MAKING COLLEGE HOME
For most people, college is a time of a lot of transition. I've gotten VERY good at moving. Moving at the beginning and end of each school year, packing a bag during Winter Break, Spring Break, weekends here and there. It can be draining, and it's hard to make living situations feel like a home.
I'm going into my third year of college. Here's some things that I've found that helped ease to transition to college, and help me establish and make a home at school.
Leave Stuff At Home
When I was preparing to move out for my freshman year, I took a lot of the decor from my room. I took all of my clothes (literally). My room at my parent's home was very very bare. So whenever I came home for the weekend, or during breaks, I was living out of my suitcase. I felt like I was in a hotel room. I didn't feel quite at home at college my first year there, and then I didn't even feel at home in my parent's home.
Having actual decor, bedding, and clothes at my parent's home made it so much easier to not live out of a suitcase. I knew I would have face cleanser, a toothbrush, pajamas, and pillows at home, so I didn't have to pack up so much stuff every time I wanted to visit. It's hard to have home split between two places, but it's even harder to not feel at home in either place.
Make Your Living Space Yours
It's so worth it to buy new canvases, bedding, plants. Have things that are yours, to make your place in college feel more like YOURS and like HOME, I think, is so important.
This isn't to say that materials will make you happy, but having things that you have picked out for your place of living can help make you feel more comfortable.
I like to have things that mean something to me around me. Some canvases and prints I have are from Live Salted, which is a women's ministry that has made such an impact on me, and now I work for as their Social Media Manager. They are prints with identity statements on them. One of my favorites is one that says "We are Worthy".
I also have canvases from Hobby Lobby and Target that have verses, and faith-based statments on them. Find what you want your living space to be! When it comes down to it, this is where you will make a home, so make it how YOU want a home to look and feel.
Another thing that I love is having plants around me (both fake and real, because let's be honest, I can't keep that many things alive). Hobby Lobby is where I usually go for artificial plants, and IKEA or Ravenna Gardens for real plants! Another fun thing if you're in Seattle is to go to Studio Life and make your own potted succulents or terrariums!
Oh my goodness, college is exhausting! Like seriously. No matter what you chose for your college experience, it's a major time of like and it is so tiring - emotionally, mentally, and physically.
It's easy to joke about how much energy and pep incoming freshman have, but to an extent, it's true! If you're living in the area that you are going to school in, you are living school. College is not an aspect of life, but rather is life.
You matter. Your health matters.
Say no to things that are not going to be life giving to you. It's OK to take a rest day.
Say no to extra shifts at work, to the party that sounds even more exhausting after your long day, to hanging out with friends when you want to be alone.
Some of my favorite ways to re-energize is to do some self care (check out our post on Real Self Care).
Take Care Of Yourself
One of the biggest things for me is to have a good skin care routine. Here's what I've found that works for me!
Everyday Cleanser - Milky Jelly from Glossier
Occasional Cleanser - Coalface from Lush (when I have a little too much oil)
Toner - Rose Water Facial Toner from Trader Joe's (YES! Trader Joe's has some amazing beauty products)
Face Masks -
What I put in my body significantly affects my mood, my energy, how I feel, and my sleep. Care for your body! Treat it nicely, and it will help so so much.
Here's some of my favorite resources for everything from groceries, treats, on-the-go, and recipes.
Whole Foods (also a great resource for recipes!)
Pinterest (literally every recipe ever)
Spiritually and Emotionally.
I really have to be intentional with having God time. It is so easy for me to just disregard that time. But having that time seriously affects how I feel. It can change the entire trajectory of my day. It helps me so much if I have a scheduled time during my day, that I stick to. I like to think about my time with the Lord as a coffee date with a friend, I wouldn't cancel on them. I am usually excited to spend one-on-one time with them!
A few of my favorite ways to spend time with the Lord is on my way to school by either talking to God like I would a friend, or having a full on worship session (no matter how crazy it looks). I also LOVE Bible journaling (here's the Bible journal I use!) I love it because whenever I go back to a verse or chapter that I've read or devoed on before, I can see my notes and thoughts from the last time.
Sometimes I'm just mentally done. I don't want to look at my phone anymore, talk to anyone, worry about anything. So every once in a while I like to go MIA. I'll schedule out anywhere from a couple hours, to a full day, to be by myself at a coffee shop. I turn off my phone, go alone, bring my bible, some homework, bring snacks, and just be with myself.
I'll often knock out a lot of homework, but if at any point, that starts to get overwhelming, I put it away, and turn to my bible or journal. I let this be an easy, no expectation time that is restful for my soul and mind.
Staying organized is also something that can really help me relieve mental pressure in college! I use three ways to stay organized. A planner, Google Calendar, and a bullet journal.
Everyone is going to stay organized in different ways so find out what works for you!
I use my planner for basically a written out version of Canvas. This is where I write down my assignments, project deadlines, and exams. I also use this for organizing deadlines for my internships, and for blogging! Anything that has deadlines, and isn't necessarily an event, I put in here.
I use Google Calendar for appointments, events, coffee dates, class schedules, reminders, and birthdays! It's so nice because you can college code different categories and set reminders for the events. It's a system that you have to figure out for yourself, but I have never found anything else that can keep my schedule more organized than that.
My bullet journal is where I brain dump everything. When I have so many things to do that are just built up in my mind, I just need to dump them out on paper. I can make my bullet journal look as messy or aesthetic as I want. I make to do lists here, and just write all of the thing I have built up in my mind so that I don't let it sit and get overwhelmed.
We have a separate post on Community that dives into how hard it is to feel at home when you can't find community. Going into college, I feel like all I heard was "join a club" or "find a study group". These are great suggestions that some people will really be able to use, but they didn't appeal to me. I wanted to find community outside of my classes and clubs at my university. I found community through The Inn, Live Salted, and the Vision 16, and through having a job. What it comes down to though is trying out new options. It's so uncomfy. No one wants to try things for the first time, especially if you're alone. It's super awkward. But I would encourage you to push past that awkwardness, ignore any lies that you might not fit in, and go for it! Ask a friend to go with you, or take that step and go alone. Sometimes it won't be a fit, you won't like it, and it'll be super awkward. But guess what! After that hour for the event is over, you never have to go back, and trust me, no one will remember that night. But it just might be incredible and you really dive in!
Universities have a ton of people, most of which you don't know. So make your school feel small. Join a small group, take a workout class, get a job (yes you can find community here!), join a housing community. There is something for everyone.
When it comes to finding home in college, it's trial and error. And that SUCKS. I wish there was one simple answer to make transitioning into college and living in college life easy. It's a struggle and there will be times where you want to be anywhere but college, and times where you are thriving and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. But hopefully there are resources that you can find that help you not go in so blindly, help you reenergize, and create a home for yourself.