Whether you are an incoming freshman or an upperclassman, life on campus is going to look a little different than in years past and the upcoming fall will present some unique challenges and transitions that we all will have to adjust to. As we prepare for a drastically different semester and new lives in the face of the pandemic, here are some tips for freshmen getting used to life in a new place and seasoned college students who are faced with a campus that may not be like the one they left.
Make Your Living Space Your Own
The first step to ensuring a smooth transition to school is decorating your living space in a way that creates a safe space for you when you aren’t going to class, work, or running errands. At the end of a long, busy, or stressful day, it is important to have a dorm room or apartment to return to where you feel that you can relax and recharge. Take time in the last few weeks of summer to compile decor and sentimental items that you plan on taking with you to college in order to create an environment that is distinctly yours and reminds you of your home, friends, family, and any other memories that can be calming for you. As a freshman, this was one of the most beneficial things I did when I moved into my room. Having a place full of photos of loved ones, items that I had in my room back home, and colors and patterns that made me happy, helped me feel as though I had a place on a campus that oftentimes felt large and intimidating. Additionally, as we will be spending more time in our homes on campus as a measure to social distance and stop the spread of COVID-19, it has become even more critical that you feel at home in your living space. As you prepare to move into a new place, make sure to include decor that comforts and encourages you, overall making a chaotic semester a little less overwhelming.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Surroundings
hile this mostly applies to new college students, it is also important for older students to feel connected to both their campus and surrounding community. If you are not familiar with your school’s buildings and roads or the streets of your new hometown, it will be difficult to feel at ease as you transition into life at school! Use the first few days and weeks of the semester to memorize how to get to your classes, the nearest grocery store or pharmacy, and other locations that you will frequent as a student. Knowing your way around is a great way to ease any nerves you may have about living in a new place and will overall help you feel more confident as you begin a new life on campus! Similarly, get to know who your roommates, neighbors, professors, and classmates are. While we will still be maintaining social distancing guidelines in the fall, we can still be friendly to each other and people like this will likely be able to help you feel more at home on campus and will be resources to turn to whenever you need help in class or get locked out. I know it can be scary living in a new place, I’ve been there! Don’t let anxiety take over and instead, take a moment to get to know where you will be living for the next few months.
Socially distant does not mean anti-social! During this time, make sure to stay connected with your friends and family back home while also building new relationships in your new home! Set up weekly times to call or Facetime those who are important to you, take time to get to know your roommates and others who live in your building (at a distance, of course!), introduce yourself to new people and check that you are not isolating yourself during this time! The internet makes it easy for us to stay in touch with others without being face to face, so take advantage of your resources and both maintain and build relationships with others via text and video call. It is normal to feel lonely as a freshman, and may even be something older students experience as they get used to quarantining at school. While our circumstances are not ideal, it is important to adapt and find new ways to keep yourself surrounded by people who support and encourage you!
Be Kind to Yourself
Navigating this next semester amidst a pandemic unlike many of us have seen in our lifetime is going to be difficult and sometimes stressful, but it is critical that we all remember to be gentle with ourselves! There are going to be days where we are discouraged and don’t feel our best, but in these moments, breathe, and give yourself opportunities to relax and decompress. Take breaks from homework and other activities that add anxiety to your days, and instead, take out your favorite book, try a new recipe, call your best friend or your mom, paint your nails, write or doodle in a journal, or catch up on a TV series. Filing your time with things that give you joy and make you feel more at peace is a great way to combat any anxiety you may have about being at school with the world in the state that it is. Each day is going to be a little different, but you need to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that it is okay to have bad days! Recognizing the validity in the diverse range of emotions you’ll be faced with this coming fall as both new and returning college students will allow you to face each day stronger than you were before.
Moving to a new place is hard, especially while we are facing a pandemic, but I believe in you! Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay motivated! Here’s to a new semester of changing times and learning more.
Alpha Gamma Delta at Mercer University