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uni-life 4 min read

How to adjust to student life away from home

By Ashley 14 Apr 2019
Father helps son with box of belongings in bright living room.

Roma – 45°C heat, oil and gas industry, schools, churches, Darren Lockyer, largest saleyards in Australia
Toowoomba – 39°C heat, The Garden City, Empire Theatre, Carnival of Flowers, University of Southern Queensland

I grew up in Roma, a rural town 350 kilometres west of Toowoomba. To say that the two are complete opposites would be an understatement. Toowoomba is a bustling city, whereas I could count the number of roundabouts and traffic lights in Roma on one hand.  At the end of Year 12, I made the decision to move away from home to study at university. I committed wholeheartedly to the experience, even moving into McGregor College on USQ’s Toowoomba campus. By moving into the big world to achieve my goals, I also left behind my comfort zone, my family and my friends.

It was a big change that took a lot of getting used to. And I’m not just talking about the traffic! If, like I did, you’re about to make the move into the big city to pursue your degree, I’d like to give you some honest advice and a few pointers to help you with the transition.

First of all, in the early days there will be times when you feel like what you’re experiencing is the end of the world and that home has never felt so far away. You may feel like you don’t fit in and just want to race back home to what you know. There might even be times when you just want to curl up in a ball and cry and have your mum, dad or a friend from back home give you a big hug. At times it might feel like it’s all just too much…

But from my experience, those feelings don’t stick around too long. I’ll admit that the early days on college were hard, but now, years later, I know that my time on campus has given me lifelong friendships and so many experiences that have made me the person I am today. Here are my tips for making the move and getting passed those early days as easily as possible.

Living on college gave me the chance to meet so many people! Ashley with Res College friends at a College event
Living on college gave me the chance to meet so many people!

1. Plan your accommodation in advance

Before leaving home, I did some research into my accommodation options: share houses, Student Village or USQ Residential Colleges. I didn’t know anyone in Toowoomba so I didn’t want to move into a house with a group of people I had no relationship with – that just didn’t seem like it would work for me! In the end, USQ Residential Colleges ticked all the boxes. I could have my own bathroom (or share one, if I chose), it was well within my budget and also gave me plenty of opportunities to meet new people and get amongst uni life. Not to mention I’d just have to walk across the road to go to class! Write your own accommodation criteria and keep researching until you find an option that you’re happy with.

If you do decide to live on college, pick the one that is right for you. All of the Residential Colleges are slightly different, so don’t just go off the pictures. You’ll be spending a lot of time there, so if you can, actually go to the campus and see your options so that you can make an informed choice.

2. Make an effort to be social

Attend Orientation, every sporting and social event, every meeting, every opportunity. By getting out there, you will meet new people who will become your new ‘family’ and settle into campus life a lot faster than if you just keep to yourself. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your friends back home either! It’s not like you’ll never see them again, it might just be a bit less regularly than what you’re used to. When you’re first finding your feet, it’s important to have a busy social calendar!

3. Be kind to yourself

Everything takes time, so don’t expect to adjust in your first week away from home. If you are feeling down, reach out to a friend, family member, USQ Counsellor, your Resident Advisor or someone that you trust and are willing to confide in. It’s normal to find it a hard transition at first, but don’t give up! Be kind to yourself, take your time and be patient. Before you know it you’ll be loving life on campus!

Friendly faces have now become friends for life. Ashley with Res College friends
Friendly faces have now become friends for life

Last but not least, if, after you’ve given it some time, you decide that living away from home just isn’t for you, that’s not the end of the world! Just make sure you’ve given yourself a chance to truly embrace campus life before you make any decisions. My time on campus has truly been the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so glad I stuck it out in those early days. I’ve even gotten the hang of the roundabouts!  

If you’re thinking of making the move to a Residential College, find out more about what to expect with this Res College myth buster.

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