Thursday, August 9, 2018

How to Transition Into College After Summer

Transitioning back into college life after being home all summer was never easy for me. For starters, summer is my absolute favorite season. I live right near the beach so I spent most of my free time with neighborhood friends and cousins who I'm very close with. Once I had to start packing my belongings up to move back into school, I immediately felt a little sad. Plus, working and interning is much different from attending classes and completing assignments. After the work day is over, the work is (usually) done for the day unlike school. I usually associated moving back into school with the impending work that lay ahead of me and this caused me stress.

Generally, most people that I know or attended school with love college and can't wait to head back every fall. However, I was never one of those people. I appreciated my school but I was never jumping for joy to go back. I love being home and I can admit that. I love the tranquility and peace of studying or relaxing in my own room, which I didn't realize until I moved away from home and was surrounded by people 24/7. It's not that I was afraid to live away from home, I actually enjoyed having the opportunity to explore a new place and meet new people. I simply didn't enjoy feeling obligated to do something every day, especially if I just wanted to relax, or the feeling of never having a moment alone. I prefer to have a close circle of friends versus a large group. To be completely honest, I'd much prefer to spend my Friday nights watching movies or cooking with friends instead of partying or dealing with the normal college insanity.

With all this being said, as August winded down each year, I found myself growing anxious over the thought of returning to school for another year. Don't get me wrong, I liked the college I attended, but returning to school and immersing myself in a new atmosphere after a carefree summer was difficult. I guess it was similar to the first day jitters, only I was more nervous for returning to campus instead of attending my actual first day of classes. It usually took me a few days to adapt to my surroundings and get fully settled in after a long summer off, which is to be expected, but there are some key takeaways from my experience worth sharing for any new or returing college students.

1. Consider the Positives 
There's always a positive side to every situation. Not everything about living at school was bad. It was convenient to live right on campus so I could easily head to my dorm after class or spend time with friends on the weekends. I also learned to be more independent without relying on my family or friends from home to make plans or gain assistance. Like I mentioned earlier, living away at college gave me the opportunity to explore a new area and experience things I probably wouldn't have if I didn't live on campus, like a new restaurant, store, or outdoor activity.

2. Eliminate Other Sources of Stress
This is obviously easier said than done and not something I'm the best at doing. However, if you know moving in to school makes you anxious, try to eliminate other things that stress you out to give yourself some peace of mind. By this I mean pack ahead of time, finish all summer assignments, say your goodbyes to family/friends etc.

3. Identify Coping Mechanisms
When I'm stressed, I tend to bite my cuticles. I know this is a really bad habit but this habit is heightened when I feel more stressed. I'm that person that always has bandaids with them in case I feel the urge to start picking at my cuticles while in class or some other situation that makes me anxious. As I mentioned earlier, when it was time to move back into school I tended to feel more nervous and my cuticle biting habit increased. Identifying this behavior helped me deal better with stress in the long run.

4. Exercise
I can't stress how important exercising is, especially if you feel anxious. I was a long distance runner in high school, but I didn't fully appreciate the power of running until I began college. Running is the best way to clear your head and alleviate all types of stress. For a short amount of time, you can focus energy on something other than the things that stress you out. You don't necessarily have to choose running as your preferred method of exercise but it is the one I'd recommend.

5. Alone Time 
Don't forget to give yourself a little time here and there to remove yourself from college life. This could mean spending a little time in your dorm room, going on a walk or run, reading in the library, or whatever you prefer!

6. Create Meaningful Friendships 
Seek out people that aren't exhausting to be around and that you enjoy spending time with on a daily basis. I've had all types of friendships in college, and I will admit that some friends were more exhausting to be around than others. I appreciate the friends that enjoy making plans with me but also understand that we don't have to be in contact 24/7 to be friends.

7. Speak Up 
It's okay to speak up and tell someone if they are doing something that's bothering you. It's better to be upfront about it instead of letting is fester and leading to a massive blow up. If being alone for a little while is something you need or if you simply don't feel like going somewhere once in a while, it's okay to be honest.

8. Get into a Routine 
Now that you're back at school, finding a balance between homework, work, exercising and social activities is important. Balancing everything can be difficult but keeping track of obligations and creating a schedule is your best bet. Personally, I like to make a list of everything I plan to accomplish for the day and go from there.

9. Stay Healthy
I always feel my best when I eat healthy and get enough hours of sleep. Once again, both of these can be tricky during college, but at least you won't have to stress about feeling sick or falling asleep in class if you eat healthy meals and sleep well!

10. Be Realistic
Know that it's okay to feel stressed during the school year. At some point or another, everyone feels this way. You're only human so just do the best you can every day, and I promise you'll graduate and survive life just fine.

Check out a longer post on this topic here!

Thanks so much for reading and I hope this post was useful for those nervous about starting college or returning! 

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