Stomping the Yard: Your Home Away from Home

Calhoun College, Yale University / AP

August 2014. The time had finally come. I sat in the back of my parents’ SUV packed in between all of the belongings I designated for college. The idea of college was exciting, but the closer we got to my future home, the more nervous I became. I questioned my readiness and my ability to adapt to a new town, and I was overwhelmed by the fear of being far from home.

Once I arrived on the University of Missouri-Columbia’s campus, I was met with thousands of students like me, ready to take on this new adventure. My parents helped settle me into my dorm, but the thought of being alone for the first time still haunted me. This Chicago girl didn’t know what life and learning would be like in Columbia, Missouri.  They assured me that I would be just fine, but even then, I cried and felt overwhelmed by the idea of being away from home.

It wasn’t until I remembered that I was there for a purpose and my mission was to graduate and make my parents proud that I became more comfortable. This was a new chapter for me, and I knew that I could tackle it head on. I had no choice but to make Mizzou my home away from home. Below you’ll find five tips to make your transition from home life to college living easier.

1) Call home.

Just because you’re in college now doesn’t mean you don’t need your parents. Your family is just as nervous as you are and a simple phone call, FaceTime date or Skype chat can be soothing for all. It is totally fine to stay connected to your home life while you are away at school.

2) Get involved.

As soon as you step foot on campus find out about clubs or organizations that match your interests. Try out for an intramural sport, join a club connected to your major or volunteer in the community. The more involved you are, the less homesick you’ll be. Jumping right into campus life and engulfing yourself with campus culture and activities will help you throughout your college years.

3) Meet new people.

This can be a challenging task but don’t be afraid to mingle and meet new people. Talk with your roommate and other students in your dorm or apartment complex. After all, every person there is new to this thing called college. It is a great feeling when you establish friendships with people from all over the world who share the common goal of obtaining a college degree.

4) Get to know your campus.

Looking at a campus map will not suffice. Get out and explore your new surroundings. Find out where your classes are, and where the library and student center is. Familiarize yourself with the service centers on campus like the women’s center, campus ministries, the Black Cultural Center and the LGBTQ center. These places can serve as a safe haven and escape from the stresses of academic life. To go even further, discover your college town and all that it has to offer. Visit restaurants off campus and enjoy an outdoor monuments, parks or recreational areas that are nearby.

5) Find a mentor.

It’s never too early to find someone on campus that is in your corner. Your mentor is there to guide you through the rough times and praise you through the great ones. They should be supportive and provide sound advice. A mentor can be a professor, employer, residence hall director or academic adviser. The easiest way to find a mentor is to simply ask.