Understand that it’s okay to feel homesick
Moving away from home is a major life change and the change in environment and lifestyle is very much like “culture shock”. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find it difficult to adjust. Take your time. Student residences often have RAs (Residential Advisors) that can support students with this transition. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Find out what supports are available on campus
Become familiar with these support services on offer. There are often walk-in clinics for physical medical issues, counselling services, accommodation services for those with developmental differences, career coaching staff etc. Access these services as needed. That is what they are there for!
Take your time to figure things out
Moving away from home is not the only major life decision that often comes with transitioning to college or university. There are also decisions to be made about what to major in, what courses to take, what student organizations to participate in and making friendships that align with your personality and goals. Take your time with these decisions and rely on support services offered on campus to help you make these decisions. It will take time to adjust. Allow yourself that time.
Find things to do outside of the classroom
Look into activities and organizations that you can participate in outside of the classroom. This will help with the transition, especially from a social perspective, but may also look great as eventual additions to a resume.
Take care of your health
Be sure to get enough sleep, stay active and focus on eating nutritiously as well. These are two key factors that will make the transition easier, especially in regards to your mental health. Our brain and our body are so interconnected that neglecting care for one can have a significant impact on the other as well!
Focus on time management for planning and organization
Make good use of your time through planning and other techniques to stay organized. Some examples of these techniques may include:
- The Pomodoro Technique: google this for further information.
- Planning to do the most important tasks during a time of day when you know you are generally at your peak performance
- Make To Do lists to stay organized, but also make them manageable so that you don’t become overwhelmed.
- Change up your study environment and choose places that you know are conducive to helping you study. For some, this may be the library, for others this may be the grassy knoll in the middle of campus. Practice and learn to have an awareness of what does and does not work well for you.
Connect with family and friends
Be sure to stay in touch with family and friends through email, phone calls, texts, social media and planned visits. Remaining connected to these positive relationships that you have already established will make the transition easier. On the same note, try to establish new connections and friendships, as this will support a healthy level of contact with those at home. Relying on these “hometown” relationships too much can actually make the experience even more difficult.
Find comfort in your new surroundings
Making meals that remind you of home, decorating your new space with items that bring you joy, comfort and are connected to good memories can be helpful in making the transition to your new surroundings easier. Does it make you smile? Then have it in your space!
Registered Psychotherapist, Alicia Lawson