Tips on dealing with homesickness

homesickness

by Maddi

1. Get out of your room:

It’s so easy to spend hours watching netflix or reading in bed, eating the boxes of thin mints that the strategically-placed girl scout stands guilted you into buying and drinking your day’s worth of nutrients in Emergen-C’s.

It’s so tempting to change into pajamas after class at 2pm and procrastinate your schoolwork by hibernating until dinner. But this temptation, especially towards the beginning of the year, is one of the biggest catalysts of homesickness. Homesickness is normal and often prevalent no matter how far away from home you go. That being said, going out of state or across the country really limits the opportunity to go home, so it’s best to find methods to deal with feeling homesick.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to occupy yourself with something outside of your room. Whether it’s going on a run, going to get ice cream, or finding a pretty view to draw a picture of, forcing yourself to leave your room helps you adapt and get used to your surroundings.

2. Join a sport team or club similar to what you did at home

Although I’ve met the majority of my friends through clubs or teams that are different from what I participated in in High school, I’ve found that playing soccer here has been a great way to still feel connected to home. Whether it’s an Intramural, club, or varsity sport, doesn’t really matter as long as it isn’t adding extra stress.

Playing a sport or joining a club similar to what you did before college is comforting yet allows you to individualize that experience even more for yourself – which i have found to be really rewarding.

3. Join a group that is outside of your comfort zone:

While joining a familiar activity can be comforting, becoming a part of a group outside of your comfort zone differentiates life at college from life at home – which really helps the adaptation process.

For me, my unfamiliar experience was joining the Cal quidditch team. While yes it is nerdy and weird, it is the activity that compiles many of my different interests into one and has thoroughly changed my experience here at Cal. Little did I know that quidditch is a highly physical and competitive sport that takes part in the United States Quidditch association and has the close team atmosphere that I had always loved about soccer. Combining this competitive team atmosphere and my love for Harry Potter, quidditch turned out to be the perfect place for me to meet the people who I had most in common with – now my best friends.

Staying ACTIVE!

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by Lulu

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard about gaining the “Freshman 15”, so what can you do to prevent that from happening?

Well it’s definitely a lot easier said than done. As someone who participated in sports throughout high school, it was easy to stay active because practices were mandatory exercise in my schedule. If not for the obligatory conditioning and training, I’d consider myself quite unmotivated to get ready and go to the gym.

Like many college students, continuing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college is a priority for me. Because college is such a crazy, busy time for balancing numerous aspects of your life, that is just another reason to stay active: to relieve stress. Balancing a social life and academic course load can be really challenging, so you may ask yourself ‘how can I find time to stay active during college?’

There are several ways to integrate exercise into other parts of your life to make new friends and have fun while being healthy! Depending on the college you attend, the options may vary due to the resources and facilities available at your school, but a workout option for anyone is to go running or biking on a trail around campus.

I personally love going on a run on the East River Parkway down by the Mississippi River or by the Stone Arch Bridge. On warmer days, I like to bike to the Walker Art Center for a longer workout. Sometimes running alone can be dreadful, so to make working out a social activity and something to look forward to, I figured out weekly running sessions with friends .

For those students whose college is located in an area that is affected by the arctic tundra of winter, like the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, running year-round may not be an option. But chances are the college has invested in an indoor recreational facility or gym for student-use!

The words “I’m going to the gym” may prompt a negative connotation in your mind, but working out is a must to stay active and has many benefits. There are stationary machines like cycling or elliptical machines that hold books, so it’s possible to combine studying and working out to make it a win-win situation. By carving out time to workout in my weekly schedule, it becomes easier to be motivated to go to the gym and makes me less stressed about other time commitments. Another positive aspect of making exercise routine, is that it relieves stress and may become an outlet or distraction from other stressors.

Another great option for those interested in a competitive workout atmosphere is intramural or club sports. At the U, there are the official Division I sports teams with the highest level of competition, club sports for competitive athletes still interested in a structured schedule with serious coaching, and then there are intramurals which are similar to competing in sports at the Park & Rec level.

I’m a part of the University Running Club and we have weekly practice with coaches and compete against other Division II and III schools in the National Intramural Running Club Association on the weekends. On the other hand, intramurals are extremely fun and there are varying levels of competitiveness as well. I’m on the coed flag football team and we have very minimal time commitments throughout the week. We have tons of fun but still enjoy the thrill of winning on game days!

There are numerous ways to be as competitive or active as you wish in college. For individuals who really enjoyed being part of a team in high school or even for those with minimal experience, I encourage you to take a chance and try out for a club or intramural team sport. It may be frightening and scary at first, but others have gone through the process before and it is definitely worth it. Your future teammates and friends will love you as an additional benefit.

I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

 

Home for the Holidays

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By Guanani

Coming home for winter break after being away for college can be unexpectedly disorienting.

This was especially the case for me, having chosen a school more than a thousand miles away from Minneapolis in Portland, Oregon. Even though I’m close to and on good terms with my family, suddenly being surrounded by them after months of figuring out how to live on my own was more of a challenge than I expected. I immediately missed the personal freedoms college offers; being able to go anywhere without having to tell anyone, the privacy of making my own decisions, and the spontaneous socializing opportunities I had gotten used to at Reed.

After the ridiculously busy last few weeks of the semester, I was looking forward to spending time with my family and having nothing to do for several days. But once I had finally turned in my last final exam, packed up my warm clothes and gotten off the plane into the chilly Minneapolis air, I mostly felt lost and confused.

I have two homes now: the familiar Minneapolis I grew up in and Portland, whose streets are full of memories and new friends and freedom to explore all kinds of new challenges. After weeks of going full throttle, always having some kind of assignment to work on or outing to participate in, being home almost felt stifling.

With free time to spare, I suddenly didn’t know what to do with myself.

Eventually the feeling subsided. I found projects to work on, spent the holidays with family and friends from high school, and came to feel much better about being home. But I know that initial shock of returning will only get stronger the more time I spend away. My new life at college that I worried so much about the summer after high school has become my normal life, and I can’t help but be a little sad that I don’t feel as at home here in Minneapolis as I used to.

Curious, I asked my friends who go to different colleges how they felt about coming home. Everyone had their version of similar feelings, which boiled down to wanting to stay connected to their childhood home and family but also not wanting to spend too much time there. My parents also noticed that I was talking much more about Portland this year, and that I seemed bored at home. My dad said he understood, but was clearly sad. “I’m not as important in your life anymore,” he lamented. “But make sure to keep visiting. We miss you over here.”

After some reflection, I’ve decided I probably won’t stay home during all of winter break next year. But I would at least like to visit for the holidays, when everyone else comes together. Even though I feel increasingly separate from them, there are still many unique things I love about my family and Minneapolis.

I know it’s important to spend time here, at least for short visits, and stay connected.

Creating a Home in College

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by Guanani

There’s plenty of college advice floating around about leaving home and transitioning to college, but very little about what it means to create a home for yourself once you’re there.

One of the most valuable things I’ve come to learn is the importance of creating a home; without a solid place to come back to, physically and emotionally, it’s easy to feel lost, confused, and not sure how to ground all the hard work and exploration that a college experience involves. Home isn’t just something you find, but something you actively create according to your needs and values.

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Here are a few things that make a home feel like home for me:

  1. A space where you feel comfortable and relaxed.

This can be tricky if you find yourself in a loud, cramped dorm situation, but home doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’ve been assigned to live.

Look for a place where you feel calm and can unwind from the day. If you have a friend who lives in a quieter area, spend time in their dorm. Maybe there’s a pleasant spot on campus with a cool tree, or a corner in the library you can return to on a regular basis that can serve as a home away from home.

  1. Headquarters for your life.

Home is the axis that supports the rest of your life, whether that means a pit stop for snacks or a nap, a cozy corner where you can reflect, or just a place where you keep your things. Ideally home in college is conveniently near your classes, friends, and sources of food and other necessities.

The important thing is for it to be close enough that you feel connected to the greater college community while still having your own personal space.

  1. People or a community to come home to.

This has been by far the most important part of creating a home in college for me. Feeling like I belong and having people to talk to, study, and go on adventures with became easier as time went on and new friendships were formed. Living in a distinct community without your family offers you the unique opportunity to build a family of friends to support each other when things get difficult, do homework with, or just spend time together on a regular basis.

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Making a home takes time and effort.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and finding the right circumstances and strong relationships to make it happen can be hard or even frustrating in the midst of all the various challenges college brings. Home should be a focal point in the constellation of your life, something you can rely on, feel safe in, and come back to over and over again.

As you move on from living with families and discover the possibilities offered by independent living, don’t forget to consider what creating a good home means to you.

Being an Athlete in College

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by Sam

Joining the Hamline Swim and Dive team has definitely been the best decision I could of possibly made, besides attending Hamline of course!

Coach Hawke and Coach Mike have created the most challenging, yet fun and loving environment for each athlete on the team. They challenge us not only in the water, but also in our academics. Having coaches who want you to succeed in all your goals, and are able to give you the resources to do so has been extremely helpful.

In the past, my experiences have always been with swimming being my main priority, so this change is very welcomed! Coach Hawke started coaching the Hamline Swim and Dive team starting in 2013, and has greatly improved everything about the program. He expects only the best, and pushes every swimmer to be and do their best. He wants results and he gets them.

Originally I wasn’t planning on swimming in college, I had lost my love for the sport, but Hawke reminded me why I started swimming 11 years ago, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this season, and the next three, take me.

If you are interested in playing a sport in college, I definitely recommend getting in touch with a coach as early as the beginning of your junior year!

Talk to them about their expectations for you as an athlete, their coaching styles, their standings in their conference, and how you would improve as an athlete under their direction. I met Coach Hawke by chance at a Piper Preview (Hamline Fall visit day/tour.) I wasn’t expecting anything, I just took a chance and look at where I am today! Swimming for my dream team!

He was straight forward with his expectations for me as an athlete and a student, and discussed with me why I was an important asset for his team. He eventually introduced me to the team over an MEA overnight, and I have never looked back.

Division III (D3) athletics was a great option for me personally, because it had more of an emphasis on putting your education first compared to a lot of the D1 and D2 colleges I had toured earlier. Coach Hawke has an amazing passion for the sport, and I can’t wait to see what he helps me achieve.

So in closing, do your research while touring colleges! And if you are interested in playing a sport contact coaches NOW!!

They love it when you contact them, and want to know about their programs! I have never once regretted joining this amazing team, although getting up for morning practices may suck in the moment, I know every hour I spend in the pool I will be more prepared to kick butt in the 100 fly at MIAC in February!

Also for any of you swimmers looking to swim in college, definitely contact coach Hawke! We are always looking for new talent and would love for you to join our Piper family!

October Q: What is your favorite non-class activity/event/club so far in your college career and what did you like so much about it?

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This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our October question is: What is your favorite non-class activity/event/club so far in your college career and what did you like so much about it?

Julie (U of MN – TC): The Hmong Minnesota Student Association Club because I will be an actor in one of their biggest events this year, Heritage Day! I can’t wait to act!

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): I joined the Berkeley quidditch team the second week of school and it was the best decision I’ve made so far. It’s so fun not only because it incorporates Harry Potter and it is an actual workout, but the team atmosphere and the players are the type of people I get along best with

Ellie (McGill): I’m on the Varsity Track and Field team here at McGill so that’s definitely my favorite! I have made some great friends who love to run as much as I do, and I’ve becomes a much better competitor as well. Another big plus is that it keeps me in shape.

Alia (MCTC): I’m a co-leader of the writing club at my school and we have had awesome turn outs and really interesting people come to our meetings. We have students write from a prompt we provide and then they share their writing with the group. I enjoy being a co-leader because I get to decide stuff and make colorful crazy posters. We’re having a halloween party soon, the school gives us money to do this kind of stuff and it’s going to be so awesome.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): My favorite non-class activity so far would have to be Art club. Before I came to college, I was never really interested in art, but after going to a couple of meetings with my friend, I really began to really enjoy it! Though I am terrible at painting, I look forward to going each week!

Natalie (Concordia): I founded a Feminism Club on campus and it has been such a wonderful experience.  It has been so inspiring to hear messages from people who don’t know much about feminism thanking us for creating a safe space to learn about equality.

Midwest to West Coast

UC-Berkeley

by Maddi

Flying from Minneapolis to San Francisco International Airport, the first sign I saw when I stepped off the plane had directions to a yoga room. Needless to say, I had arrived in California! Too many suitcases and boxes in hand, my mom and I made our way through three-hour traffic over to the East Bay and our hotel right near my new school, the University of California at Berkeley.

yoga room

Move-in day was relatively smooth. My mom seemed to die a little inside each time she saw the size of my room, but I got the bottom bunk, which had been my main focus. To all future college dorm residents: the bottom bunk is essential to your overall happiness, so sacrifice other battles to win this one.

Along with the great bed situation, my randomly selected roommates turned out to be awesome. Picking random is a risk, but it also allows for the chance for you to meet people you might not normally reach out to, which is something that I definitely recommend.

So far, during the one month that I have lived here, Berkeley and life in California have lived up to almost every positive stereotype and expectation that I’d had coming from Minnesota.

It wasn’t just California’s weather that drew me here, but the stereotype that the people are generally open minded and progressive. The atmosphere of the student body and the type of people living in Berkeley were really important to me, and I think that these are factors that can greatly affect your adaptation to college, especially if you’re going far from home. I was able to bond with my floor-mates and most people I met quickly due to our similar values and mindsets. My Spanish class bonded right away through our discussions on Donald Trump and immigration, for example.

Another enticing feature of Berkeley for me was the stereotype that students were not only socially aware and passionate about creating change, but that they were less mainstream and a little weirder than most student bodies. This is something that I found to be true as soon as I moved in, and is one of my favorite parts of being here.

Anything and everything goes here – whether that concerns clothing or recreational activity or whatever else. I joined the Berkeley Quidditch team and am currently enrolled in a Harry Potter class called “UC Hogwarts.” These were two of the best decisions I have ever made. The unique personality of the student body largely corresponds to the cultural diversity of the campus, and this is another factor that I have found to be really important.

Over half of my floor is international and thus racially and culturally diverse. In the one month I’ve lived here I have already learned more about east Asian and Indian culture than in my whole life up until now!

school board

Just as Berkeley exceeded my social expectations, the rigor of the academics was by no means exaggerated!

I walked into my first day of chemistry class with 400 very intelligent students to find a rotating blackboard filled with foreign concepts entitled, “A review of the fundamentals.” That being said, don’t be discouraged from applying or attending a prestigious school. I soon realized that most people were in the same boat as I was and I’ve developed good study habits that benefit my schedule.

I look forward to providing more Berkeley updates throughout the coming year!

The Transfer Student Transition

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by Cara

Sometimes, I feel like I’m a freshman again.

I pronounce the names of campus buildings wrong. I panic when random people ask me for directions to the library. I almost walked into the wrong classroom during the second week of class.

Last month, I started my sophomore year of college and my first semester at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

As you may remember, I attended the University of St. Thomas during my freshman year and decided to transfer because it wasn’t the right fit for me. I hoped to have more academic and social opportunities at the U of M, and so far I am pleased with my experience!

I didn’t have transfer orientation until the end of June. Compared to my freshman year orientation, this year’s orientation was shorter and more focused on class selection. I researched and printed out two schedule options before my orientation, so when I finally met with my academic advisor it was easy to explain what classes I wanted to take.

Since I’m done with the majority the U of M’s general education requirements, every class I’m taking this semester was selected because I wanted to take it. I’m taking the first journalism course required for admission to the major, two political science courses, microeconomics, and a 1-credit, online public health course.

I was able to set up my schedule so that I’m done with class everyday by the early afternoon, and I don’t have any classes on Fridays! Back when I was researching colleges, I always checked if the school offered the majors I was interested in, but I didn’t look in depth at their class offerings.

If you are a student looking at colleges, think about more than just your major!

Does the school offer alternative class arrangements such as online classes or classes held only once a week? I love being able to take two of my classes online. It allows me to work at my own pace and re-watch the course lectures, if I don’t understand the content the first time. Are all students required to take the same general education courses such as Biology 101, or do you get to choose which science course you take? I enjoy having many course options to fulfill the U of M’s requirements.

Freshmen at the U of M have a whole week of activities to welcome them to campus, but transfer students have a smaller offering of events. I went to a few of the events such as one at the student union where there were different free foods to eat and activities to do on each floor.

The main way I’ve made new friends is by meeting friends of my friends! I attended business camp at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management the summer before my senior year of high school, so I already knew students on campus. Since they have already been at the U of M for year, they are able to show me around campus and tell me about the different student groups. I love to go to events held by the many cultural student clubs on campus. We learn something new about another culture and get free food! My favorite event I’ve attend so far is Wam-O-Ram! It was held in the U of M’s Weisman Art Museum. There were free screen printed t-shirts, free pizza, a mini concert, and of course viewing of the numerous art pieces.

As a transfer student it can take a little extra work to make new friends and get involved on campus, but I am pleased with my decision to transfer. I can’t wait to see what other experiences I’ll have during my first semester at the U of M, and I am excited to share them with all of you!

Hello Freshman Year!

freshman year

by Sam

Saying hello to freshman year was cool, until I had to say hello to the 5am morning swim practices that came with it.

The past three weeks have been action packed, and quite stressful. From learning how to balance academics and swimming, to making new friends! I’ve never considered myself shy, but orientation left me culture shocked and at a loss for words.

Hamline University is a diverse, open-minded, progressive campus. I’ve found a home, and a calling to grow.

During my first week at Hamline I was a part of a Multicultural Mosaic program, an honors program that focuses around educating people about cultural diversity and sexual orientation, as well as creating a safe community for others to speak about their struggles as a person of color or being a part of the LGBTQ community. Being a part of the Multicultural Mosaic program gave me a deep insight into the struggles of my peers and gave me an environment to develop personally!

I definitely recommend looking into the pre-orientation programs offered at the schools you’re applying for; each school offers a variety of programs for a variety of interests. Being a part of the pre-orientation program here at Hamline has given me the resources to navigate campus and make friends from all over the world.

Although I am still in shock over being a college freshman, I am excited for what this year brings, and can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

Opportunities = Endless

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by Ariana

First and foremost, the most important thing I have learned from college, is that going to school provides endless opportunities.

No doubt, this is the best aspect of college. There is so much you can do, it is honestly mind-blowing. Before I started college I made a promise to myself that I would be a part of anything that spiked my interest and to get out of my comfort zone.

And so I did.

I joined 6 clubs and 2 organizations. I soon found out that it was a bit too much for me to handle, I had spent all my time going to meetings, talking to different people, learning about new things, discovering so much about U of M – Duluth. But it was great. College was in the palm of my hands and I couldn’t wait to get a taste of it.

Every school year, during the 3rd week of school, UMD has an activities fair, all of the clubs and organizations present themselves so that you can join their force. Here at UMD we have over 300 clubs and organizations.

I’ll sum it up like this: I went to that fair twice to make sure I went through them all. I was definitely eager to become a part of this college community. I became an Intern for the General election this past November, I was a part of Student Ambassadors where I gave tours and spoke to all the high school students that would come to visit our campus and I was a Student Advisor helping incoming transfer students register for classes.

As far as clubs, I am a part of Psychology Club; UMD Serve (community service club); Students Today, Leaders Forever, “STLF,” (Community service trips across the country); and I was a part of International club and Latino/Chicana Student Association, “LCSA,” (Hispanic club). I almost did it all, while also maintaining a job on campus at the Box Office.

All of these organization have taught me a lot.

When I was working on the election, I got to meet a lot of really awesome candidates, including the governor of Minnesota. Student Ambassadors is something I am also passionate about, because I want students to learn about UMD through our experiences or to even just ask questions about life here at UMD, because I was once in their shoes, and I knew what it was like.

Other opportunities are Internships and volunteering – this semester I am becoming a Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, “PAVSA,” advocate. PAVSA is a state wide organization that is a program aid for victims of sexual assault. I will be starting training in February and then I will be working with the organization through UMD’s office. The reason why I am pursuing this opportunity is because my ultimate goal is to be a mental health counselor and doing this will give me good experience with counseling and helping people in need. I am very excited to take this step and it is a great example of how you can do anything on a college campus.

Also recently, the career and internship services came into my class to talk about how they can help you find a job or an internship and that they have connections all over the state. I strongly encourage all of the college-bound students that are reading this to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity presented, trust me you will not regret it and you’ll have more fun than you’ve ever imagined.

Until next time

-Ariana

College vs. High School Schedules

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by Guanani

Ah, sweet freedom!

The amount of unstructured time you get in college is by far the biggest adjustment from high school. Instead of having six or seven back-to-back classes with sports or other activities after school, college is a big mishmash of vastly different time slots, four-hour labs, student group meetings, and awkward breaks between classes.

In some ways, this is liberating. No one expects you home by a certain hour, and some days you might only have a class or two. However, it’s much harder to discipline yourself and know where and when to do things.

Here’s where the dreaded Time Management comes in. There are more strategies for how to plan your time than will ever fit in a blog post, but the most important strategy of all is to have some kind of strategy. Here are some of mine:

  1. Whenever possible, try to schedule classes back to back (with enough time to walk between them) in order to maximize long stretches of time instead of chopping up your day.
  2. If you do have some time between classes, use it to get homework out of the way. Always carry something you can work on in short periods, like readings or worksheets.
  3. My RA, Brandon, gave me this advice: Treat schoolwork like a 9-5 job. During the day, work on homework and academics until 5 in the evening. Then do fun things to wind down, instead of waiting until late at night to start working.
  4. Set aside specific times for different things, for example: chemistry problems from 4:00 to 5:30, then start working on the next sociology paper from 5:45-7:00.
  5. Create your own study groups. It’s always helpful to talk through material with others, and chances are you’ll remember things better if you’ve explained and repeated them to each other.
  6. Work on things that are important before things that aren’t urgent.
  7. Review as much as you can, even daily. College classes move quickly!

Of course, college isn’t just schoolwork.

There are loads of fun things to do, including opportunities to hear guest speakers, going to parties, spending time with friends, and exploring. I have a personal goal of getting off campus once a day, even if it’s just for a short run. This helps me remember that the world does not revolve around Reed, and that there’s much more out there than the next biology test and cafeteria food. Include fun things in your schedule: plan events for yourself or with friends, look up cool things to do or see in your college town, or volunteer in something you find rewarding.

In college, you are free to do whatever, whenever, which makes the biggest challenge figuring out what to do when. If you find yourself overwhelmed and confused, bogged down by piles of work at one in the morning, you’re not alone. Once you do get a handle on how to best do your work, remember that the appeal of spending any extra free time scrolling through blogs or just hanging around wears off quickly. Do a couple things you could never do back in high school. Go exploring. Join teams and groups to find new friends. The only way to get time is to make it.

Your time is yours; make what you spend it on something worth telling people about.

How to Move In and Survive College Orientation

Guananiby Guanani

Move-in day at Reed College was much more difficult than I anticipated. I had just returned from a lovely pre-orientation backpacking trip and was suddenly thrust into the hustle and bustle of orientation: getting my room set up and unpacked, buying a bicycle (we got hopelessly lost in the process), and starting a long week of required lectures, socializing with hundreds of strangers, and teaching people how to pronounce my name.

It was a disorienting experience.

The first evening was packed with a residence floor meeting to attend, a roommate to meet, freshmen class talks about honorable conduct and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy, and a fire spinning show (which was the coolest part of the day by far).

There was no time to process everything happening around me. I was so bewildered that I wished I could just head back into the mountains and not have to start this whole college thing.

Any major transition is difficult, but college orientation made me feel as clueless and lonely as ever. So here are some tips to help you get through it as smoothly as possible:

Get Comfortable With Introductions

During college meet-and-greet activities, you will find yourself repeating your name and where you’re from constantly. It’s okay if you don’t remember everyone’s name, but be sure to always ask for people’s names again if you forget them. It’s not embarrassing, it’s courteous. And if you do remember someone’s name hours or days after meeting them, use it, and savor the relieved smile on their face.

Become a Pamphlet Connoisseur

There will be pamphlets! All sorts of papers will be handed out at activity fairs, info sessions, and any event offering student resources. Before long you’ll find your room flooded with dead trees.

Instead of tossing the entire pile into the recycling bin during a fit of overwhelm, try to get rid of the papers you don’t need/want as you get them, and keep important ones tucked away in a folder for later.

Don’t worry about parties

During orientation I heard about several crazy parties and how freshmen were already passing out on the first night. Drunk people ambled by and hollered outside my dorm while I tried to sleep.

If you think you need to go out and have a wild time as soon as you set foot on campus, remember that you don’t HAVE to do anything. Take your time finding people you can trust and whose company you enjoy. Start out with low-key activities like playing cards in a dorm lounge or taking a walk around campus. Have fun, don’t go overboard, and remember that there are better ways to make friends than getting drunk.

Don’t Hide!

During orientation I found myself tempted to stay in my room organizing things, doing random stuff on the Internet, emailing friends back home, or just reading a book. But hiding in your dorm is not a good way to make friends (unless your roommate is also hiding).

Go to the activities and events, no matter how cheesy they may seem. Sit down with people at meals. The hardest thing about Orientation is reaching out and trying to connect with a bunch of strangers, some of whom will hopefully be friends that you’re emailing during winter break…

Remember to get off campus

One piece of advice I keep hearing over and over from older students is to get off campus once and a while. On Labor Day, my roommate and I took the train to Washington Park and went on a three-hour hike. It was an enormous relief to escape campus after the intense structure of Orientation, do something outside and engage with our wider surroundings. It’s easy to get trapped on campus by homework and other obligations, so it’s all the more important to get away and refresh your mind while you can.

All change is hard, and the transition into college life is no exception. I felt extremely unprepared and isolated, and had conversations with other incoming students who felt the same way.

After the whirlwind of that first week, classes started, and things fell into a rhythm. Three weeks later, I still miss home, assignments are difficult, and I worry about making friends.

However, I feel a lot more comfortable and less overwhelmed than during orientation. And people are starting to pronounce my name right.