Deciding where you want to spend the next four years of college can be one of the most important and stressful decisions you will make. Trust me, I have been there and it is a struggle. There are so many questions that run through your head with answers that you can’t always find. While it was extremely difficult and slightly terrifying to do, I made the best decision of my life during that process.
I decided to go to school out-of-state, so if this is something you’re considering, be sure to read below and find out what it’s like.
The First Few Weeks
Not going to lie, the first few weeks of school were miserable for me. Like really, really miserable. After my family dropped me off, I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. I kind of wandered around campus by myself, occasionally sitting on a bench sobbing over the phone to my mother. Being 400 miles away from home felt more like 400 million.
Once classes started, I was able to get more of a grip over myself and my crazy emotions. I am from Pennsylvania but I am 100% a Buckeye. So, just like most of my friends attend Penn State, a lot of students from Ohio attend THE Ohio State University. This was one of the biggest challenges to overcome being an out-of-state student – I felt like everyone already knew each other.
But before I knew it, I started making friends who introduced me to their friends who then introduced me to their friends. While it may seem impossible at first to make friends, just remember it will happen, it is just a natural process, so don’t try to force any friendships. Making friends quickly got me past my homesickness and sadness, it made everything so much better. I was finally able to get past the first few weeks and begin to enjoy my time in Buckeye Nation.
The First Semester
Once those first few weeks went by, it seemed as if school was flying by. Each week would come and go before I could even blink, but it wasn’t all easy. Along with the challenge of overcoming homesickness and making friends, I experienced the very real challenge of college classes.
Everyone says that your high school ways won’t survive in college and I think most of us just brush it off. I mean how hard can it actually be…? But trust me, it is hard! The first semester, I studied for all of my classes the same way I did in high school because I did not really see why that wouldn’t work.
Don’t worry, after those first exam grades came around, I realized that everyone who had already experienced college was right and that high school study habits will not get you anywhere near that 4.0. I was so focused on making friends and adjusting to being so far away from home that I forgot the real reason I came to Ohio State.
This piece of advice isn’t just for out-of-state students, it can be for any new college student: remember why you decided to come here. Personally, I decided to go to Ohio State because it is one of the top school’s for both of my majors and it is full of so much opportunity. I had to kick myself in the butt and find new study habits.
During the process of creating promising study habits, I also had to create a routine for myself. You will find that college does not require a lot from you, unless you allow it. And you better allow it to. Instead of sleeping in until my first class at 11:00 A.M., making sure I go to lunch at the right time everyday so I could see all of my friends and pushing my homework off until tomorrow so I could “relax,” I decided to force myself into a routine that would pay off.
I set my alarm every morning and made sure I had time to review my notes and study before my first class. In between classes, I allowed myself time to relax and sit somewhere to eat and watch Netflix. After my classes ended, I headed straight to the library or whatever my favorite study spot was at the time. I spent hours upon hours in the library doing homework, studying and keeping up with my classes. When I felt I put in enough time for the day to my classes, I would head to the gym. After the gym, I had the rest of the night off and could spend it however I wanted to.
I highly recommend creating a routine for yourself as soon as you get to school because it is the only way you will be productive while away at school, unless you would rather get average grades and sit around.
The Second Semester
I went into the second semester in a much better headspace than I did the first. I already had great friends, I knew what to expect of my classes and myself, I knew my way around campus and I knew the routine I would force myself into.
However, I still had that occasional homesickness. Since football season was over, most kids who lived close enough to home would leave for the weekend. Sometimes there were weekends where campus was completely dead and I felt like it was only the international students and I left. These were the weekends that were really, really hard for me.
When all of my friends had the chance to go home and I simply could not go home for just a weekend, I got really homesick. This can be a really hard thing to overcome but I got through it and so can you. I learned to use this alone time to my advantage and take it for what it was.
I decided to spend the time studying and getting all of my work done. I also made sure to spend some time relaxing in my dorm catching up on TV or sleep. I also now have the option to go home with my friends for the weekend since some of them live super close to campus.
Preparing For Next Semester
It is crazy how fast time flies while you’re away at college. It is also pretty crazy how much you can overcome in one year being so far away from home. Being an out-of-state student helps you to overcome so much more than the typical student.
I got over my homesickness, I learned to fly back and forth by myself, I made friends in a whole new state that will last me a lifetime and I gained experiences that I simply cannot put into words. While being an out-of-state student can seem pretty intimidating at first, I would not change it for anything.