Making Yourself at Home: A Guide to the Out of State College Experience
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
By Kristen Jumes
CollegeFit Mentor and Tulane Student
It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time but making the trek from my small hometown in Fort Worth, Texas to the city-life of NOLA to attend Tulane certainly took some adjustments. Although there is no way that I would trade my experiences in the Crescent City for anything else, there have been several learning curves along the way. Before coming to college, New Orleans represented the endless creativity and spontaneity that I craved. But in satiating my hunger for change, I forced myself into a new state and out of my comfort zone. While amazing, this decision did bring about some loneliness and homesickness. These feelings are completely normal and should not deter you from considering an out-of-state school. Here are some of the tips I’ve learned in adjusting to my out-of-state experience!
1. Home is not an either-or. It’s easy to polarize the college transition. I’m either at home or at school. Understandably, one is our home and the other our school. But I want to propose an alternative: both are home in different ways. I obviously associated Fort Worth with home when I first came to Tulane. I had lifelong friends, knew all the backroads, and could give you a list of the best restaurants. But I did not consider Tulane home until I found unique parts of campus (clubs, study spots, and friends) that I loved. Texas became home in some ways, and Louisiana became home in others.
2. Seek community. Transitions are always easier when surrounded by others. Joining organizations with like-minded individuals has helped me through the loneliest parts of moving states. But it’s okay if that community changes. Don’t feel confined or discouraged if it takes a while for you to find a solid community. Keep trying to connect with others. Community in college is just as important as family in your hometown.
3. Remember that everyone is adjusting. You are not alone. It is easy to isolate yourself throughout a transition. But, if you are going through homesickness, someone else is, too. Find and connect with these individuals. You are in this together.
4. Find the familiarity. It is no secret that there will be a lot of change when you move to college. A new city. A new state. New friends. New classes and expectations. I encourage you to wholeheartedly embrace these changes. But, amidst them, find the familiarity. I cannot tell you how many times a quick call to family, a facetime with friends, or simply looking at old photos kept me grounded. Instead of either change or familiarity, bring familiarity into your seasons of change.
As you decide on the perfect school for you, don’t let the challenge of moving to a new city, state, or even country deter you. The excitement for your newfound place is worth the adjustment periods. Your school is your home away from home and, as you navigate this new environment, know that you are not alone. Embrace the changes and you will soon find the adventure!