"Now that I have entered my final year of college, I suppose I am expected to look at the thousands of bright-eyed freshmen who have moved into their dorm rooms for the first time with a certain degree of nostalgia and envy.
I’m supposed to tell them, “This will be the best year of your life” and “You have nothing to worry about” and “You are so lucky. I wish I could go back.”
The August before I moved away to college, which seems both like yesterday and eons ago, those were the things everyone told me.
No one ever said my first year would be difficult to adjust to, or that sometimes I would feel lost or anxious or lonely or homesick.
So, when I did inevitably feel all of those emotions, I kept them locked up inside of me like deep, dark secrets I was terrified of letting out. I felt guilty and defected.
I watched the sea of other freshmen students scream in Beaver Stadium with all the happiness in the world. I scrolled through the Facebook profiles of my friends from home, who suddenly had hundreds of pictures with their new college friends and statuses like, “Loving College!!” I walked through the Welcome Week fair where hundreds of smiling students stood behind booths for every club imaginable.
So, I too, plastered on a smile during that first month of college. When friends or family from home would ask how I was doing, I’d tell them, “I love it!” I went out to parties and laughed and pretended I was having the time of my life.
In reality, I felt like everyone around me somehow knew each other, and I would never find a close group of friends. I achingly missed my boyfriend who was three hours away. I was unsure about my major, and it caused a great amount of anxiety. And the feelings only intensified because I felt like I was walking around acting like a false, giddy version of myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I wouldn’t let anyone else find out either.
But I didn’t dare let anyone see me that way, because I was sure that no one else felt like me.Then one morning after returning back to school from a weekend at home, I finally told one of my roommates, “I’m really unhappy here.” I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my chest. She lay in bed while everyone else was asleep. “Me too,” she whispered. And just like that, I suddenly wasn’t alone. Over the next few weeks we had long talks about how we had been feeling. She felt lonely and lost too in our big university. Later, I found myself in my dorm hallway while another friend cried in front of me about how homesick she was. Little by little I realized it was egotistical of me to think that my feelings were entirely my own. A lot of people felt a little bit like I was feeling. Even the people I knew who seemed so well adjusted had days when they missed the comfort of old familiarities. I finally stopped worrying that my peers would look at me strangely if I was having a bad day. I didn’t mope around in bed, but I also was honest with the people around me and was able to make stronger, more genuine friendships. Looking back now, I can sigh with relief that things did get better. I hardly recognize the scared, anxious girl who sat in her first college class three years ago. But I also didn’t suddenly get “happy” overnight. It was a slow process of learning to be who I was when I was away from everything I knew, and learning to make choices and be content with them. Freshmen, I’m not trying to scare you. For many, if not most of you, this will indeed be a great, worry-free year. But if you are like me and you hit some hurdles along the way, please know: You are not alone. Don’t expect everything to be shiny and picture perfect the second you walk on to campus. It takes time. And if you end up feeling sad, don’t feel guilty. Things are going to go wrong. You’re going to run out of money. You’re going to break up with your significant other. You’re going to fail a test. You’re going to reassess your major and your goals. You’re going to miss your safety net from home. You’re not going to be able to juggle 20 activities at once. You’re going to make bad decisions. Everyone will. And no one is watching you with a judgmental eye. That’s what I wish I could have told my 18-year-old self. And finally, everything, eventually, will be OK."
FirstPoint USA Top Tips on settling into a new University
Don't forget - no one else knows anything either!
It's easy to forget that everyone is on the same boat as you! It may seem like others are barely fazed by the new college experience, but they won't be any wiser than you when it comes to finding their way around and how to meet new people. Break the ice and talk to others about how to get around, ask advice on things like where to get your ID card and how to sign up for classes. They will probably be glad to know that there is someone else who is not sure what to do!
Sign Up & Get Involved!
College is a time for trying new things and broadening your horizons. Make sure you throw yourself into new and exciting activities and events. Getting a sports scholarship with FirstPoint USA means you are at an advantage where you will already have a sports team to welcome you! However, make sure you read the bulletin boards and get involved in clubs to explore other interests - it's great way to meet new people with similar interests! It also looks great on your CV!
Always make sure you attend your classes. It is hard starting College and not knowing many people, so don't top up your anxieties by falling behind in your course work. If you are always trying to catch up with your workload, you won't have as much time to meet new people and socialize. Manage your time wisely.
Get into the mindset that you are there for the long haul. Embrace your new city or town and immerse yourself in their culture and enjoy the activities available to you there. Resist the temptation to decorate every available space in your dorm with photographs and reminders of home though. It's nice to think about people at home who are important to you, but it will only make you feel homesick to look at these images all day. Keep the momento's to a minimum and balance them with pictures of new friends!
Talk to someone!
You are not alone. Speak to a team mate, room mate, or class mate about how you are feeling. Chances are they have been feeling the same. You will find that simply speaking about things will put things into perspective. Don't forget, the world is a much smaller place now - use Skype or social networks to contact friends and family at home when you need a little pick-me-up.
Don't forget, if you are a FirstPoint USA athlete on a sports scholarship to the USA, and you need any advice or are having trouble settling into to your new life - you can contact us!
The majority of our staff have all been to the USA on sports scholarships themselves, and have all felt homesick or had troubles adjusting at some time or other. We will be more than happy to help!
Or, if you want more information about sports scholarships to the USA, get in touch with us today!