Facing Homesickness in College

Homesickness is something that effects everyone in very different ways. It also shows up at different times in our lives. It is however very common to feel homesick during college, especially freshman year. I decided to write this post on how I coped with homesickness during college and some good was to face that feeling.

The end of the fall semester and the beginning of spring semester of freshman year can be the toughest time for many students. This is when the novelty of the college experience wears off and a sort of reality sets in. You are on your own and are responsible for keeping your commitments and making decisions. College is definitely a cushion from the ‘real world’. However, realizations of your independence can cause a great deal of homesickness, especially since for many people you are also physically far away from the people who cared for your for your whole life.  It can be a really tough time despite the fun you may be having in college. It is especially hard if you have not found your niche of people quite yet. There are several things that helped me a lot when I was homesick during college.

Friends and mentors are really helpful in dealing with personal feelings. This can be tough in the first year of college because you may not have made friends yet that you trust enough to talk to about how you feel. I recommend trying to find a mentor, someone who is older and already has gone through similar experiences. This may be a sibling, a professor, a coach or community member. There is no exact formula for finding your right mentor. This can be really hard for people if you aren’t comfortable reaching out to people. It is important to know that there are many people out there who are eager and excited to share their experiences. Try volunteering or speaking to an advisor/professor. Not everyone will be open with you but you won’t know until you try. If you don’t want to find someone new, reach out to an older sibling, cousin or aunt/uncle.

My biggest way of combating that homesick feeling was staying busy and focusing on the present. There is so much to do in college beyond just classes and homework. I highly recommend finding some sort of hobby/club/class etc… that you really love. Something that really lets you be present and not be thinking about home. It may be soccer, painting, photography, dance or maybe you love to learn about a certain subject.

An important part of dealing with homesickness is also facing it, not just burying it. Your hobbies/passions are really important especially for the moments you are feeling unmotivated and sad however you will create a much healthy environment for yourself if you stop ignore the feelings of homesickness. I did this my creating a balance in my life between my present life in college and my life at home. I called my parents and friends from home around once a week. This gave me space to adjust but also helped me keep up my relationships back home. Creating a physical space that encompasses positive parts of your life back home can also be really helpful. Decorate with pictures and other items from home. Another great strategy for facing homesickness is to work a meditation or reflective journaling exercise into your daily routine. This allows you to get the thoughts you are having out and really reflect on what you are feeling and why you are feeling this way. College can be a busy time but just allow 10 minutes every morning or after dinner to give your thoughts some reflection. The important part of facing homesickness is creating a balance.

If the environment is right for you, that homesick feeling will grow into a positive relationship with your family and hometown. I say grow because being homesick is really part of becoming independent. You aren’t leaving everything in the dust, you are growing into your own independent human being, with your own life. If homesickness is affecting your performance in school and your relationships I recommend first trying some of these techniques for dealing with homesickness, but if you still feel that way, asses your environment. It may not be the right school for you, for many reasons. This doesn’t mean transfer right away. It just means assess what is going on around you and see if it meets your values and how you want to be living.

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I just wanted to make a few notes on the outfit and location from these photographs. This is the historical location for Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. The studio was very well known and recorded many famous musicians (including Louis Armstrong). The tribute now is very beautiful! These are my new favorite pants. When I ordered them I loved the color but was definitely nervous about being able to pull off the style. I am still getting used to the fit just because I have never owned anything like it before but they are so incredibly comfortable and I really like how they fall. So cute and great for looking dressy but being very comfortable.

Thank you for reading, I hope this was helpful. The process for writing this piece was actually incredibly reflective for me. It helped me think about my college experience more and how I have changed throughout the past four years.

Erin

5 Classes to Take in College Regardless of Your Major

So while I was in college I took some amazing classes that were not in my major. I decided to compile a list of classes to take regardless of your major. These are the classes that really changed my perspectives and got me thinking about so many things I have never thought about before.

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  1. Psychology: Some of the most interesting class I took were in the psychology department. It wasn’t my major but I had heard great things about the professors in the department so I decided to take Intro to Psychology in the spring of my junior year. I loved it so much that I ended up taking two more throughout my last few semesters. I honestly think I might have been a psychology major (or at least doubled) if I had taken the class freshman year. I just learned so much about how humans think and act. Seriously, it is such a helpful class in just understanding how people interact and how to effectively interact with people.
  2. Environmental: In today’s world learning about the environment has become critical yet it is much easier to ignore it now. I found the several environmental studies classes I took to be incredibly fascinating. I also took lots of biology classes (my major) including ecology classes like ornithology which gave me such a different perspective on the things we see in nature every day.
  3. A music or art history class: I actually took both an art history and a music history (The History of Rock) class and found both to be eye-opening. Those classes were unlike anything I had even taken before. They were really fun and I learned a lot about our cultural history. Many things surprised me and I am very glad I got some perspective on different cultures and societies through an art form. The origins of rock music, for example, come from old jazz and blues which can be traced to old slave music.
  4. Education: I took a class called Pedagogies of Place during my senior year and it was amazing. It was an education class with an emphasis on experiential learning which was exactly what I needed. It combined many environmental aspects with educational techniques and concepts. Taking a class on education can really put things into perspective. Most people spend the first 15-20 years of their lives in the education system and learning why and how the systems we have were formed is very interesting.
  5. A writing class: This is one thing that I feel like I really lacked in college. I took two writing intensive classes but I wish I would have taken some sort of creative writing course to really help develop my voice on the page. I realized how much I loved writing far too late in my college career. Even if you do not like to write, it is such a useful skill to have. Being able to adequately express yourself in writing is useful in almost any profession, it is a great way to have an impact in your field.

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Erin

 

 

Making Friends in College

Making friends in college can be tough but it can also be easy if you put yourself out there and stay true to who you are as a person. The great thing about being in college is that most people live on campus so you are already in the same place as lots of other people your age. Classes and extracurriculars also gives you an automatic excuse to have to talk to lots of different people.  For some people it is definitely easier said than done. Here are the three things that helped me in terms of making friends while I was in college. I try to explain what each really means because it is a way different environment than high school and many people take lots of adjusting.

Be yourself: During college many people meet friends that will, in some way or another, be with them for the rest of their lives. The sooner you start being true to who you are instead of being who everyone else wants you to be, the sooner you find the people who will be with you through everything and the people who really make you happy.

Get involved: I understand that not everyone likes participating in campus activities but being active on your campus really helps in finding those people. Being active on campus means that you are involved in several different activities. Selectively choose the things that sound most interesting to you because you do not want to overdo it but definitely be involved in several. Maybe some clubs, sports and/or committees, also having an on-campus job can be a great way to both meet people and make some money.

Let yourself be spontaneous: This one is not quite as self-explanatory. During college I was the type of person who made myself super busy all the time. I was either in class, at a meeting or doing a sport. I had to plan out when I was going to hang out with friends. I realized that giving yourself some time during the day to just let what happens happen can actually make for the most exciting adventures and the best conversations. You never know what will happen or who will come your way. Just kind of spend some time going with the flow and you are bound to meet new people and have some fun you really weren’t expecting.

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I think these rules apply to lots of different situations, not necessarily just college. It can be really intimidating though to be at a new school with lots of different people. Most of all, I would try stepping out of your comfort zone a little and just having conversations with people. You never know who you are meeting.

Erin

College Wardrobe Essentials

Most college students are just getting back into the swing of classes at this point. I thought I would round up those wardrobe essentials that I wore most (or found to be most useful) during my four years of college.

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Three (or more) solid & comfortable button downs (some nice clothes in general): A simple button down can seriously class up any outfit. Regardless of what you choose to where everyday is essential to have some dressier clothes that work for presentations, job fairs and any other business events that you may find yourself in. You may not think this is something you need for what you want to do however there are so many opportunities in college and being prepared is essential. How you dress can have major impacts in potential job/internship offers. It might sound unfair but employers definitely take a first impression into account and how you dress can show how much effort and thought you put into that meeting or event. To them it can translate to work ethic and commitment. Show how much you care!

Leggings: College is all about balancing comfort and classy. The days for me were very long because I usually had classes in the morning, labs in the afternoon and then meetings and clubs in the evening. It was so busy and I would be walking so much during the day. Being comfort was super essential but I also wanted to look like I didn’t just roll out of bed. My staple item quickly became leggings because they are so comfortable but also can be dressed up or down depending on the day.

Several comfy dresses: Having several casual dresses is definitely essential in college because it is such an easy go-to outfit. Honestly I wear a dress when I don’t have much time to get ready in the morning because it requires little coordination and effort. This J. Crew Factory dress is my favorite right now because it is so perfect for the transition from summer to fall and it is incredibly comfortable.

Boat shoes/vans/converse: A shoe that works with most outfits and is easy to get on and off is definitely a must. Because you will also probably end up walking a lot comfort is also super important. I wore either my Sperry’s or white converse most of the time. In the winter Bean boots and riding boots worked best for me.

Jackets/Sweaters: I brought a Carhartt jacket, down jacket or a sweater with me wherever I went depending on the season. Our buildings were air conditioned so I always needed at least a sweater to be comfortable. Sweatshirts are great as well but I found that a sweater can easily class up an outfit without much effort.

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Dress J. Crew Factory, Sunglasses J. Crew Factory, Boat Shoes L.L. Bean

This was just a compilation of those basic items that for me made my closet in college easy, comfortable and classy. There are definitely other items like accessories (which I do love) but in college you will probably find that you do not often need or have time for accessories. I wore simple jewelry and my backpack almost every day.

Erin

5 Dorm Essentials

Welcome back to the second post in my series on college life and preparation! This is a series I am doing for the next couple months on getting ready for college and making that transition. For this post I round up the items that I found to be essential to living in a dorm. I tried to choose the things that I felt were essential to my experience but that aren’t necessarily everyday objects (like sheets and pillows which are very essential).

Command hooks: This one may seem kind of strange but it is something that I didn’t think about at all. I was prepared to hang any decor with things like pushpins or tape but when I began setting up my room the walls often didn’t hold up tape and because they were made of cement you could not push anything into them. Command hooks can give you so much room to design your room how you want. You can even get ones strong enough to hold up coats and school bags.

A rug: So this is one that I completely missed myself. I just didn’t think having a rug would matter that much and rooms can look sometimes better without them. I was very wrong, rugs are essential in a dorm room. It is so much nicer to walk on and it actual makes the dorm rooms look so much better. Once I added a rug, my room actually felt like my own and I finally felt comfortable hanging out and having friends over.

Fairy lights: Many college dorms have pretty harsh dorm lights. It definitely works but I found that adding some nice warm fairy lights made a huge difference in how my room looked and in how I felt while doing homework or hanging out with friends. There are also so many different ways to set them up. You can hang them on the wall/ceiling or on your bed or over you desk.

A simple first aid kit: Although these types of supplies can be found in health services on most campuses, having at least a few bandaids around can be surprisingly useful. I can think of multiple instances where I have needed band aid and not had one on hand (eg. paper cuts, mosquito bites etc…). I guarantee there will be a time that this comes in handy.

A travel mug: I used my mug all the time during college. Yes, I lost two of them over the years and had to quickly replace them because it I realized how much I use them. Having a cup of coffee in some of those early morning classes can really make the difference and it is much easier if you have your own mug. Dining halls differ in what they provide, however most do not proved take away cups (many smaller coffee shops do however). Having your own mug can be so useful and it is a much more earth-friendly way to drink your coffee!

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I am sure I missed some things however these were the items I found to be essential or that I completely missed in my preparation for life in the college dorms. I hope this list was helpful!

Erin

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

It is already August and I know so many people are getting ready to begin one of the most exciting adventures of their lives! Back to school is such an exciting time and can be even more exhilarating when you are starting a whole knew chapter in your life. I loved college and there are certain things I did that made my experience so incredible. There are also some things I wish I had known before starting college. This list is actually kind of a mix of the things I did right and the things I wish I had known. I hope you find it useful and would love to hear your opinions and thoughts!

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  1. Talk to everyone: This can be incredibly intimidating for many people but it is the easiest way to make friends, get to know your professors and meet business contacts. If you know you don’t like to talk to people there are ways to make it a little bit easier. Talking to peers in the first few weeks of school can actually be the best time because most people do not know each other so it is completely acceptable to ask where someone is from, what classes they are taking, what they might want to major in, etc. Getting used to speaking to professors can also be difficult but I highly recommend going into their office and asking questions, even if you do not necessarily have any. Just ask for clarifications on class material. Make sure they know who you are! I would say going in once a week is a good place to start. Throughout my four years of college I became friends with my professors which was incredibly beneficial for me.
  2. Take every opportunity you can get: Even other students at my own school asked me over and over how I was able to go so many places and do so many things. I took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself and went out of my comfort zone to do so. If a professor was taking a group of students on a short weekend trip I went, even if it meant missing out on some weekend relaxation and even if I knew nothing about the place we were going. I applied to many things even if I thought I wasn’t qualified for or that I wasn’t likely to get as a freshman (this seriously paid off!). On the academic side of things this one goes along with talking to your professors because I was offered lots of opportunities because I was engaged and frequently spoke to my professors.
  3. Know when to say no: Yes, I know, this is sort of contradictory but it is also so important to be able to say ‘no’. I got way two involved in so many different things in college during my first two years that by the time senior year came around I was beyond burnt out and I regret not spending more time with my friends. It can be really nice to be able to say yes to other things that pop up when your schedule has some built in free time. Some of the greatest memories I have are the unplanned adventures that popped up.
  4. Don’t stick to what is expected of you (by anyone): College is truly the time to try everything because you never know what you might fall in love with. I really wish I knew this before starting college because I definitely had it in my head that my parents had certain expectations of me and I followed one track in the first two years that I did not necessarily love. Because of this I soon felt like my professors, friends and even myself expected a certain level and a certain path. I wish I had been way more open because as I started to try other things around junior year I realized how much more is out there and how many other interests I had.
  5. Leave high school behind: Seriously, college is so much better without all the drama of high school. I think one reason that sometimes freshmen are looked down upon is because they are still partially high schoolers and there is definitely a difference. Leave the drama. Don’t get me wrong, there will be drama in college however people seem to deal with it very differently and in more adult ways. The first year can be a lot more fun if you do not play into at all. Just meet knew people, focus on school and get involved with extracurriculars. If you do not like who you were or how people perceived you in high school, college is a chance to completely start over. I believe in staying true to who you are, but people definitely change and you may not really be who many people in high school thought you were.

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Boots Tory Burch, Sweater Brooks Brothers, Pants similar, Crossbody Rebecca Minkoff, Sunglasses J. Crew Factory, Trench coat ASOS

Erin