Updated: Nov 16, 2020
PHHS ‘17, York College of Pennsylvania '21
We all picture what it will be like to be on our own for the first time: away from mom and dad and any siblings we might be leaving behind, and maybe even a beloved pet. But what is it really like to live on a college campus? When I was planning on going to college I did not want to go far, or at least I thought I did not want to go far away, until I found myself moving over three hours away to go to York College of Pennsylvania. This was a major adjustment. I had never shared a room with anyone in my entire life but suddenly I was living with a complete stranger in a brand-new town and starting college level classes, I was completely lost.
Living on a college campus can be scary at first, especially if it is a new and unfamiliar area. The first thing I did was talk to a few upperclassmen that I had met on my first day to get a feeling of how safe my campus actually was. I talked to the students because administrators and campus safety officers are going to tell you whatever they think you want to hear sometimes, but students will give you the facts. The first thing they said to me was, “Our campus is not in the safest area but I have never felt unsafe on campus”. This really spoke to me and is something that I tell people when they ask me for the truth about safety on campus. I knew then that although it was different, I was protected by the thousands of other students around me as well as the faculty, staff, and safety officers.
The next thing that crossed my mind was how I was going to decorate my dorm room. To be honest, my dorm room my freshman year had empty walls on my side of the room and when my roommate moved out halfway through the year, the entire room felt empty, but I learned that decorations are everything. The next year I went out and got lights, pictures, pillows, etc. to make my room feel like home and it really helped make the space mine. It is important to be able to express yourself as much as you can in college because it is like a starter pack for the real world. Now I am definitely not an interior designer by any definition but being able to show what I love and who I am through the decorations I had in my dorm room really helped me adjust.
Another piece of advice that I give to any prospective student is to explore your college and get to know each unique part of it during your first year. I took walks around my school as often as possible to take in the beauty that York, Pennsylvania had to offer as well as learn my way around. The best part about exploring your school is that you’ll always have something new to find. For example, even as a junior in college I discovered an elevator in the business building which could have saved me walking up and down four flights of stairs three days a week my second semester at school.
If you do not have a car like I did my freshman year on campus, I really suggest making friends with someone who not only has a car but is also a commuter. The commuters can really be your best friends because they can tell you about the best places to grab a midnight snack or the best shopping malls to go to, and they can help provide transportation if you need to get off campus. I remember my freshman year, I would start to go a little crazy if I did not leave my campus at least once a week to do something because I would feel trapped (little did I know that just three years later I would be quarantined in my house feeling even more trapped). I made an amazing friend who would take me on drives anytime I needed and was always there for me. Even that one time that we got in the car and just started driving, ending up in Gettysburg at three o’clock in the morning just before an 8:00am class... these are the types of memories that I will have forever.
Overall, living on campus and away from home is not always going to be easy, but if you make the most of it and find people who can become your school family you will be able to thrive on campus for the next four years and enjoy almost every minute of it.