Starting College Out-of-State Was Scary. Here’s How I Coped.
| 5 min read
Packing my entire life into the trunk of a car and driving to a different region of the country to reach my new ‘home’ was overwhelming and scary. Going out-of-state to college was a challenge for me, but I’m so happy I made that decision. My first year was filled with new experiences and situations that I needed to adapt to on my own. Here are some problems and solutions I’ve encountered during my first year at an out-of-state college:
Adapting to a new environment
Transitioning from high school to college is a difficult change. However, it felt even more challenging when I had to adapt to a new state as well. When my parents dropped me off at college, I felt like I was thrown into the deep end of my new environment. There were so many things I had to adapt to like culture.
Being from the Midwest at an East coast dominated school, the culture shock was interesting. The key to adapting for me was embracing and celebrating the difference of culture. I was open towards trying new things and learning more about where I lived. As a result, I enjoyed the change of environment while remaining proud of where I called home.
The shocks I experienced from college culture and my new environment were daunting at first. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I dove headfirst into new experiences and embraced the change around me.
Caitlyn Begosa is a corporate communications intern at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Caitlyn is a rising sophomore at Syracuse University, studying Magazine, News and Digital Journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Being 500 miles away had me missing home and quality time with my loved ones, especially my dog. I missed the simplicity and comfort of how my life used to be prior to college. Although homesickness is normal for every college student, going home isn’t a practical cure when you attend out-of-state college.
Here are some ways I combated homesickness:
- Embrace change. Explore your campus and different interests. College is the time to be out of your comfort zone and try something new.
- Create a sense of home at your school. You can do this by establishing a routine, joining organizations that make you passionate and making new connections on campus.
- Keep in touch with friends and family. Make time in your busy schedule to call and message your loved ones.
- Remember that you’ll be home soon. Breaks where you can go back home are right around the corner.
Packing and storage space
When I was packing for college, I had no idea what to bring. As a result, I overcompensated and brought everything. This left my small dorm room feeling more compact than it already was with overfilled drawers and containers. Unlike my friends who lived closer to college, I never had the opportunity to bring unneeded stuff home.
Here are some tips I used when packing and storing items:
- Avoid bringing clothes you don’t wear normally wear. If you don’t wear it at home, you probably won’t wear it for college.
- Buy bins that can be used as storage in your dorm room. Storing seasonal clothes or unused objects in these bins saves up space.
- When it’s time to pack up everything at the end of the year, get a storage unit near campus. There’s a big chance that you have more stuff than what you started with at college, and everything won’t fit when traveling back home.
Finding a support system in a new environment
When going to school out-of-state, it’s common to not know anyone when you first arrive. This was the case for me and a lot of other students at my university. I was surrounded by strangers when I needed friends. As I result, I had to put myself out there and meet new people.
These are some of the ways I found a new support system:
- Join new extracurriculars.
- Talk to your classmates.
- Meet people in your dorm.
- Attend campus events.
Finally, remember to keep in touch with your friends and family at home. Even though they’re hours away, those people will always be there to support you.
A new sense of independence is common among all college students. However, students staying closer to home can still rely on their family for help. Independence reaches a whole new level when my family lives in a different state. Whenever I felt sick, I could no longer rely on my parents to get me medicine or drive me to the hospital. Whenever I encountered problems, I had to find solutions on my own.
At first, all this independence can be scary, but it’s great for personal growth. This experience taught me how to live on my own and helped me develop skills I need to know for the future like personal finance and time management. My newfound independence helped me build confidence and grow organically without the influence of my family.
Being far away from home and the people you love is tough at first. However, make the most of your out-of-state college experience and embrace your new environment.
Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Caitlyn Begosa