If you’ve seen this year’s attempt at a fourth season of Arrested Development, you know that in the first episode we see Michael Cera’s character’s father move into his dorm room. Skeptics, take note: This is definitely what the first few hours (or days) of moving in feel like. When you get to your dorm room, the average over-protective parent/guardian will want to set it up for you as if they were decorating your nursery. They’ll actually be more of a roommate at that point than your real roommate. As long as you don’t let them come into the shower with you like the father and son above, the overdose of affection makes for a great feeling.
Relish the over-nurturing, because your family is about to go back home, and this should be the last time your mom makes your bed this year. That’s right: nobody who isn’t wearing a hairnet is going to make you lunch anymore (although the Brown dining staff are a bunch of sweeties). Have your family take you out to a meal on Thayer Street, and then take the traditional Hajj to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy some unnecessary dorm room swag. Then, as your loved ones are putting those finishing touches on your tchotchkes, arguing about the placement of your One Direction stereotypical Pink Floyd poster, you will realize it is time for them to get the f*** out.
On one hand, you’ll feel some version of tears welling up, because this is a scary transition and a big part of you just wants to put all your junk back in the car trunk and go home. On the other hand, everyone is feeling the stress of separation anxiety, and people tend to start more petty arguments and fights when they know someone is about to leave. So another part of you wants to decapitate your family for being so annoying. Which do you do? Hug them and never let go, or beat them up? So much internal conflict! (And they probably feel the same way about you.)
When these contradictory emotions arise, it’s time to kick your family out. No, not to their hotel room down the Hill, but home. Be prepared—breaking the farewell news is always hard, and your parents’ reactions may be weird in response. For example: your mom, who’s a huge sap, doesn’t shed a tear because she wants to be strong for you and doesn’t want you to feel guilty about leaving. Your little sibling had this whole tough-kid act going, and without warning, the kid breaks down sobbing at the curtain call, begging you not to leave.
Case in point: things could go any which way, so be ready to roll with the punches. As a modest suggestion: it’s usually easier when they don’t cry. You should cry if you want to, though, because it’s the last time for a long time that your family will be there to physically wipe away your tears (sad, but true). When the moment is right, ask them to text you when they arrive home safely, show them out of your dorm, and then let to adjustment period/coping process commence.
There are two essential elements to this process, and for maximum efficiency they must be done hand-in-hand.
Part One: go out and start socializing. Make lifelong friends or don’t–it doesn’t matter–but at least try. Trying to feel like a college student will make you feel better.
Part Two: Skype your family. It’s really just like being at home. Maybe don’t do it the first few days to give yourself some space, but after that try to make it a regular thing. It will give you a sense of normalcy, but it may increase a little bit of homesickness. If you live it up while keeping in touch with homebase, you can limit your homesickness while building your new and exciting life here at Brown!