It has been 46 days since my mom and dad hugged me goodbye and then walked out of my residence hall to head back home to Western Springs, Illinois. As of last week, this has been the longest I have ever been away from my home, and for the most part it’s gone pretty well.
I was never too worried about the transition to college. I’ve moved around for much of my life—living in five different states all over the U.S.—and have gotten pretty good at adapting to new environments. That being said, there are several techniques that I’ve used in my first month and a half at Luther to make the transition more enjoyable and less stressful. I hope this might ease any anxiety or worries that prospective students (of Luther or any school) might have about the “away from home” part of going to college.
First of all, leaving home in the 21st century is an entirely different experience than it was for our parents. The existence of cell phones, Facebook, Snapchat, and FaceTime has significantly eased the sense of isolation from friends and family that we feel while away from home. Some (including myself) might question the true benefits of this connectedness when we see peers receiving copious amounts of text messages, calls, and Snapchats from their parents “just checking in” on them (An aside: I’ve been shocked to see how many students have parents on Snapchat—c’mon mom and dad, get with it!). Either way, technology indisputably makes the distance much less obvious. Being able to Skype with friends from high school and talk in our group chat has made the transition seem much less abrupt for me. While there are surely sometimes unhealthy levels of contact between students and their parents, I believe it really does make the whole process a lot more manageable.
Secondly, I’ve found the smallest things can often make me feel the most comfortable and at home. While I don’t consider myself to be very homesick, having things that remind me of home makes it easier to build a home here. Having the blanket that I’ve slept under for the last six years at Luther makes my room in Brandt feel like my bedroom in Western Springs. And while we are indeed here to explore new ideas and places, meet new people, and to jump into new experiences, having mementos from my life before Luther helps me to feel at home in this new place.
Finally, and I understand this might come off as cliche, but it has been so fun for me to be busy. In a given day I don’t have much time to wish I was at home or that I didn’t need to walk across campus just for a meal. And when I say “staying busy”, it is by no means limited to official Luther College activities (which are great), but I mean to include anything that is interesting or fun. In the last few weeks, outside of official “Luther activities”, I have gone camping four times, asked Hillary Clinton questions about campaign finance reform, visited Luther’s windmill, slaughtered and butchered chickens at my professor’s house, and so much more. These are all things that I would absolutely not be able to do in the western suburbs of Chicago. I will definitely go into more depth about these experiences in future posts, but for now I just want to strongly advocate that all students take advantage of the unique experiences that Luther (and really any college) will offer them.
I’m so excited to be telling my story and to be able to represent Luther so directly. I really hope I can help demonstrate what it’s like to be a student at Luther College and answer any questions that you, the reader, might have.