Ask Amanda: Homesick student

Dear Amanda,

I’ve been feeling really homesick lately, and I’ve been having a hard time making friends on campus. I may just have culture shock, but I haven’t been happy at Colby. Do you have advice for ways that I can meet new people on campus?

Dear Homesick,

The most important comfort I can give you is the knowledge that you are not alone in feeling like you don’t fit in.  I assume from the nature of your question that you are a first-year.  This assumption comes easily because many people have the same anxieties as you when they first come to college, no matter the location.  Even I, the eminently wise paragon of virtue whom you ask for help, also had trouble making friends upon my arrival at this campus. 

I put forth here a list of suggestions to ease your angst.  First, maintain your connections at home to keep some semblance of familiar relationships.  Try to talk regularly with parents, old friends, former teachers, or whoever reminds you of home. 

Second, try to get involved in some clubs or other activities on campus.  I know that joining a new club can seem intimidating, but I also know that virtually every club enthusiastically welcomes new members.  (If they don’t, let me know, and I will beat them up for you.  I make this promise only because I would be terrible at beating anyone up, do not condone violence, and am confident that I would never have to follow through on this due to the welcoming nature of the aforementioned potential clubs).  The clichéd maxim that you will make friends if you find people with shared interests is actually pretty true. 

As the semester wears on, you will also likely start to make friends with people in your classes simply by proximity.  Ask someone to grab lunch after class, and they will probably say yes because at this stage in the game, many first-years are still terrified of eating alone. 

You will probably be assigned some group projects, which gives you an excuse to further your relationships with peers outside of class.  Take advantage of these opportunities by collecting their contact information under the pretense of setting up a time to meet and then later invite them to get lunch or some other meal.  Everyone has to eat, so why can’t they eat with you?  If you run low on conversation topics, just comment on the fine culinary concoctions on your plate or chew really fast and pretend you have an important meeting to attend.

Third, if you truly feel that you do not fit in at Colby, start looking into the option of transferring.  There is no shame in this option, and transferring does not make you a failure or mean that you made a bad choice.  About a third of college students end up transferring at some point.  Application due dates vary by institution, but the fact that you got into a school like Colby makes you a great candidate for admission to a different college or university, one that may suit you better.

Good luck, and although I always internally roll my eyes when someone says this to me, these things take time.  Many people take a semester or two (or more) to find their place at college, so you are doing just fine. Promise.

Best of luck, keep on going like a truck,

Amanda

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