As I drove back to campus this past Thanksgiving break, I caught myself reflecting on my first collegiate break freshman year: I had gone home, I listened to my friends brag about their awesome, new college lives, and I regretted going to Ohio State. That’s right, I hated it here during my first semester. Where some people had trouble adjusting to the academics or finding what they liked, it turned out that my biggest challenge during my first semester was making friends (not to say I didn’t have my hiccups with those other things too, but I digress). The largest contributor to this struggle was the fact that I had come here from Tennessee. I didn’t know a single person here at Ohio State and I was pretty shy. I’ve always had trouble making new friends since I’ve never been the most outgoing person and all. A large portion of my friends in high school had only come into my life due to some other mutual friend. But I didn’t have that here at Ohio State. I had to start over, completely new. However, here I am, now in my third year, and I can’t imagine how life anywhere else could have turned out as well as it did. So here are some tips if you’re also a(n) first year (out-of-state) student feeling just as defeated and out of place as I did my first semester:
- Stay Positive and don’t lose faith. Throughout my first semester I couldn’t shake my negative experiences, which ultimately altered my entire perception of Ohio State. This place just isn’t for me. I am never going to fit in and find friends. For so long I led myself to believe that there was no hope, and I should just transfer before it was too late. It took quite a bit of time, but eventually I made my first friend (shortly after I had convinced myself to give up hope, too), and that was the beginning of the turning point to my Ohio State experience.
- Keep trying. Don’t give up if you haven’t found your fit. I joined four different student orgs and tried my hardest to make friend in my classes and res hall. Unfortunately for my freshman self, all but one of these resulted in failure, and that one wasn’t even a success until a week or two before finals.
- Be patient with your transition. Being at Ohio State was such a different experience than anything I had expected or experienced at home. There was so much newness all around me and it made everything significantly harder for me. To add on to that, I was the only one in my friend group to go away for college. As I was trying to get used to all the newness here, I would often turn to my friends back home for support, but they could never quite comprehend just how hard of a transition I was going through. Like I said, they were thriving and loving their new lives. Our lives just weren’t the same anymore. OSU was rapidly changing me and this only made me feel more alone and disconnected, not just here at OSU, but also to the old life I once knew.
My first semester was pretty rough, but now, I have the best roommates, friends, and support system I could have ever have hoped for. Ohio State is my favorite place in the world and it’s impossible for me to fathom that one day I’ll have to leave. If you take away anything from this, remember that there are tens of thousands of students on this campus and over 1,300 student organizations on campus; there is a place here for you. You may not find it right away, but you will eventually. Because you belong here.