Monday, August 16, 2010

Settling in at Purdue! My Tips for Embracing Changes in Your Life

Sorry I've been a bit MIA on this blog the past week. I moved cross-country from my beachside California hometown of Ventura to Lafayette, Indiana -- my new home for the next three years while I pursue my M.F.A. in Fiction Writing at Purdue.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in an old Victorian house on a beautiful tree-lined street about ten minutes from campus. (There's even a trolley I can catch a few blocks away that runs to campus and back -- how cute is that? A trolley!) I had a fun time decorating my new place with my mom, who helped me move out here and get settled. The weather has been much warmer and more humid than I was used to in Ventura, but I am adjusting. I love the lightning bugs, sweet tea, and Midwestern tomatoes. And everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. Today was my first day of Orientation for my new program -- in addition to taking fiction-writing classes, I'll also be teaching freshman composition to Purdue undergraduates starting (gulp!) next week. I'm a bit nervous, but I've always loved teaching and I'm excited for the new challenge of teaching college students.

Despite all the excitement, a big move is full of changes, and change can be stressful! I also miss my family and friends from home a lot. Here are some tips that have helped me keep smiling and embracing the changes:

1. If you feel sad or homesick, recognize that these feelings are expected and perfectly normal. Everyone feels this way sometimes. That said, try not to wallow in sadness. Instead, do something to brighten your spirits -- bake some brownies, buy some flowers for your room, put on your favorite CD.

2. Call your friends, family and loved ones -- even for just a few minutes, even just to say hi. Hearing a familiar voice can be a huge comfort. Also, remind yourself how many people care about you and are supporting you in your new adventure.

3. Reach out to new people. Invite your neighbor over for dinner. Ask a classmate if she'd like to grab coffee after class. Smile at a stranger you pass on the street. Potential friends are everywhere!

4. Get involved. Join a club. Take a class. Find out about events -- a poetry reading, a street festival, a concert -- and go!

5. It's okay to miss things from home, but focus on being present in your new surroundings. What do you like about your new place? What is there to explore around you? Get to know your neighborhood and your community. Instead of dwelling on what you miss from home, try to focus on being present in the moment and making new memories. Someday, you are going to look back on your life now and miss it!

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