Having A Strong Support System While In College

Having A Strong Support System While In College

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out" ~Walter Winchell

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Going away to college can be a scary part of anyone's life, but especially for those who are moving many miles away from their family and friends. For me, coming to Shippensburg this spring was both exciting and crazy because I would be finally away, getting the best education towards becoming a teacher, but it would also mean being away from those who have been there for me every step of the way. If anything, the process of going away to college has helped me find out who my true support system is and how much they truly care about me.

An example of this is my parents, who have shown me so much love and support through this difficult process. From trying to pick classes and crying on video call about being homesick, they have been there for me every step of the way. I always know they are a phone call away and that if I needed them for an emergency, they would be here in a heartbeat to help me.

Another important factor of my support system would be my crazy group of friends. I have had many people ask me why I left my home in New Jersey and left all my true friends there. The answer is simple; I wasn't friends with them until after I had applied to Shippensburg and I knew that they would still be my friends even if I was away at college or still home with them. Knowing that I can text them as well about my problems and still have our late night video calls makes me know that it will be okay while I am here. Making plans for spring break has been nothing but fun because we have so many ideas of things to do. When I am home for spring break, I want to be surrounded by love and support.

But not just my friends at home are part of my support system, but also my new friends here at Shippensburg has helped me with adjusting and being homesick. Without having them to help, I am sure I would be more of a hermit, sitting in my room all the time and not socializing outside of my room. It is amazing knowing that I can go to any meal with someone and being around others who have gone through the same thing I am going through now. They have been so nice and supportive to me and I am happy to have them as my friends.

Some may think this is crazy but my dog is also an important member of my support system because she is my cuddle buddy. When I am with her, I am happy and seeing her when I come home for spring break will be an amazing thing because she is going to be so excited to see me walk through those doors. I can already picture her little nub going and being so excited.

Having this support system has helped make this experience better because I know they are cheering for me at home and are excited to see me when I get home. Having a support system when away at college is super important because, without it, you would begin to miss the comfort of your home and wish you were there. You wouldn't know quite why you went away to college and what you are even doing here. When I question why I am away at college, I will call either family members or friends and they tell me why I am here. They show me that I am here for my education and for my degree. Becoming a teacher is something I have wanted to do since working in a Before and After Care Program back in New Jersey. Being around children helped show me even more so that I wanted to be a part of them growing and showing them that there is so much to learn in the world.

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A Word of Advice: Treasure The People and Places That Feel Like Home

Norfolk is somewhere I always look forward to visiting, no matter what time of year. It is one of a few places where I can truly relax.

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My family and I have been vacationing in Norfolk, Virginia for almost a week. I have been going to our house there ever since I was young. Norfolk is one of a few places where I can truly relax. I don't have to worry about school, jobs, appointments, or social obligations. My family and I try to make it to Virginia at least twice a year: once at Christmas and once during the summer. This year, due to my sister's knee surgery, we couldn't spend Christmas in Virginia so we decided to go for spring break instead. I am so happy we did.

Virginia is the place where my mom grew up. In fact, we bought her childhood home from my grandparents and stay there every time we visit. My mom's high school bedroom is now my bedroom. The yearbooks and photographs are all still neatly stacked on the bookshelf, and her art portfolio is wrapped in plastic underneath my bed. The windows are old and rattle when a storm hits. At night, you can hear the tug boats bringing the ships in at Lambert's Point. During the day, the birdsong is happy and you can see the whole West Ghent neighborhood walking their dogs or running on the Elizabeth River trail.

Norfolk is a beautiful part of the world. Our neighborhood in particular is an especially wonderful place to grow up. My mom spent her high school years here after moving around frequently due to my grandfather's career in the Navy. My grandmother built her small business in Norfolk: Rowena's Jam and Jelly Factory, which soon became Virginia-famous. We still visit with my mom's high school friends who all live in the area. We go to Smartmouth Brewery on Orapax Street and drive to Taste Unlimited for the best sandwiches you'll ever have.


Virginia BeachGrace Bellman

There is a lot of history in Tidewater. Even better, there is a lot of family history in Tidewater. If I have learned anything from coming to this area my entire life, it is the importance of maintaining a connection with your roots, with home. I, like my mother, moved around a lot as a child due to my father's job. If I wanted to, I could easily claim to have three or more "hometowns." But it is much easier to just say my most recent home: Dallas. I know deep down that London, Hong Kong, and Norfolk, Virginia mean just as much to me as my home in Texas.

Traveling home is so special. You are surrounded by people who have watched you mature and develop. They have witnessed all your weird and awkward stages, your not-so-graceful moments, and your most impressive achievements. Some of my favorite memories are with family and friends in our backyard in Norfolk on late summer evenings. The mosquitoes are annoying and the humidity is a little brutal but the childhood stories and laugh-until-you-cry tales are worth it.

The Elizabeth River TrailGrace Bellman

As a college student, I have found balancing my connections with home and making friendships at school challenging. I love all the people I have met at college and I know that I have found some future bridesmaids in my sorority sisters, brothers in my guy friends, and mentors in those older than me. But there will always be that tug home, whether that home is London, Hong Kong, Dallas, or Norfolk/Virginia Beach.

Right now, I am spending the week in Virginia. I am trying my best to live in the present and worry less about the future. We have walked along the trail at First Landing State Park, dipped our toes in the ice cold ocean at Virginia Beach, and eaten over half of my grandfather's almond pound cake in just two days. I feel blessed to have a place like this. Norfolk is somewhere I always look forward to visiting, no matter what time of year. Wherever it might be, I think everyone has their own form of Virginia. And it doesn't have to be a place. It could be home in the form of a house, person, or memory. Whatever it might be, I urge you to treasure it. Keep that connection strong and present no matter where your current circumstance takes you. I feel so fortunate that Norfolk will always be that place for me.

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