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Last summer, while most of my friends packed up for their drive to nearby colleges, I began frantically preparing for my transcontinental journey to school in Los Angeles. Coming from Upstate New York, most of my friends were attending schools in the northeast. I, however, would be attending the University of Southern California, a school almost 3000 miles away. The thought of packing my life away into a few bags and moving across the country was frightening, to say the least. However, the move ended up being easier than expected.

For those of you moving far away for college, here are some helpful tips for the process:

Packing

Unlike those driving to school, you do not have the luxury of space. Rather, you are constrained by the luggage allowances on planes and the number of things you can carry. When I flew to school this summer, I had two checked bags, one carry on, and a backpack. While trying to pack my life away into several pieces of luggage seemed like a daunting task, it ended up being relatively painless. Also, because I was going to school in SoCal, I was able to ditch my winter clothes, which gave me room for other necessary items.

How did I do it? Well, writing a list of all the items I wanted to bring helped me get myself organized and ensure that I didn’t forget anything. I also made sure to only pack things I couldn’t get once I was at school. For example, instead of trying to schlep bedding and a mattress across the country, I purchased my linens through the school itself. When I arrived for move-in day, all I had to do was pick up the box with these items from the residence hall. My roommate and I opted to rent a TV from the school as well. Some retailers, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, offer dorm specials which allow you to walk into one of their stores and pick out everything for your dorm and then pick up the items at a Bed Bath near your school.

Flights

They ain’t cheap. That’s why I opted to stay at school over Thanksgiving Break, rather than spend $1000+ to come back to New York for a few days. One of the hardest aspects of going to school so far away is being unable to go home very often. It’s possible you may only get to go home during winter break and potentially spring break. To save money on flights, I recommend using a tool such as Kayak, which can send you notifications about cheap tickets. 

Keeping in Touch With Friends

Not only does sheer physical distance make keeping in touch hard, but differences in time zones add extra complications. For example, as someone who is the most social in the late evening, it is hard to talk to my friends on the east coast then because they may already be asleep. Of course, this isn’t a make or break situation. What I recommend doing is setting times to talk, text, skype, etc your friends back home. Sending physical letters is also a nice touch — there’s nothing more fun than getting a surprise letter from a friend!

Family

Of course, keeping in touch with family is extremely important as well. At first, parents will probably want you to call almost every day to let them know what you’re eating, how your classes are going, how you’re getting along with your roommate (the list goes on). Eventually, you will settle into a rhythm with your parents where you call them a certain number of times a week. I call my parents two or three times week, though of course it’s different for every family. Like with friends, sending letters back and forth with family members is a fun way to keep in touch. Skype and FaceTime are also useful tools. Disclaimer: some parents may not be the most experienced with these technologies, so be patient with them! It may seem like a pain to talk to your parents so often, but just remember that they’re the reason you’re even at that college.

Enjoy the Experience

The logistics behind your transcontinental move can be stress-inducing. But don’t forget to enjoy the experience! Even after a semester in college, I’m still amazed by the fact that I am living in Los Angeles. While being far away can be hard, I certainly don’t mind the beautiful SoCal weather and the extremely diverse student body my school offers.



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