The first time I attended university, I moved from a small farming community, where the closest town had 500 residents, to a city with a population of 2 million. So, if you're feeling scared about moving to college, university or away from home for the first time, I know what you're going through. The great news is, there are lots of ways to ease your fears before you move.
Plan Your MoveWe won't spend too much time talking about planning your move since this is covered in other articles on this site (see: Moving to College), however, it is a key way of easing some of your fear. If your move is organized and you're well-prepared, then all that is left to do is to deal with the emotional stress, which is difficult enough.
Also, you'll probably find that once you start planning your move, whether it's booking a mover, plotting the route to school, arranging move-in dates at your dorm or purchasing much-needed items, you'll begin to feel yourself shifting your thoughts towards school and the excitement will naturally grow. I highly recommend that you start planning as soon as possible.
Connect With Others Online
- Most college freshmen have their own Facebook group. Join up now before you arrive at school and connect with others who are in the very same situation as you. Some students are even able to connect with their roommates, housemates or students in the same department, class or sports team. It's a great way to "talk" with people you'll be spending a lot of time with. Find out when new students are getting together or create your own "meet and greet".
- Sign-up to receive notices from your school. Most schools provide a freshmen update to new students, letting you know about events and activities related to the start of term. Make sure you're on the list or check your school's web page regularly for updates. Sign up for as many events as possible; even if you're shy, you'll find adapting a lot easier if you jump in with both feet!
- Join online forums. There are some great online forums for first-year students specific to your school. Post questions, make connections and read other people's experience of moving away for the first time - it'll reassure you that you're not the only one.
Connect With Others on Campus
- Make sure you arrive in time for orientation. Orientation is the best way to meet new students, both in your residence and campus-wide. From pub-crawls to sports events, there's usually something for everyone. Some schools will connect you with a senior and provide familiarity tours so you can get to know where resources are located.
- Don't arrive too early. Depending on what kind of person you are, I suggest that you don't arrive at school too early. Homesickness usually hits when you have time to spare, so try to plan your move for a few days before orientation. This will give you time to settle in, tour the campus to find your classes, introduce yourself to others and to just hang out. On the other hand, some people might want a longer period of time to themselves to settle in. You decide what's best.
- Join clubs and sports teams. Before you move, check out the clubs and activities that your school offers. Clubs are a great way to get to know students from a diverse background and from different departments. Make a list of the clubs you'd like to join, note their meeting times and create a schedule for your first few weeks. Just remember not to join too many or you'll find yourself too busy. Keep room in your schedule for socializing with new friends and of course, homework!
Spend Time Saying Goodbye
- Get together with friends. As you plan your move to school, make sure you leave lots of time to spend with friends. While you might think this time together will make it more difficult to leave, you'll find that your friends become your greatest support and cheerleaders, and that support can be carried with you no matter where you go. It's probably also true that many of your friends are moving away from home so they'll be a great source of comfort as you discuss your fears and compare notes. Maybe spend a day shopping for stuff you'll need or go through course descriptions discussing what classes to take.
- Spend time in old haunts. Say goodbye to favorite spots even though you'll be back to visit now and again. Just take your time to savor the moment, but also to reflect on all the great new adventures you're going to have, the new haunts that you'll be calling your own and the new friends you're going to meet. Collect mementos along the way if you think keeping them with you will provide you with a bit of security; a kind of talisman to link you to your past.