Choosing what college to attend can be an incredibly difficult decision. Tuition, majors and extracurriculars, dorm life, campus culture, and of course, the distance from home are all important factors in making your decision. I was so fixated on the idea of going to my dream school, that I never fully thought about the latter until I found myself at school in a different state, all alone during welcome week. As someone who could barely make it through summer camp without feeling homesick, I don’t know what I was thinking. Ultimately, though, I’m glad I didn’t think too hard about it, because going to college in a different state really helped me grow up.
When you think of going to school in a different state, getting homesick might come to mind. My parents’ first thought was the out-of-state tuition. Both are major aspects to consider before making your decision, but if you can make everything work, I say, why not opt for your dream school?
My home means the world to me. I call my mom all the time, because I miss talking to her and seeing her every single day. I’m constantly filled with nostalgia, and it’s difficult for me to adjust to new surroundings. But as I entered my freshman year of college, I told myself I could do this.
I realized I had to find anything that reminded me of my home in Florida, in my new city (New York City), like restaurants and coffee shops. I also brought all of my favorite movies and TV shows to watch in my dorm room. I can’t tell you how many times I watched Clueless on repeat. It’s a feel-good movie that made my dorm feel cozier, and helped me feel a little closer to home.
I told myself I needed to socialize and get out there. Once I established a great group of friends, the feelings of homesickness began to wash away. It’s easy for anyone to advise you to "make new friends." The hard part is actually doing that. I had my fair share of awkward ice cream socials where I felt like I was forcing myself to relate to people, and you can’t force a friendship, am I right?
There are plenty of people at school with similar interests, hobbies, and situations that’ll make getting to know them a whole lot easier. My freshman year floor-mates became some of my best friends, because we helped each other navigate our new campus. We had an open door policy that made it easy for everyone to hang out whenever we were in the dorms just chilling.
I also felt comfortable when I got to know more people in my major, and found other film students who shared the same love for Disney as me. Based on my experience, I learned that finding your main crew does take time and patience, but it’s well-worth it.
The last thing that really helped me adjust to this new environment was receiving care packages from my mom (because in my opinion, you’re never too old for that). Everyone I knew back home in Florida loves Publix, but no one I met at NYU knew what I was talking about when I said I missed their subs and sweet tea. Sometimes, I think you just need those hometown favorites, which is why it’s nice to get curated care packages. Even a postcard from your hometown is something nice your friends and family can send you.
Despite adjusting to my new college life and city, I don’t regret going to school out of state one bit. It was actually one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life thus far, and helped me grow up. I’m now able to move wherever my dreams or career takes me without hesitation. (I currently live on the West Coast.) Sure, I still miss my mom’s home cooking, sweet tea, and Florida weather, but I know I can get them whenever I go back home to visit.
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