For my whole life, I lived in a town that I knew inside out . I had friends that I had known for as long as I could remember and always had a place to sleep and when I needed it. Then, as we all knew the day would come, I started applying to colleges and fell in love with West Chester University. Leaving Lancaster County and moving away from home wasn’t difficult for me. An hour drive to and from my hometown and my new town was exactly what I needed to build my own independence and have a great college experience.
I was like anyone else who was getting ready for their first year at college. From shopping for decorations so I could have the most stylish dorm on my floor, to grocery shopping with my parents for food that I’d no doubt never eat because I’d always be at the dining halls on campus gaining the freshman 15. I thought I was set. Well shortly after my freshman year had started, my parents dropped a bombshell on my plans. They were moving across the country. I no longer had a home only a short drive away from my school. I no longer had a place to sleep and eat when I wanted to be back to those familiar surroundings. In only a few months, my comfortable living became a memory and we were moving away from home.
Learning and Coming to Terms
It’s normal to expect that college would help build our independence and learn how to be away from home. Yet most people I know here at WCU don’t have to hop on a plane every time they want to see their parents, their pets, and siblings. I had to learn how to do things on my own in a way that others didn’t. I also know that I’m not the only one and that’s why I’m writing today. It has been about 4 years since moving away from home and when my parents have moved thousands of miles away from me and I have learned more than I could have imagined. If I could make it easier for someone else, maybe even a future college student, to deal with being far away from home, I’d love to have that opportunity. So here are MY top tips for living a plane ride away after moving away from home!
Maintain old connections while creating new ones.
I always had great friends from my hometown, but I didn’t realize how close I had become to them and their families until I no longer felt like I had a home in a place I had always lived. Almost immediately, my friends started reaching out to tell me that id always have a bed and a home at their place if I ever needed to go back. I’ve had families of friends practically adopt me as their own child when I wasn’t able to get on a plane for long breaks from school. It is truly one of the most humbling feelings to know there are people who love you and willing to help you, even if it may inconvenience them at times. Stay connected to old friends if they’re around, they’ll be the first ones to help you.
Not only have my hometown friends been amazing, but I’ve created new families with the people I’ve met here in West Chester. Sometimes even your new connections will be willing to take you home and show you their hometown and offer to make it your own. Now that I have been friends with the same people for a few years now, I have families all over Pennsylvania willing to take me in if I ever need a place to stay. New connections can be just as helpful as your old connections, but maintaining both of them can be SO helpful when you’re far away from home!
Call your family often.
I don’t know what I’d ever do without my mom. Having her live only a short distance away from me was something that I took for granted. You never truly realize how much your parents help you until they’re no longer there to do so. Now that she lives so far away and i’ve moved away from home, I’ve built a new closeness with her that I can only attribute to our distance. I can barely go a day without calling her and letting her know how my day has been and keeping her updated on all my new gossip. When you get to hear your parents’ voice every day, it can sometimes help you forget that they are so far away. It’s reassuring to know that the distance may be far, but the love is not.
Embrace your independence.
This is most important. Living thousands of miles away from people who used to help you with everything is the most frustrating, but educational experience. I often feel as though I had to grow up a lot faster than my friends here at the university that have their parents drop off groceries or help them do laundry during the weekends. I’ve had to learn how to do everything for myself and I’m proud of that. College is supposed to prepare you for your career, but this experience has prepared me for my life. It’s always important to remember that we’re all out here trying to find our way and for some of us, it’s more difficult than others. Embracing your independence only puts you one step ahead and gives you the opportunity to fail and try again.
In the end, everyone has a different path in life. For me, I’ve embraced my new identity of being a small town country girl with a house in big city Sarasota, Florida. Dealing with being far away from home can be really hard. Some days I think it’s the worst thing that’s happened to me, but other days it’s the best. Either way, if you are someone who has to move away from home or have had your home move far from you, just know this: it gets better, it gets easier, and you’ll figure it out in time.