Moving Away from Home

Rebecca Johnson
Rebecca Johnson

I remember when I moved into my first place that was truly my own. It was the beginning of September, and my dad and I had driven 400+ miles to move into my college apartment before classes started. It was hot and muggy. I remember driving and thinking the streets in Davis were too narrow compared to streets back home.  

Yet most of all, I remember feeling a bit nervous about living away from home. The next day, I said goodbye to my dad and the thoughts began to hit me. As I sat on my bedroom floor unpacking my boxes, I started having doubts about the school I chose to attend. 

How could I make such a brash decision? All my close family and friends were back in my hometown. I don’t know a SINGLE person here!

At that point in time, I hadn’t found my niche in Davis. Like most transitions in life, moving away from home is an adjustment that takes time. 

Here are three things to keep in mind if you’re experiencing similar doubts:

  1. It’s okay to feel you’re not okay.
    We all have mental health. That includes “good” mental health days and “not-so good” days. I was definitely shocked how starkly different my college town is compared to where I’m from. I grew up in an extremely diverse, urban environment, and my former junior college reflected that. When I moved to NorCal, that was not exactly the case. My college town is in the middle of farmland, and diversity is not represented well here. On top of that, whoever says college is a completely stress-free experience? It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. However, if it’s a recurring feeling that’s happening frequently, I encourage you to speak with someone at counseling services. 
  2. Join a club or organization (#ActiveMindsIsHereForYou)
    Joining a club on campus has so many benefits. Of course, you should join your local Active Minds chapter on your campus (or start one)!  I was really involved with my Active Minds chapter at my junior college, and I wanted that experience at the university-level. When I transferred to UC Davis, I was delighted to know there were other mental health advocates here. I met other like-minded people, and it really opened the door to other opportunities.
  3. Take your time, you’re not in a rush.
    Too often, I feel college is a high-stakes, high-pressure environment.  I mean, the average weighted GPA of admitted first-time freshmen is 4.0 – 4.2 at UC Davis. As a transfer student, there were plenty of moments when I felt I wasn’t “up to par” with my peers. It could be thoughts like, “My grades suck,” or “I’m not doing the 2-3 jobs/internships like everyone else.”  Truth is, we’re all experiencing our own unique college journey. It’s not a game or competition – it’s an experience that’s unique to you. Be the best person for you, not for anyone else.