Leaving home to go to school is one of the biggest decisions and steps that we make in our lives. For most Aggies, including myself, the fear and anxiety that comes with being on your own are offset by a safety net of knowing we are still within a reasonable distance of any member of our family. But what do you do when you move to a new state with no family close by?
When I arrived in D.C, I was thrown way out of my comfort zone, moving in with 4 strangers in a state and city where I knew no one. I might as well have been on an island. I was already missing my bed, university, family, dogs, and friends.
Here are the 3 things I did to help combat homesickness while in D.C.
- Establish and expand your social network. I have not always been the most extroverted person when it came to meeting new people, but I knew going into this program that building a social network would be the key to a successful transition. What I did was start small and focused on connecting with my roommates. After all, I would be seeing many of them, and we already have similar career interests and aspirations. My roommates and I quickly turned into a mini family, and we have helped each other grow our social networks within the program and out and have great adventures together.
- Do the things that make you happy. Everyone has hobbies or activities that they truly enjoy, whether that is going to the bookstore every weekend for a new book, exercising, hiking, or bowling. I found that it is important to try to not lose those activities while in D.C. Almost anything you could do back home, you can find in D.C. as well. For me, this was simply going to the movie theater every so often when there was a new movie out and signing up for a gym membership at the local rock-climbing gym. This has made D.C. feel less like a foreign land and a little more like home.
- Try as many new things as you can. A busy mind prevents a wandering mind. Trying new things in D.C. has been a great way to avoid homesickness. Some have been simple, like going with my roommates to a new Chinese restaurant. Others have required some effort outside my comfort zone, such as going to explore a new part of town by myself. There are so many things to do in D.C. and surrounding areas, and you could do something new almost every weekend. For me, my favorite new things have been the Smithsonian museums and a day trip my roommates and I took to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall.
Anyone could take my lessons that are laid out above as a sort of templet, but everyone is a little different. I urge anyone moving to D.C. to take some time to reflect and think about what methods do and don’t work for you. It is also easy to get overwhelmed when you first get to the city, and even I could feel myself getting “paralysis by analysis.” So, it is also important to be decisive and take things one step at a time.
Office of Congressman Michael Cloud
Washington, D.C. | Fall 2021