8 tips to surviving your first year as a transfer student


MTSU
Students traversing campus in front of the Student Union Building on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (MTSU Sidelines / David Taylor)

Photo by David Taylor // Staff Photographer

Speaking from experience, transferring to a new school can be one of the most difficult transitions a student can make. I myself had to switch schools twice: once after my freshman year of high school, and the other this past fall when I transferred from Pellissippi State Community College to MTSU. In both cases I had to adapt to new environments, schedules and people in general.

If you’re an introvert like myself, meeting and mingling with new people can be intimidating and exhausting. And even if you enjoy interacting with strangers, being thrust into unfamiliar situations can be terrifying.

But new places and experiences aren’t the end of the world. The following is a simple, but not exclusive, list of ways you as a transfer student can make the most out of your time at your new school/home.

1. Walk around your new campus BEFORE classes start!

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To quote my favorite professor, Albus Dumbledore, “Not all those who wander are lost.” So please, feel free to wander! Walking around campus is the easiest way to find your way around campus. There are few things in life worse than the realization that you have no idea where you’re going five minutes before your 8 a.m. class starts.

2. Find your classes.

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I’m serious about this one. Don’t just find the building. Go inside and get the exact location of your classroom. Some buildings like Peck Hall and Jones Hall have confusing hallways with room numbers that don’t make sense. You may think room 350 would naturally fall beside room 349, but instead you find it on the other side of the building.

3. Women, ask for directions. Men, look at a map. Seriously.

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This statement may sound sexist, but there’s strong evidence to support it. I abhor asking for directions because I’m shy, but I had to get over that really quickly being a transfer student. Asking for directions is essential, especially if you ignored the first two suggestions on the list. If one day you’re feeling particularly anti-social (I know how you feel), MTSU has a handy dandy app that includes a map and a list of the buildings with their abbreviations! I still use this to find my way around.

4. Join a club!

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This one may sound cliché, but that’s because it works. Joining a club is one of the best ways to meet to people who share a common interest with you. It’s also a great way to stay active in both the MTSU and Murfreesboro communities. Did I mention that clubs also look great on resumes? Potential employers love to see applicants who have lives outside of the classroom because it opens the door to who you are as a person.

5. Become friends with your roommates.

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I get it. Some people are difficult to get along with, while others are hermits who refuse to socialize or even acknowledge your presence. But for the foreseeable future, or at least until the end of the semester, you’re stuck with that person. It’s just like family! Most people, however, are great, and odds are you’ll become best friends! Whether you like it or not, your roommates will make up a significant portion of your memories from college. Make those memories happy ones.

6. Find “your place.”

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This can be a local coffee shop, a certain spot in the library, or even your room. Having a place to go study, do homework, or relax can be a lifesaver when life itself gets in the way. It’ll become your safe haven in a world full of chaos

7. Go home.

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Or, if location is an obstacle, talk/call/video message/smoke signal the people you love and care about the most. They are your rock in the tumultuous sea of life. They have, and will always be, a source of comfort and strength. Sometimes living in a new place is too overwhelming and you just need some familiarity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve hopped in my car and driven the 150 miles to Knoxville on a weekend in order to “get away.” I always come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

8. Do something you enjoy AT LEAST once a week!

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As long as whatever you’re doing makes you happy (and it’s safe and legal), it will make the transition much easier and less stressful. You need time to focus on what makes you happy as a person. You won’t get anywhere in life by suffering through the things you have to do. By doing something fun you release all of that pent-up, negative energy that can so easily bring you down. And yes, you DO have the time in the midst of those papers, tests, and infinite number of quizzes to sit down for a few minutes and breath. Don’t make yourself, and others by extension, miserable.

Just like finals, some of these tips will be easy-going and logical, while others will be things that take practice, devotion and time to study in order to succeed. You may be surprised by how natural the transition is.

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To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com

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