A home isn’t built in a day

A student describes the emotions she felt when she left home for the first time.

Freshman actuarial science major Abbey Helterbren sits in front of photos of her friends and family in her room in 1300 Residence Hall on Monday. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

I’ve never been away from my home in Pittsburgh for more than a week before arriving at Temple two weeks ago.

I never anticipated moving away, but I knew Temple was the best option for me. Still, I was hesitant to put such distance between myself and my family. 

I have always been very close with my relatives. Half of my family is Italian, so Sunday dinners are a staple with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of the family members live on the same street and we see each other all the time. 

When the day came, I moved into my residence hall, set up my bedroom and met my roommate. I filled my walls with photos of my friends and family from home. Having decorations with memories posted on them made the space feel like my own, and offered a sense of comfort when I was feeling unsure.

But the reality didn’t set in until my family hugged me goodbye. I was surprised by the overwhelming feeling of sadness I felt. It took over any feeling of excitement for my new chapter in life. 

When my mind was idle, I was on the verge of crying, as I was reminded of the foreign city I now lived in with people I didn’t know. 

As the days passed, I began to explore my new surroundings, and I developed a new routine. I came to realize that my new home wouldn’t be built in a single day. I would have to find new ways to feel at home.  

I found my new study spots and favorite coffee shops, giving me a new sense of normalcy. I won’t pretend to have everything figured out already, but the progress I’ve made has started to make me feel settled in. 

There are benefits to starting over. too. Making new friends in college gave me a great deal of concern, but I have already met great people that I can share these new experiences with. They’ve been there when I had an Insomnia Cookie for the first time — something I don’t have back home. I’ve learned to share things about myself and learn about others over the many meals in dining halls.

But being thrown into a situation where I am expected to be always socialize has been stressful and made me anxious. I had to remember that I am not the type of person who can constantly be social, and realized the importance of checking in on myself. I had to remind myself that sometimes it’s OK to skip an activity. 

Things will keep changing, and I will establish my new normal. I’m looking forward to being challenged by what lies ahead. I will always remind myself that my new home won’t be built in a day.  

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