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Adjusting to College Abroad: One Teen Making It On Her Own

Moving To A Foreign Country And Adjusting to College

I’ve made it through my first month in St. Andrews. And despite the anxiety and homesickness that came with moving to a foreign country, I’m so happy I decided to do it.

In the past four weeks, I’ve been to Edinburgh and Dundee, exercised my legal right to drink, conquered my laundry pile, hosted a Cleveland visitor, read Great Expectations, and found the perfect coffee shop. I’ve made friends from Glasgow, Ontario, Italy, England, California, Luxembourg, and Germany.

A few things in particular have made adjusting to college life easier:

1. Great Roommates.

I was lucky enough to be assigned to a flat full of very nice, friendly girls. We get along and live together well, and we like to hang out together too. Coming from an all-girls school makes me appreciate having a close-knit group of girls from the start.

2. Interesting Classes.

My classes are interesting and dynamic. For the first time, I am able to study strictly what I’m interested in, and I’m lucky that my choices have proved to be compelling.

3.  Watching Downton Abby First.

Downton Abbey started in September here, so that’s a bonus.

4.  Getting Care Packages from Home.

My mom sent me a care package full of my favorite snacks, columns from my favorite magazines, and a mini-American flag to remind me of home. She also sent my absentee ballot, so I can participate in my first election as an eligible voter.

5. Enjoying Alone Time.

I actually like to spend time alone. I’m still meeting people and figuring out my routine. It’s nice to walk back to my dorm alone or study in the student union by myself. I need some alone time to decompress without having to make conversation or straining to decipher an accent.

6. Weekend Travel Around Europe.

I have plans! A weekend in Dublin, a tentative concert in the next town over, an American Thanksgiving dinner with my non-American flatmates – all of which I’m so excited about.

Another reason why I am adjusting to college and feel a little more rooted here is because I have a month’s worth of experiences connecting me to my new home. The house above the popular flat place in town was the site of my first flat party; the empty bottle in my room is a reminder of my first (and only and hopefully last) night going overboard drinking; my English tutor’s office is where I had to practically jog the mile and a half stretch between my dorm and town after I overslept one morning.

I’ve been surprised by how quickly life as a college student became my life. I have notes to take and friends to meet and groceries to buy. And even if everything is still a little foreign, I can see myself living here (and loving it) instead of just waiting to go home at Christmas.

Emma Freer attended Ruffing Montessori and Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma gave the senior speech at her high school graduation.

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