Embrace Every Experience: How to Enjoy Your College Years

Moving to a new city fresh out of high school all alone is one of the scariest things you can do. You know no one, the culture is different, and it feels like you are the only one feeling like you made the wrong choice. You might feel like you’re supposed to be at home instead of being surrounded by a bunch of strangers who you don’t feel a connection to.

If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. That’s how I felt when I first came to college. I didn’t know a soul on campus and all I wanted to do was go home and hug my mom. It was a rough time for me, and I felt so alone. Seeing everyone in the dining hall sitting in huge groups and me sitting alone made me feel like it was just me. Everyone found their group right away and I missed out. 

Trust me, just because people are sitting in a large group, doesn’t mean they are sitting with their friends for life. They are just as scared and alone as you are, even if they don’t show it. Sometimes it takes a few tries before you finally find the people that make it all click. In the meantime, there are ways to combat the loneliness and fears of being on your own. 

My freshman year, I would force myself out of my comfort zone and ask people I wasn’t too close with to go to the basketball games. Sometimes it was awkward, fun, nerve-wracking, the list goes on. But a friend did stick eventually, and we are still friends to this day. 

If you’re feeling homesick, the last thing you want to do is force yourself to get acquainted with your new home. But for me, it was the best thing to do. When I needed to get out of my dorm, I would take myself on dates around the city. I’d visit a new café, go downtown, and walk in places I hadn’t been before, and go on runs around the city. Running the streets of Chicago is what made this city start to feel a bit more like home. Having the familiarity of running past my favorite houses but also being able to take a new turn and find a new favorite piece of the city was definitely an experience I would recommend to anyone. 

I truly felt at home when I met my best friends, the people who embraced me for who I am and loved me at my lows and my highs. These people aren’t easy to come by, but once you find them there’s no looking back. I found these friends my sophomore year when I gave the panhellenic recruitment process a shot and I am so grateful I did. Although I never saw myself in a sorority, sometimes the best experiences are the things you never expected to do. DePaul is full of so many unique, funny, and wonderful people. It can be hard to meet these people in class and the dorms, which is why getting involved outside of your mandatory college experiences is so crucial to making your new city feel like home. 

My advice? Be open to trying new things. Text someone you’re afraid to text. Ask your classmates to study in the library together. Go to campus events. Get involved in an organization you saw yourself in from the beginning. Get involved in an organization you never thought you’d be a part of. Anything but staying cooped up in your dorm room. Don’t go home every weekend, even if you want to. Force yourself to embrace where you are and get used to your new environment. Some things simply just take time. These years are so short, and pretty soon you’ll be walking across the stage, wondering where they went. So, embrace the new, the questionable, and the crazy. They lead to amazing things. 

~ Gracie

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