Lessons From My First Semester 1,500 Miles From Home

Wait so where are you from? Idaho… is that like by Iowa? These are just a few of the questions I commonly get asked as a student at the University of Alabama. As far as I know, I am one of two people from Idaho that attend here, and I actually know the other guy. It was definitely a last-minute decision to come here and essentially displace myself from everything I knew. However, I've learned some valuable lessons.

1. Homesickness WILL Hit

I always stubbornly insisted I was ready to leave Boise, as I had lived there for 18 years. Oh boy… was I wrong! The first month or so was fresh, new, and interesting, so it didn't hit as hard. Once October hit, I wanted to see my family, boyfriend, and friends more than anything. I found myself missing my car, my favorite coffee shop, and the mountains. My situation is mildly unique, in that I did not go home ONCE the whole semester. I have never been more excited to go back home to Boise for Christmas in my life.

2. Communication Is Key

When I first got here, I started getting annoyed with the amount my mom was texting me because I felt excited and independent. It wasn't before long that I realized I wanted to talk with her as much as I could. I text her when my coffee was great, lunch was good, I stubbed my toe, I got a good grade, or I start feeling homesick. When you're so far from home, you HAVE to put in an effort to keep the ties you have with your friends or significant other. The ones that loved you before you left want to keep in touch and support you through the adjustment.

3. You Are Your Own Advocate

Your parents are not there to take care of you. Your significant other and friends are not there to watch out for you. They can't just drive down for a few hours and come help you with a problem. YOU are responsible for your own safety. Whether it is academic issues, going to parties, spending time with new people, etc., it is completely on you to make sure you are safe. Try not to learn this one the hard way.

4. You Probably Won't Find Your Best Friend

This is especially true if you were not able to do formal sorority recruitment, like me. On a massive campus such as Alabama, it is extremely difficult to find a person just like your best friend from back home. You'll certainly make acquaintances and friends to hang out with, but the majority of your most personal support will probably come from those at home. Getting involved with a church ministry, major based group or special interest group will be your best bet at finding people to click with.

5. You'll Wish You'd Been More Grateful For Your Car

Unless you're willing to make a week-long cross-country drive, you likely won't have your car on campus. Until I didn't have it, I never realized how truly dependent I was on that thing. Going to the grocery store, out to eat, or running errands can become a real chore when you have to coordinate it with other people. I am also the person that would turn the music up and drive around aimlessly for stress release, and now I often feel trapped on campus 24/7. I wish I'd been more grateful for the freedom my car provided to me.

6. In The End, You'll Be Grateful For It

It might sound like the whole first semester was a depressing sh*tshow. However, there are things I'm grateful for. I've gotten to be submerged in southern culture in the most explicit way. I've become more in tune with my priorities and the kind of people I want to surround myself with. I've had amazing experiences at Crimson Tide football games, late night Waffle House runs, and peaceful Starbucks study sessions. Overall, I don't think I would trade this semester for anything.

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