Building a home away from home: Five tips for long-distance students

by Alyssa Eby

The friendly and comfortable atmosphere of Bluffton’s campus is a major factor in drawing students to attend the university. A majority of these students are from Ohio and are only a few hours from home, if not closer. With such a rich religious affiliated background, there are handfuls of students who travel quite a distance to attend Bluffton University.

Moving to college is stressful enough after graduating high school. New friends, the adjustment to college classes and being away from home can be a struggle for anyone.

Mary Bender, a junior from Virginia, and Noah Rathbun are two students who have to make long trips back home. Rathbun has to drive over 12 hours to get to his hometown in Massachusetts.

Their experiences with loneliness, adventures and struggles of attending college far from home have helped them compile a list of what they think are five aspects which make the transition and four years a little more bearable and a little less lonely when attending college far from home.

  1.     Get involved.

Without family and friends from home close by, it is important to step out of your bubble and get involved in various activities. It’s a great way to make friends, and some of the best memories can be made during those times. Whether you meet people during Bible study, going to a movie, finding a club on campus, participating in intramurals or other campus events, getting to know other people well is one of the most essential steps in making college your “home away from home.”

  1.     Find something that makes you happy.

Sometimes a distraction is needed. Life at college can become extremely overwhelming then you are far away from home to boot. It is important to find something that relaxes you as well as makes you happy when you’re stressed and overwhelmed. Bluffton provides many opportunities for events or clubs that you may enjoy. Or, if you just need time alone, Netflix can be a great friend.

  1.     It’s okay to be homesick. Think of and talk to your family regularly.

Attending college doesn’t mean cutting off your family. Most likely homesickness will come and go and talking to your family will remind you that before long the semester will be over and you will instead be missing your small dorm room and peers on your floor. Friends who live close to school will understand more than you think so don’t be afraid to talk to them.

  1.     Look at it as an adventure.

College is a new step in life. You get to make new sets of memories, friends and create a home for yourself while you’re in school. Be excited as you think about all the possibilities in your time here. You make your own choices in college which lead to your own life experiences with friends you meet each day- be open to anything.

  1.     Have fun.

This is college. We may be here for our education but also  remember to have fun. Go to friends’ houses, immerse yourself in the community and participate in your favorite activities. The stress of being far from home can be enough without the added responsibility of class work, a job, time management and adjusting to a new environment.

It can be difficult when your friends go home for the weekend and are there in under two hours and you didn’t even get to go home for fall break or knowing your family back home is carrying on traditions without you there.

The great thing about Bluffton is the sense of community that can be felt as relationships form. It’s amazing how many invitations home for weekends, dinner or breaks you will receive when peers realize how far away home is for you.

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