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!

active(2)

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!

 

Major Blues

choosing_major

“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life” – Buddha

by Natalie

When I started college a year and half ago here at Concordia, I was dead set on being a Music Major.  I wanted to study music and theatre and be become a talented musical theatre star because of it.

Then I started taking Music Theory. And I hated it.

After clawing my way through the first semester, dragging myself to that class every Monday and Wednesday at 8 am, and coercing my classmates to help me with the homework, I decided that I was no longer interested in studying music.

I called my dad, crying, the night before I was supposed to register for spring semester and he granted me wisdom I have since shared with many of my friends and classmates:  your major doesn’t matter.  What you do with your life is not predestined by what it says on your Bachelor’s degree.  So take a few classes in fields that have nothing to do with your major and see if you love something more than you love what you’re already doing.

So I signed up for a political science class, changed my major, and started making plans to go to law school and run for office.

I chose Political Science (“Poli-Sci”) because I knew I could make a living as a lawyer or politician. I knew politics were something I was passionate about (if you’re interested in reading some of my thoughts on politics, feel free to hit up my personal blog).

I figured it was a path that made sense for me.  I loved to read.  I loved to argue.  I was passionate about social and legal change and I was intent on making that change happen.  I decided that I would go forward and become a lawyer for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and go on to run for office someday.

I would marry my significant other, a man who wants to go into theatre, and provide for my future family.

I convinced myself to go all in.  I spent afternoons looking up law schools I would want to go to and could get in to.  I got ahead of myself by about twenty years and, by doing so, I freaked myself out about being a Poli-Sci major.

I went to International Politics a total of 8 times that semester; I spent the other class periods in my bed, panicking about how hard that path was.  I didn’t love it.  I was scared of it. Terrified that I wouldn’t be successful at this and that my future would crumble because of it, I let it consume my life for three months.  My fear of potential failure and a lack of confidence in my abilities pushed me into a downwards spiral that took months to remedy.

I am here today to tell you, dear readers, that you should never let it get that bad.

Remember what I didn’t in my time of major turmoil and future planning: it matters less than you think.  Take the classes that you love.  Take the classes that seem fascinating and worthwhile – not just the ones you think are “necessary.”  Don’t be afraid to drop a class or ask for help; your academic advisor is there just for that.  Don’t be afraid of changing your major; you can change it as many or as few times as you like – you’ll still be successful if you’re willing to work hard.

Every school is different in how they handle the semantics and logistics of changing majors.  But every school will help you do it.  Some schools might be less helpful than others, but your education is yours and yours alone.  If you decide to change your direction, don’t let academic advisors or administrators tell you that you can’t.

It is your money and your time that you are investing in this education and you get to decide what you want to do with it.

This year, I am an English Writing and Theatre Arts double major and I love it.  I’m taking classes that I’m passionate about and not worrying about how much money I’m going to make or whether or not my grades are good enough for me to go to Stanford.

I am focusing on being happy and healthy and being successful here and now.

February Q: What is your favorite food to eat/snack on when you are stressed out?

stress

This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our February question is: What is your favorite food to eat/snack on when you are stressed out?

Dralandra (Augsburg): My favorite food is pasta – shrimp alfredo, but when I am stressed, I love to eat cheetos or doughnuts!

Lulu (U of MN – TC): I absolutely love to snack! I’d have to go with either dill pickles or ice cream.

Ariana (U of MN – Duluth): Sour patch kids and pringles.

Natalie (Concordia): When I’m stressed out about my personal life and health, I eat entire boxes of Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey granola. When I’m stressed out about school, I tend to eat a lot of cheese based snacks: Cheeze-Its, Goldfish crackers, cheddar popcorn, etc.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): When I’m stressed out, I love a good Smucker’s pre-made PB&J sandwich!

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): If I’m feeling healthy, carrots and apples with peanut butter. If I’m feeling normal, a grilled mac and cheese sandwich, or tacos.

Alia (MCTC): I don’t eat when I’m stressed, otherwise, I eat chicken of all kinds.

Ellie (McGill): When I am stressed out I make tea and dunk WAY too many tea cookies in it!

 

How to Win Over Freshmen and Influence People

Being a role model when you’re really not sure what you’re doing in your own life.

role model

by Natalie

Not to toot my own horn, but I am killing it in sophomore year.

In the past two months and seven days, I have started taking classes that I really, truly enjoy.  I have met some wonderful people.  I have written a handful of opinion columns that I’m very proud of (you can find the latest post here).  I started a club.  I finished a play and submitted it to a theatre competition.

But, most importantly, I have learned something new about myself: I’m pretty darn good at giving advice and being a support system.

At the beginning of this year, I began collecting freshman.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t go around with a butterfly net chasing the kids who still wore their high school state speech sweatshirts or letterman’s jackets.  I just, slowly but surely, became very close with a large network of first year students.  And, as I gained this new circle of friends, I gained a reputation for having the answers.  Which, if you’ve read any of my blogs from my freshman year, you’d know I don’t necessarily have.

Last year, I was an absolute disaster.

I spent my days panicking and not attending my classes.  This year, I have taken up the new habit of writing down exactly when I’m going to fulfill my responsibilities.  I’ve also taken to writing out To-Do lists.  Long story short, I’ve got my “poop in a group” this year.

As the year has progressed, I have become well-versed in taking people down, if you will. College is when a lot of people start to have mental health issues.  It’s stressful and challenging and there is a demand for a constant, shiny, happy attitude on college campuses.

It can become overwhelming.

Anxiety and depression are things I developed and learned to deal with last year.  My roommates have also struggled with mental health in their time in college.  So, because we have life experiences with not knowing how to deal, room 716 has become a popular hangout for first years who need help.

It’s fulfilling work, being a role model.  It brings me a lot of pride, knowing that I can help people because I’ve been in their shoes.  I have comforted these lost first years through times of self-doubt and it has strengthened my own ability to cope with overwhelming circumstances.  I have counseled a few of them through existential crises and “what if I hate my major” meltdowns and it has made clear to me that the struggles I faced last year were not unique.

Last year, when I began struggling with my schoolwork and mental health, my dad gave me an analogy that I have used on quite a few panicky freshmen this year:

When you forge friendships, you sign a contract for a shared emotional bank account.  We all have to withdraw sometimes when times get hard and the rent to live in our own heads goes up.  We all deposit into this account when we win the lottery and everything goes right.  Sometimes, you have to withdraw more than you deposit for a while.  But that’s fine because, eventually, you’ll be in a better place with a heavier emotional paycheck and you’ll be able to deposit back into the account when your friends need to withdraw.

There is a lot to be said for making it on your own, but there is more to be said for being able to ask for help.

When you arrive at college, a good thing to do is to seek out supportive friends.  It’s hard to see that at first glance but you’ll quickly learn who of your network of acquaintances is there for you.  Find and befriend your neighborhood know-it-all.  She/he knows where the counseling center is and how to study and how to lighten your load.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There is no shame in being in over your head.  There is no shame in struggling with your mental health or your classwork.  There is no shame in crying in front of your friends.

There is only shame in being too proud to admit to yourself that you can’t do it alone.

College is hard and sometimes, you just need to withdraw from your shared emotional bank account.