Hello Future Northwestern-ers!
So now that you’re far from home, and might even have friends scattered around the world, it is very easy to get completely caught up in your new life and forget to talk to friends and family from back home. Or you might even miss them so much that you never stop talking to them. Both aren’t good alternatives, and one of the top tips from current IPAs about their first years has been to find the balanced amount of contact with those back home. So as yet another of your handy IPAs, I’m here to offer tips on finding that balance.
- Don’t forget about home during fall quarter: At the start of the year, there’s always a lot going on. There’s many new people to meet and activities to get involved in, so it’s very easy to forget about talking to people back home. Still, don’t do it! Find whatever time you can to talk to friends and family back home or in college elsewhere - they’ll appreciate it and you’ll ensure you don’t lose a support network you’ll no doubt need at some point in the year.
- Don’t talk to people too much either: I know you might have known your friends for the longest time and it’s comforting and familiar to talk to them, especially while adjusting to college, but try not to give up time you could use in settling into Northwestern! Don’t lose out on time that you could be getting involved in Northwestern or getting to know people in your dorm because you’re too busy stuck in your room trying to talk to your childhood friend/ girlfriend/ boyfriend.
- The balance: There’s no magic number in terms of time that’s the perfect amount to talk to friends and family who aren’t in college with you. You have to figure out how much you (and your friends and family) are happy with. If you always feel like you’re missing out on activities and don’t know your neighbors in your dorm, it’s too much. If you can remember the last time you spoke to that person you used to hang out with all the time, it’s too little.
- Make use of technology: There are so many different types of programs and means that you can use nowadays to be able to see all the faces you miss and hear about the people. Don’t just stick to standard email - send pictures and videos to let people know how you are! Use Skype, Facebook video chat, GChat, iChat, Oovoo, or even a blog - make sure you take advantage of the various means to be able to keep in touch with people without spending too much or too little time on doing so.
- Remember time zone differences: Don’t wake up your parents just because you want to tell them about this amazing new thing you did. Different time zones can make keeping in touch tricky, but it’s possible to find common times - it may just require some advance planning. Try not to miss out on classes to do so!
- Don’t worry your parents: There are lots of passing problems in college, and they might seem extreme at the time, but try not to worry your parents too much with all these things. Being far from you, they will naturally assume things to be much worse then they are and probably worry about them long after you stop doing so. This doesn’t mean that if something major is wrong, you don’t tell them - don’t underestimate the amount they can do to help you - but it just means that if you didn’t get the classes you want, don’t complain to them like it’s the end of the world. There’s always friends to talk about these kind of things with.
Don’t worry, most of you will probably be telling all your family and friends about how much you’re enjoying college and will manage to talk to them the right amount.
One of your many IPAs,
Meghana Puri (Mumbai, India and Singapore and Zürich, Switzerland)
Feel free to email me at email@example.com