By Rachel Yen
Emotions are overflowing as your parents say their last goodbyes. You’re suddenly alone in a place that is now your new “home” for the next four years. But just saying its “home,” doesn’t really make CU Boulder a home just yet. So how do you go from feeling like a stranger to someone who really belongs?
1. Leave your dorm
Undoubtedly one of the scariest things about coming to college is realizing that you know no one and might not know where anything is. Coming all the way from Tennessee, I was definitely in this category. I wanted to leave my dorm room but didn’t really know where to go without looking and feeling completely clueless. Luckily, CU Boulder provides some help during your first few weeks. Go to Welcome Fest and Taste of CU. It’s an excuse to get out of your dorm, meet some new people and get some free food (you are a college student now after all!).
2. Find your “place”
Whether you went on a formal tour of CU Boulder or not, you are undoubtedly aware of the hallmark locations on campus: Farrand Field, Folsom, Norlin Library and many more. While I can frequently be found at these places, I have also found some of my own secret spots on campus. During my freshman year, I was at Wolf Law Library almost every night. While this may not sound like the most fun way to spend your time, it almost became a comfort to know I had a place that wasn’t as busy to go to. Another place that some students don’t know about is Varsity Lake along University Street. It’s quiet and nice to just have a little time with nature when it seems like you’re being flooded with homework assignments and other responsibilities.
3. Accept your new home
Whether you’re 30 minutes away from home or thousands of miles away, there are plenty of ways to stay connected to your hometown and family. While this can help those early bouts of homesickness, it’s also good to push yourself and separate a little and allow yourself a chance to fully become a part of your new school. It can be hard to feel like you belong on your new campus when half of you is miles away rather than dedicating that energy to your new opportunities.
4. Find your people
While it can be incredibly easy to make friends at college, you can also just sit in your room and never really get to know anyone else. But why do this when you have the chance to make new friends and find your “people”. Everyone’s in the same boat, so just go say hi! Get involved in clubs and find people who have similar interests. I have found some of my closest friends through study groups in classes where we all needed a little extra help.
5. Give it time
While it’s easy for me to give this advice with three semesters under my belt, it may not be as easy to use this advice as soon as you get to college. So while it may be important to separate yourself from your home a bit, it’s also okay to still call mom and dad when you just need to hear their voices, maybe just not every day. Some people need even a whole semester to feel a part of their new home and that’s okay. The time and process will vary for each individual, but either way just be patient for a few weeks, several months or maybe even a year.
The day will come when you walk around campus and look around and wonder how you got here. But at the same time, it’ll be hard to imagine spending your next four year anywhere else than in Boulder.