Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about college. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
It was the night before I was about to move from home and away from my parents, friends, and family. As I laid in bed I had a pit in my stomach. What was I thinking? Sure, the summer had been exciting and full of hope as I anticipated the new adventure of transferring to a school a state away. Yet in the twelve hours before that move was to be made, I could feel doubt and fear rising up within me.
I loved my life. I grew up in a loud and joy-filled home with my parents and six siblings. We lived within walking distance of our cousins and were part of a large community of families who lived life together ever since I was a baby. Now here I was about to say goodbye to it all. I was afraid that all I had held on to so tightly would slip right through my fingers.
When You’re Moving Away from Home for College
In my moment of fear, I was forgetting God’s provision. You can’t look forward when you are looking back. I was forgetting that He had opened the doors for me to enter into a new chapter of my life, a part of my story that He desired for me. While slightly nervous, I was determined to embrace this path that I knew the Lord had set me on. So, from one who was very prone to home-sickness, here is what helped me to find community, purpose, and joy when I transferred schools my Junior year of college.
Stay in touch with family.
Moving away from home doesn’t mean you check out of your family and friends’ lives. I recommend calling regularly, but in moderation. Having a specific day of the week to call home can give you something to look forward to and be a helpful benchmark. The moderation part is key because it can be tempting to call too often when we feel a pang of homesickness. But when it feels challenging, it is really important to invest in the people around you whether this be a friend you’ve just met or housemates. Allow them to bring you comfort. If you only share your heart with your loved ones back home, it will prove extremely difficult to form relationships.
Early on, it was hard for me to call my parents and I would get choked up. But maintaining that connection with them outweighed the ache. In time, that ache subsided.
Don’t go home for six weeks.
This was the advice one of my old friends received from her mom when she moved to a different state for school. Her mom’s point was that if you come home every weekend because you are home-sick or afraid of missing out on something, you are holding yourself back from developing connection and community where you are.
When I moved away I chose to embrace this idea, and it was really rewarding. To help distract myself from breaking this commitment, I spent those first six weeks pouring into on-campus activities, learning about groups and clubs to sign up for, and saying yes to coffee, lunch, and dinner invitations. That’s where my next tip comes in.
Be brave. Join a Bible study, extracurricular, or intramural sport.
My housemate invited me to join the Bible study she was leading on campus. I looked forward to these weekday evenings when my friend and I would walk to the dorm where our study was held to talk Scripture for a couple of hours. It was at one of these Bible studies that I met one of my dearest friends. I participated in the Students for Human Life group that was on campus and got to know my classmates better by spending time with them at our meetings and events.
Committing to the same group of people for a consistent period of time is one of the best things you can do to meet people and build friendships. For those of you who are more athletically inclined (not me), intramural sports can also be a great way to meet people.
Be gentle with yourself and rest.
It was the weekend two or three weeks after having moved and I was exhausted. I called my dad to vent. “All I want to do is stay home and not do anything,” I said to him. I had been pouring myself into so many different events and introducing myself to so many people, but I still felt guilty for wanting to stay home on a weekend.
Thankfully, he offered me the wisdom I needed and let me know it was okay and important to take a night off from social activities. That was a turning point for me! My dad’s advice to be gentle with myself helped keep me from getting burned out from over committing and re-energized me for the coming week.
Write + Pray
Discover your story within His.
Be intentional with your roommates.
When I transferred my Junior year, I moved into a house a few blocks off campus with three girls who I barely knew. Thankfully, each of them were wonderful and warmly welcomed me into their lives, introducing me to their friends and inviting me to join them at the fair, movies, or out to eat.
The key to keeping our house running smoothly was our weekly house dinners. Each week we would rotate who was cooking. On the weeks when we skipped a house-dinner, I could feel tensions rising. The space between our shared meals created space for misunderstanding. I would convince myself that one of my roommates was upset with me, even if we hadn’t had any disagreements. Then, when we would all sit down again for dinner, we all caught up like normal and I would realize that my anxious feelings were due to the fact that I hadn’t been intentionally communicating.
Make a budget for restaurants and entertainment.
Looking back on my college experience, I wish I had been slightly less frugal. That might sound crazy, but I was very focused on making my dollar stretch and paying off student loans as quickly as possible. Financial responsibility is incredibly important and I don’t want to make light of saving, but it is good to set aside at least a small amount of money to have fun, too! There were many evenings where I would decline invitations out to dinner with friends, or forego going to a movie on opening night. Sometimes these decisions needed to be made, and sometimes I needed to make the splurge in order to get to know people better.
Create an allowance for a night out, and when money is in a pinch, plan a pizza making party or girls night in. A part-time job can also be a great way to earn a little extra cash for these types of splurges, and be an opportunity to meet people!
Find an Adoration chapel.
First and foremost, remember that wherever you are, Jesus is. In times of struggle, run to Him and He will meet you. When the world isn’t bringing you comfort, let Him be your saving grace. There were many a night when my peace, security, and joy were found in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
As you prepare for this move, spend a few minutes researching where your closest Adoration chapel is to campus. Maybe there is even one on-site!
This is just one of many stories about college life and discernment. We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.