Since grade school I can remember telling my mom and dad “I want to go to college, but far, far away”. They thought I was speaking eight-year-old nonsense at the time, but that dream never left my mind. This isn’t because I had an unhappy home life by any means, I have just always loved adventures that have pushed me outside my comfort zone. Before I knew it, I was seventeen and I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life. I was sitting in my college counselor’s office ready to make the final decision and she asked me “So, are you going to be that girl from Vancouver, Washington that moves to Alabama?”. Just the sound of that excited me, and I knew in my heart it was where I was meant to be for the next four years.
Here I am, three years after that decision, and I am still in love with my adventure at UA. In fact, I love it so much that I convinced my younger sister to begin her college adventures down here. I am asked all the time, “Aren’t you homesick?”, or, “Isn’t it a bummer that you can’t just drive home?”, and, “Don’t you miss your momma?” All I tell them is “Trust me, UA is worth it.” Freshman year at Alabama is so busy and so fun that you often forget how far away you really are, but any transition two thousand miles away from home is never an easy one. Here are my top five pieces of advice for anyone coming to UA from afar!
1. Take any opportunity to go meet new people
I was the girl freshman year who knocked on every door on my floor and said, “Hi, I’m Rachael! I’m from Washington State and don’t know anyone.” Seems silly right? Well I ended up meeting some of my best friends that way. Almost everyone the first couple weeks of school is willing to meet new people just like you, so don’t be afraid to say hi and start a conversation.
2. Call your mom and dad, but not too much
My parents are hands down my best friends, but I found when I called them too much, it made the distance harder for both of us. When I called them every day, they let me know every little detail of what was happening at home and it made me want to be there with everyone. When I started calling them three times a week, we got to share our biggest highlights and would simply be excited to listen, instead of feeling like we were missing out.
3. Get involved and keep busy
One of my biggest regrets freshman year was not being very involved on campus. The busier you are the less time you think about how far away home really is. It’s also a great way to meet more awesome students that have the same interests as you.
4. Trust that the friends you make will turn into family
I think I cried harder going home for the summer after freshman year than I did when my parents drove away from dropping me off. The connections and bonds you can make with your peers at UA are unbelievable, but it takes time to develop. Be patient and put yourself out there to meet the best friends you will have for the rest of your life.
5. Take time to appreciate going to college out of state
If you are coming from out of state, chances are you will answer, “What brought you all the way down here!?”, at least twice a week for the rest of your college career. After answering the question a thousand times, you can get tired or even annoyed of the response you routinely give. It wasn’t until recently I remembered how lucky I really am to be able to go to a college like UA as an out of state student. So many people can only dream of being able to go to an out of state school, so answer the question with a smile and don’t forget how lucky you really are.
So future UA students from afar, get ready for the best four years of your life. Is it scary at first? Of course, but is it worth it? Absolutely. There is no place like the University of Alabama and no matter where you come from, it won’t take long for this place to become home.