Going to College in Chicago: The Experiences and Advice from a Transfer Student
Looking back at my first quarter at DePaul, it feels like ages since I have been a new student. Transferring to a school so far from home (I’m originally from California) was a terrifying thing, especially because I had never been to Chicago. I was scared that I was making the wrong choice coming to a new city, because I feared I wouldn’t make new friends or be able to make connections to start my future career. However, it was times where I was anxious about what the future had in store that I forgot why I decided to come to DePaul in the first place. Living in California my whole life, I knew I wanted to explore another part of the U.S. before deciding where I wanted to settle down and start my career. I also knew DePaul had an amazing film program and the CDM was a great resource to meet like minded people who I could collaborate with and make friends. Chicago also has so many opportunities to finally be independent, taste the full extent of adulthood, and discover more about myself. It was in time of uncertainty and homesickness that I stopped myself, and tried to not lose sight of why I was here in the first place.
Take a deep breath, remember why you’re here, Gloria.
One of the important things I learned from being here at DePaul is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. While going to a brand new place, it was often challenging to adapt to new changes (for example, commuting to class by train!) I found that often I would get hung up on small things like feeling awkward talking to new people in attempts to make friends in classes or other social situations. I find that oftentimes, while making the first move in an attempt to make friends can often be awkward and a nervous experience. But these encounters can often lead to amazing friendships and experience you might not have had otherwise. If you’re having trouble starting a conversation, I’ve found that trying to make connections with others interests is a great start. In fact, I met one of my best friends by commenting on how cute her cat lanyard was, and our conversation just went from there.
Another thing that I’ve experienced being so far from home was missing friends from home. To be honest, I’ve never really been the kind of person to get insanely homesick, but I found that coming to DePaul by myself was incredibly alienating at first. What I did to combat this was a few things: firstly, I frequently called my dad and called my friends back home. Being able to establish and maintain my relationships even while away from home was important for me and my mental health. Additionally, what also helped was making friends who were also new transfers like myself. I was fortunate enough to live with two other transfer students who were just as anxious as I was. Together, we helped one another during difficult times, and were able to support one another and be close friends
While being in a new area and experiencing new things, especially in college, can often be stressful, I think it’s something that can help you discover more about yourself. It’s important to realize that while there may be times that are difficult, it is perfectly normal to feel things like being homesick, or anxious. With these feelings, college can be such a rewarding and life changing experience that will help you transition into adulthood. That being said, if you’re a new student, I believe in you and those difficult times do pass. You got this! 🙂