Jersey Girl in an Annville World: Feeling at Home When You're Out of State
Updated: Nov 15
PHHS '17, Lebanon Valley College '21
For some of you, you’ll be going to college out of state and it can be a little daunting. I can relate to that as a student of Lebanon Valley College (LVC) in the small town of Annville, PA. It’s 2 hours and 15 minutes away from my home here in Mount Tabor. Even though it’s just a state line over, I was just as nervous as any of you may be feeling right now. So how do you cope with feeling at home on a college campus away from your own home? Here are 8 Tips that I have for the Class of 2020 based on my own personal experience starting out as a Dutchman legacy.
It’s okay to cry so let it out!: As much as I visited the LVC Campus when my sister Kaitlyn went there, it was still difficult for me to say goodbye to my parents the first time. It was during our freshmen orientation and after our convocation, we went out on the football field to say goodbye to our families before the rest of the festivities. Now I’m not someone who cried a lot before college but looking back on that moment, I realized that I needed that release as it was a major breakthrough for me. Don’t be afraid to get a little emotional. This is a big milestone for you and the other students around you so embrace it while you can!
Take some time each week to give your friends and family a text or call: During the first week of classes, everything is going to feel very foreign and strange. You may even feel a bit homesick. In the midst of the schoolwork you’ll encounter overtime, give your family and friends a text or call. Your friends are gonna go through some of the same things too and your family will be your biggest champion through college.
Bring home memorabilia/gifts from friends & family to school: Even though you'll be living in a dorm room with a roommate, it’s nice to have some stuff that reminds you where you came from. These little pieces of home are great conversation starters with new friends and they make your side of the room a little more you. A couple of things that I have brought back to school every year is my “Home is Where The Heart Is” plaque that my sister made for her time in college which has the state of New Jersey with a heart inside, and a framed Mount Tabor Children’s Day shirt that was designed in dedication to my grandfather. We’ve worn that shirt every year when we sing the Mount Tabor song since August 2017. I also have a picture frame that my friend Tanvi made for me with a picture from our senior prom so even something relatively inexpensive can bring you and your friends joy because there’s a lot of heart that goes into them.
Join a club/organization/activity on campus: When you start your freshman year, your college will have some sort of Activities Fair in which all the clubs and organizations will be there to introduce themselves in hopes to recruit you. Don’t be a stranger! As a member of two choirs, a music fraternity, and a student-led company, it’s always wonderful to see new faces and share what we do in our respective groups.
Keep your dorm room door open during orientation: I know this is a tip that is always brought up, but really take this advice. Meeting the people on your floor or hall is a great way to start mingling with new friends. One of my first friends I made lived right down the hall from me and we had so much fun! We still keep in touch and talk from time to time. Moments like that can really make some lifelong friendships happen.
Get to know your classmates during the first week: Even to this day, I’ve gotten to meet so many lovely faces in my classes. Your first year will probably be a mix of classes for your major and school-based curriculum so you’ll be in a few classes with students from other majors. If possible, be friendly and introduce yourself- you might just have your first friend. The nice thing about classes for your major is there’s a good chance you’ll see the same people quite a bit during college. As a music major, I get to see other music majors every single day practically. It’s like your own little hub on a college campus.
Don’t be afraid to stand out amongst the crowd: As a Music Business major, we have a small number of people within that major but I am still required to take at least one ensemble and lessons for my primary instrument which is voice. I started out in our Concert Choir as one of 7 freshmen who got in which was cool in itself. We were a strong ensemble and the repertoire we had that year was amazing. However, one of the highlights of my freshmen year was being asked to join Chamber Choir in the spring. Of course, I said yes and even though I had to learn a lot of music during Christmas Break for a performance on the weekends before spring semester classes started, I made a name for myself as the only freshmen in Chamber Choir that semester. In my voice lessons, I have grown to enjoy the challenging works and even songs that are a bit out of the ordinary. My voice teacher never really had students who were into that stuff before so it made me stand out there too. Embrace your differences and create your own path as a college student.
“If something goes wrong, don’t give up… just go on”: This is a quote from one of my favorite kids’ shows that I carry with me every day. You will have good days and bad days in college- that’s just a part of life. However, don’t let your bad days consume you. Better days will come and you’ll feel right at home before you know it. And remember, your family and friends will always be there for you no matter what.
That’s all for me- if you have any questions/comments/concerns/excitement about anything college life related, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Even though we are going through this pandemic, seeing this community rise up to the occasion makes me a proud alumna of this school district.