adjusted and at home in your new environment. First, make sure your dorm room is as comforting and homey as possible. Pinning up pictures of your friends and family, proudly displaying your childhood stuffed animal (I’m 20 and I wouldn’t even think about not bringing my rainbow Beanie Baby bear, Mellow, to school) and making sure you have a comfy and cozy place to unwind after a long day can help you create a familiar oasis in a new place.

If you were involved in any activities in high school, consider joining the same clubs or sports teams in college. Having a familiar hobby can be a great way to feel more at home and get involved at your new school. Plus, clubs and organizations can be great places to make friends who share your interests!

Going to an out-of-state school can be an amazing growing experience and put you in touch with a sense of independence you never knew you had. That being said, there’s bound to be an initial adjustment period while you get used to a new place. Being prepared for a few bumps here and there; keeping in mind that this transition period is only temporary will put you on your way to loving life as a fabulous and well-adjusted collegiette before you know it.

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