Leaving the nest to go away to college can bring about a daunting feeling which gets compounded by feelings of depression and loneliness. 

The first thing I want you to know is that it’s perfectly normal to feel that way. I can promise you that it will go away after some time.  

I’m directing this message and words of advice for a specific group of Redbirds: transfer students. 

I might be wrong but assimilating into the campus community is arguably easier for freshman students because for one, they’re clobbered together in massive dormitories where they are pretty much forced to socialize with others. Two, registered student organizations at Illinois State University actively recruit freshman students. Three, they’re all pretty much in the same age group.

For transfer students, we usually find off-campus housing where we’re paired with random roommates or live by ourselves. We’re new to campus as well but since we only have two maybe three years left, RSOs don’t generally reach out to us. Transfers come from all age groups, so it’s hard for a lot of us to connect with much younger students given the difference in maturity level. Generally, we don’t even know who to reach out to even if we are interested in an organization on campus. 

Side note: a friend of mine recently moved to New Hampshire to begin his doctoral degree. In our most recent conversation, he was telling me how he felt depressed and lonely, to which I told him that was perfectly OK and that it will go away with time.

For any transfer students reading this (I’d be pretty surprised you even knew about The Vidette; this actually became my second home!), I want you to know I once felt the same way you might be feeling right now. 

ISU is an exciting place filled with some pretty great folks. I barely knew anyone here when I first transferred, and I recently had a pretty bad break up which made the loneliness worse. The feeling of loneliness and depression really set in, but I found ways to break out of that which is why I want to share some advice with you.

Advice number one: join one of the hundreds of student organizations ISU has to offer. It’s the easiest way to make friends, find a hobby to keep you busy. The Vidette did that for me even though I’m not a COM major (I’m in the Department of Politics and Government).

Even if it’s the Live Action Role Playing club (no offense LARP folks), it’s a way to socialize with other students and begin that adventure of making friends.

Advice number two: call your friends from back home whenever you get the chance. As an only child, my friends are my family. I cannot stress enough how much your friends can help alleviate that feeling of loneliness. If it wasn’t for Tina, John, April and plenty of others, I probably would’ve lost my mind.

There might be people in your contacts whom you haven’t spoken to in a while, so give them a ring or a text. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

Advice number three: build a relationship with your professors and those in your department/field of study. Towards the end of my first semester, I was asked to be a teaching assistant for POL 100. Personally, this opened some pretty great experiences that will continue to go a long way for me even after I leave ISU. 

I’m going to end this message by saying this advice can apply to non-transfer students and that no matter how difficult the transition into the Redbird community may seem, it always gets better. This is a promise from one transfer student to the rest.

ANDREW DOUGHERTY is a Columnist for The Vidette. Contact him at vidette_addough@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @addough

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