When you head off to college, chances are good that you’re not only living in a new space but you’re probably now in a completely different city or state.
Moving carries with it a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, fear, surprise. Whatever you’re feeling, know that you’re not alone and that moving can involve many good and difficult things. When you arrive at college, you might not know very many people, know where you are going, or understand the cultural norms of you’re new locale. More than likely, you’re belongings are hidden away in suitcases and boxes, and the element of not being able to find the things you need when you’re looking for them can also feel a bit unnerving.
So, how to adjust? We’ve compiled a few simple tips to help you get to know the area you’re in a bit better and adjust more easily.
1. Spend a little time with Google Maps
When you move to a new place, it can be easy to feel like you’re lost and out of touch with what’s nearby. Doing a little homework ahead of time can help you understand where you are in relation to a variety of other things. Take some time to look around on Google Maps and note which grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, malls, the pharmacy, and more are nearby. That way, when you suddenly discover you’ve run out toothpaste, you won’t feel like you’re having to traverse the wild to figure out where to go.
It will also keep you in the know when you and your roommates are looking for a place to grab a quick bite or need a coffee shop to study for exams.
2. Make it home
There’s something very comforting about arriving in a new space and decorating it with your own belongings. Hang some treasured pictures of family and friends on the wall, set up a few lamps and other pieces of decor, or string some twinkle lights or globe lights around your windows or along the ceiling for some extra ambiance. No matter what space you’re in, a throw pillow or two, a cozy blanket, and some reminders of home can take the chill out of a bare, brand new place.
3. Unpack as soon as possible
There’s nothing worse than living out of suitcase for weeks upon weeks. Having all your belongings hidden away in boxes usually proves to be a challenge when you’re looking for that specific notebook or your toothpaste at seven in the morning. Unpacking your things will suddenly give you a sense of familiarity in a place that otherwise feels unfamiliar. Boxes generally all looks the same and feel dull and featureless—not to mention, they make spaces look cluttered and hard to get around.
On the flip side, you don’t want to utterly exhaust yourself, so be sure not to push yourself too hard. Take things slow and steady, and give yourself a goal of unpacking two to three boxes a night if you happen to have a lot of them.
4. Get to know your neighbors
Whether you moved into a duplex in a neighborhood or you’re living in the dorms, knowing your neighbors can help you feel a lot more at home. Chances are good that you’ll probably run into people just coming and going to your place of residence, but there’s nothing that says you can’t simply knock on doors and introduce yourself as well. Exchange phone numbers if you’re open to that—it can be helpful to have someone to text in the event of an emergency. Or if you simply run out of eggs and need a couple for your cookie recipe.
5. Get involved
Does your new neighborhood have a Facebook group you can join? Does your hall host activities or your dorm put on events? While it can be easy to hide away in your dorm room those first few days in a new place, it’s a good idea to get out and about and participate so you can meet people. Plus, the busier you are participating in activities, the less time you’ll have to sit around feeling scared or alone. It’s still important that you get good sleep and make some time for yourself to process this life transition, of course, but don’t hole away by yourself when there are fantastic, fun things to be a part of.