This week’s post is one that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as an international student. Being SO far away from home, ensuring that Georgetown actually felt like home to me was extremely important. I know some people find it really easy to settle in and some people don’t settle in at all and go back home every weekend. I’m definitely the kind of person who needs the place they’re in to feel like home, however, it took me a while to settle in. I remember during my first few months of college I constantly felt like I was on edge! It’s only now that I’ve been here for a few months that it really feels like home. I thought I’d write this post to give some of my top tips for making your university feel like home!
Establish your routine
Whenever I start something new or something that seems daunting, establishing a routine always helps me. It takes a while to figure out what your routine will look like, but I guarantee that once you have one, it will make it feel a lot more like home. Your routine can be as rigid or loose as you like; I’m personally a strict routine kind of person, but I know people who don’t like to plan out their days but still have a general routine. I think the thing about having a routine that makes you feel at home is that sense of not having to think about every part of your day/week and plan it out as if it’s the first time you’re doing it. After all, at home you fall into a regular and familiar routine, you don’t need to think about every aspect of your day as if you’re doing it for the first time, so hopefully once you have something similar at college, it will also feel like home.
Learn how to spend time alone and with others
Something I think that’s important is finding that balance of spending time with others but also spending time alone. At home, I wouldn’t constantly be with family or friends, I was comfortable in my own company. When I first moved to college, I realized that I was so scared of being lonely that I barely spent any time alone which wasn’t healthy for me. Each person has their own balance, some people love being surrounded by others 24/7 and some people need more alone time. Either way, I’d just remind you to find that balance. Just because you’re in this amazing place and meeting lots of great people, doesn’t mean you can’t take some moments to yourself to step back.
Find “your” local spots
I think a big part of feeling at home is knowing your surroundings and exploring the area around you. Something that instantly made me feel at home was getting to know the Georgetown neighbourhood. Having my favorite running route, favorite spot to get a matcha latte, and favorite spot to sit outside and read really made me feel like I was at home. It helped me build my routine and made me feel like the ~main character~ so I definitely recommend!
Set aside a tradition similar to what you have at home
When I say tradition, I don’t mean something elaborate, but just a little ritual you have at home. For me, this is simply eating dinner with friends every night. At home, my family and I would eat dinner together every night and it would be a time to unwind and forget about other stressors. When I came to college I knew that it was important for me to take time every day to have dinner with friends and step away from school work (even if the food isn’t that great). It’s something that I look forward to every day and just makes me feel like I have a little bit of home here!
Realize you don’t constantly have to be on the go
Something I’m surprised I haven’t heard people talk about before is how hard it is to take time off and feel relaxed at college. The reason I say this is because typically at home, school/work and home-life were physically separated. However, at college you’re living in the same place where you’re working and socializing. I definitely found it so hard to separate to work and rest aspects of my life in the first semester; I felt like I constantly had to be working because I was “at college” and forgot that this was also “home.” It was only when I went home for winter break that I remembered what it was like to actually take time off. So, something I’d say is just to remember that you don’t always have to be on the go, take some time to relax!
Remember that you can’t control everything
I think a big part of making your new space feel like home is remembering that you can’t control everything. At home you’re used to your surroundings and could probably exercise some control over what was happening around you, however at college you may have noisy neighbours and other things around you that you can’t control. In my first semester I definitely used to get agitated about not being able to control what was going on around me, and I would say that this definitely is not a good idea! You have to learn to be flexible and go with the flow, because if you let things get under your skin, it will only harm you!
Realize that it takes time
I’ll leave you with one last bit of advice and remind you that it takes time to settle in somewhere new! For some people it might be really quick and for others it might take longer. I remember looking around during the first semester at my friends who seemed to have settled in so quickly and beating myself up for still feeling homesick! But, just know that it takes time and there’s nothing wrong with the speed that you’re going at 🙂
Anyways, that was a few pieces of advice I’ve accumulated over the past semester of living at college. I’m sure there’s still lots for me to learn, so if you have any pieces of advice, be sure to leave them in the comments section!
See you soon,