10 Things I Learned Going to College Away From Home

I live 10 minutes away from Disneyland, but I go to university 20 minutes away from California’s capital city. It’s about 423 miles apart.

I never thought that one day I would leave for university quite a distance away from home. Yes, I may not be across the globe like other students, but to me this is the furthest I’ve ever been away from home for extended amounts of time.

My first year was full of trials and tribulations. It was tough on me emotionally and physically. It was full of the unexpected.

Here are 10 things I learned going to college away from home:

1. Homesickness is real

The first week was so hard for me. I cried almost every night, and even thought about transferring back home! It was tough for me because I’m a very family-oriented girl, and I had a really close relationship with my family at home. But with all things in life, it’ll pass by. It’s only temporary so don’t let the first few weeks or months discourage you. Stay positive and keep busy! Before you know it, your flight back home will be just a few days away. No one has ever told me this but when you go home for a short amount of time, it will actually feel more painful leaving again because you’re then reminded of what it’s like to be at home only to be leaving so soon. 

2. Don’t let food fool you

Do not go out to eat 24/7. It is so tempting to go out EVERY weekend for boba or popcorn chicken, but it adds up! Save that money for the theaters, bowling, arcade, and other fun activities you could be doing together with your friends! All the boba money will add up and the next thing you know, you don’t have enough to go to the cinema.  My bank account at one point during the year summed up to a hefty amount of $15.00. True story.

3. No one probably knows where you live so pick the nearest well-known destination to you

When you first meet people, they will most likely ask where you are from. From my experiences, no one has ever heard of Garden Grove. A trick to this is pick the closest well-known area near your hometown. Mine was, thank goodness, Disneyland! The moment I say I live ten minutes away from Disneyland, everyone knows where it is. There are many instances where I ask people where they are from. I end up with a confused face and nod as if I know exactly what they’re saying. So know how to describe your hometown! It’s a great conversation starter.

4. Long distance relationships are hard

Communication is truly key. Mutual understanding is also very important. You’re both busy. You have different schedules. It’s okay if things don’t work out. I feel like long distance relationships really forces you to grow independently from each other and that’s a good thing. When you’re in a relationship, you aren’t ONE, you’re two separate beings. You need to be able to carve your own path. From my experience, it had really matured me and allowed me to focus on self-development. Grow and learn with your partner, separately. It’s okay!

5. Appreciate what is at home

Do not take what you have at home for granted. The food at the dining commons the first week is AMAZING, but trust me when you’re three months into the school year, you will find yourself settling for just a peanut butter sandwich. All your favorite places to hang around, coffee shops, and restaurants may not be the same where your college is.

6. Know how take care of your own health

My friends and I have been through all sorts of health-related problems together. Stomach flu, late night hospital check ins, the cold, sinus infections, and so much more. Know how to take care of yourself and of others as well. It’s so important to look out for each other. Know to contact your friend’s parents or guardian in cases of emergencies. Know about your own health problems and know what you’re allergic or sensitive to. Your parents may not always pick up the phone to help you so know how to take care of yourself first!

7. Go out with your friends, don’t study all day long

Don’t bottle yourself up in the dorm all day and night long. Go out for those late night adventures but remember to stay safe. Always be observant of your surroundings and stay in a group. I live for the midnight adventures with my friends. We’d walk through the arboretum of our school in the pitch dark and spook ourselves out for no good reasons. Make your college experience memorable.

8. Call your parents every now and then

The very least you can do for them is call them every week. I always called my mom in the morning as I walked to class. It’s so important to keep them updated and you owe them at least that much. Don’t wait for the moment that they have to call you! Tell them you miss and love them, I’m positive they would really appreciate it. Remember, this is their first time having you far away from home so think about their perspective and how they may be feeling. Imagine being a parent and your kid never calls you, wouldn’t you be sad?

9. Failing is learning

There are people around you from all sorts of background. Some will be much, much brighter than you. You will fail an exam probably for the first time in your 12 years of education. You will struggle. You will meet unfair professors and unfair teacher’s assistants. You will find yourself studying for HOURS straight and still fail a test. (I studied my butt off for a math exam, and I ended up with a solid D+ on it.) But in the end, as long as you’ve learned something, you have not failed in my opinion. Failing is a step forward.

10. Get out of your comfort zone

No one is here to push you but yourself. You have to make the effort to find friends and to go out and do things you’ve never gotten the chance to do before. You’re in control of your own life. Don’t shield yourself away from countless of opportunities. College is huge and you have to make the effort to get the best out of it. Try new things you never thought you’d do. My last quarter of freshman year, I took myself out of my comfort zone and joined a sorority. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. You really never know until you try!

College is a great place for you to grow and try out new things before you truly enter the “adult” world. It’s a place for trial and error. Whether you go far or stay near, just remember to stay true to yourself while keeping an open mind. It’s hard, but remember that the end game is what makes it all worth it.


Thao Janet


2 Comments Add yours

  1. jlizette4426 says:

    These were all great points to give! I wish I had known all of this when I had first started college. I lived through every single one of your points, so I’m sure college students will find this helpful. Thanks for sharing! xx


  2. I definitely rememver my mom calling me so much when i was away at college. I just got so lazy and always put it off until later!


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