During my first year at UChicago, I made a lot of new friends, explored a wide variety of interesting classes, and delved into extracurriculars (like screenwriting) that I had never tried before. Before I arrived at UChicago, however, I had no idea that my first year would turn out so great, and that the transition from living at home to being at college would go so well. Instead, I was nervous about being away from home. I didn’t know if I would miss home and how I would handle that, if it occurred. If I could go back in time now, I would tell senior year Elizabeth that she was going to be okay, and tell her about all the ways she would end up staying connected to home and making a home away from home at UChicago. However, since as of right now I still (unfortunately) lack the time traveling skills to do so, I am writing this blog post for my younger self, and anyone else who might need to read about this.
For me, the best way to stay connected to home, of course, is reaching out to home. I FaceTime my parents every other day around 9:30 PM, usually for about twenty minutes. Having regularly scheduled calls has really helped me, because it provides structure and continuity in my life. When I come across something during my day that I’m excited to bring up to my parents, I bookmark it in my head for our next FaceTime. The frequency of our calls allows me to maintain the degree of closeness to my parents that I had before I left for college. Creating a tentative schedule has also helped my parents, because then they know when to expect a call from me, and can work it into their calendars as well.
I also found my own support system similar to my parents at UChicago through College Housing. My House’s Resident Heads, or RHs for short, acted as friendly, adult figures we could rely on. They hosted study breaks weekly in their apartment, where Flint (my House) residents could congregate and munch on snacks, as well as play with their two cats. They were also always available for support whenever we needed them. Additionally, our Resident Assistants, or RAs for short, acted as siblings, who also hosted study breaks for us and gave us advice on classes and campus resources, given their knowledge and experience as third or fourth year students. Sometimes, I would think about how my dad would bring me strawberries to the study area as I was doing homework or how my mom had this intuition for always knowing when something was wrong, and what that kind of unconditional love meant. Although UChicago’s College Housing could never fully replicate home, I knew I had a strong support system in times of need last year in the dorm.
Another thing that really helped me last year was having a roommate (or three). I lived in a suite, with a roommate, and two suitemates in the next room over. I knew I could always turn to one of them to cheer me up. Amar and I would be involved in all sorts of shenanigans together. Lillian would lift my spirits with her enthusiastic greetings when we saw each other on the quad, and her ebullient personality made late nights sparkle. Kaothar gave me many hugs, offered me so much food, always listened to me, and could be relied on for level-headed advice whenever I needed it. My suitemates became my surrogate family in college. They were always there for me when I needed them the most.
Moving away from my parents was no easy feat, but knowing that I could call them frequently, and that I had wonderful suitemates, RHs, RAs, and friends in the dorm definitely helped ease me into the next step of my life. UChicago has truly become my home away from home.