How to Make Home Home

by Tolu Taiwo

Home is wherever I feel the least nostalgic for Chicago-style hot dogs (a.k.a. a couple of different ways to feel like a member of your new community)

Recently, one of my friends and I were talking about my transition here at Colorado State University. She asked me about my classes and my students (which is basically my whole life right now), and then she asked the big question: “does it feel like home yet?”

I’ll admit it: this place is wonderful. I’m finally figuring out my niche, understanding what it means to not only be a SAHE grad student or a member of Residence Life, but what it means to be a member of the Fort Collins community. But it’s not home yet. Home is in Illinois. I still miss my undergraduate institution, sometimes I have this weird urge to go visit the Sears Tower, and—I’m not going to lie—I jumped for joy when I bought my Fall Break airplane ticket home.

You can’t force yourself to feel at home in a new space (obviously, or I would have forced my homesickness away three months ago). But I’m starting to realize that there are some ways to feel more comfortable as a graduate in a new town.

3. If you love people, find your crowd. You have your cohort and/or coworkers to lean on, of course, but there other ways to meet different people. A couple of people I know have joined the graduate student organization, some have found a community in churches or group volunteer projects, and some people join intramural sports clubs. And if you fly better solo, don’t be afraid to go out and volunteer by yourself, or engage in one-person hobbies that make you feel more at ease in your new environment.

2. Always be on the lookout for your favorite ___________. If you’re a foodie, look for that one restaurant that makes you happy. If you love to read, find out which local library floats your boat. You’ll need a place to get work done, and sometimes it helps to develop loyalty to that one coffee shop. For me, I’ll know I’ll be calling Fort Collins home when I find a hair salon that can fix me up right and my ultimate go-to Chinese takeout place. I’ve already found my brunch spot, so I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

1. Ride out the wave. Maybe in about two weeks, my friend will ask me that same question, and I’ll be able to confidently say yes, Fort Collins and CSU fully feels like home. Maybe in about four months, I’ll still be sobbing for Chicago-style hot dogs and my favorite hide-out spot in the Illini Union. Whatever happens, it’s all going to be okay. As we’ve learned from William Bridge’s transition model, I just need to be honest with myself and my development. It’s okay to still have some ties to my old city, and I know that one day, I’ll feel homesick for CSU. I just need to be patient with myself.

For graduate students and new professionals that just moved: what are some ways that you’ve made yourself at home?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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