Starting college can be a turbulent, transitional period, and moving to a new campus always feels a little disorienting. You don’t have the streets memorized yet and you’re probably still searching for a good coffee shop. My personal advice for finding your fit in a new setting is to make yourself feel more at home.
It’s important to take control of your own environment. Whether it’s a dorm room, an apartment, or an art school locker, you’ve got to make your space into your space. Find out what you like and try out everything: put posters on the wall, tear them down, move your furniture, rearrange. Of course, if you share a space, you have to respect your roommate’s wishes too, but you can always personalize. When you make your space into something you enjoy, coming home will always be a break—the perfect place to go after a long day.
Try, try, try.
Feeling more at home on a new campus can be difficult if you’re not familiar with campus etiquette. Find out what’s going on at your university: what kind of events you can attend, how the buses run, and where your classes are. Don’t be afraid to try new things. When I was a freshman, I made the personal goal to walk through every building on campus at least once. You might get lost, but you’ll also get comfortable. A campus flourishes with opportunities only if you look for them.
Push campus limits.
It’s important to push those campus limits, too. Step outside the world of the university and explore the surrounding city. If you’re in a new state, take a look at the local grocery stores. Have you ever been to Meijer? Wander into new restaurants, coffee shops, and thrift stores. As a student, I always enjoyed exploring the local parks and animal shelters outside of campus. Wherever you go, there’s no shortage of community.
Exploring a new city or campus and understanding the local life is an important aspect of feeling more at home, but it’s also necessary to integrate things from your high-school life. Ask mom for your favorite recipes and make time with your new friends to cook them. Bring your favorite outfits and invite your old friends to visit you. Feeling more at home in a new space doesn’t mean you have to forget about your old space.
Moving to a new campus or city can be a terrifying, yet thrilling experience. I found it hard to feel at home in a place I didn’t know, so my best bet was to get to know that new place. It was necessary to explore the local areas and push myself outside of campus to find out what was happening all around me. Only then did I find the place where I could fit in, like home.
WRITTEN BY Sydney Bagnall University of Michigan
Sydney graduated in May 2019 with a major in English Literature and a minor in Graphic design. She has a knack for all things creative. Originally from Pennsylvania, she enjoys biking on rolling hills and never misses an opportunity to stop and observe the sky. If you don’t find her vigorously typing, you can find her outside.