Exploring Your College Town

College isn't just about classes, parties and cafeteria food - for many freshman, college is also their first time living away from home. Lauren Wiley, a freshman at Loyola University Chicago, shares her tips on how she manages adjusting to life on her own in a big city:

As seniors in high school, students are often asked why they are attending the college of their choice. I remember many of my classmates saying they chose their future college because of the desirable city surroundings.

From San Francisco to Boston, my classmates went off to not only receive a higher education academically, but to receive a higher education on the world around them.

Many colleges are embracing their location, and immersing their students into it. I am a freshman in Chicago, and have been able to explore the exciting city around me thanks to the school’s efforts. During the first week, there were many different events and service opportunities sponsored by the school. The events were free and the service opportunities were a great way to help the community in which we now live.

Another Chicago school, DePaul University, requires their freshmen to take a course first semester that challenges their students to discover the city. There are many different courses to take, the gangsters of Chicago, the bakeries of Chicago, the Mexican neighborhoods of Chicago, to name a few.

I have heard nothing but good things from these students at DePaul who are thrown into a discovery curriculum. The free events and service opportunities at Loyola really helped settle in and get comfortable with the new location. For those seniors looking at schools in larger cities, do not be afraid of them. Most schools will make an effort to help ease that transition, and help you love your new home!

Top Tips on Navigating Your New Life Away from Home:

Public Transportation:

  • Most colleges and universities offer students unlimited passes for public transportation (often called a U-Pass) for a small fee (which might be included in your university tuition and fees).
  • For Loyola University Chicago students, for example, these passes allow them to ride the El ( Chicago’s elevated subway system) and the city buses.
  • You might find out about these types of passes during your school orientation sessions or ask your student life department about transportation pass options.

Events Near Campus:

  • You can find things to do off-campus if you look around at the bulletin boards and kiosks: there are many posters up around campus and in the community, promoting events.
  • In your dorm, Resident Assistants (RAs) might also put up large posters telling the dorm what they should go explore that month.

Service Opportunities:

  • Many schools have their own club whose sole purpose is service for the community. These opportunities include everything from tutoring to working in a soup kitchen.
  • Usually these groups meet once a week for a few hours at a time but if you do join a club like this, commitment is really important because the service sites grow to depend on their volunteers. It’s a great way to get to know people and the city around you!

So with all these new experiences and things to do, how do you get comfortable and adjust to a new city?

  • EXPLORE. Bring along some of your newly made friends to find what is around campus to keep you sane after hours of studying.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are lost, do not hesitate to ask a local where you are going.

Lauren is also a guest blogger here at WhatHappensNow.com. You can read more from Lauren at our College section of the blog!!