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Graphic by: Len Duenas

It took me three years, but I did not cry when my parents drove away after moving me in this semester.

Being on my own and living alone is harder than I thought it would be, but it does get easier.

For the first time in my life, my parents left me alone in my dorm room in August 2021. Like a baby deer, I was fresh on my feet and afraid to be on my own. I sobbed like a baby my first two years at college, despite knowing I would be going home in merely 14 days for Labor Day weekend.

I knew it was coming but seeing my parents drive away was painful. Sobbing into my dad’s chest, I just wanted to stay in my mom’s arms forever. This will be something I never forget.

I had been crying since I started packing earlier that week and did not stop for days after school started. It took a little time but eventually, I got into the rhythm of school and being away from home stung a little less every day.

Houston is a big city. UH is a big school. So many people, so many new experiences and I was just another doe-eyed freshman. The only person I knew on campus was a friend — now my best friend — whom I met through Instagram.

That friendship, as well as focusing on school, throwing myself head-first into coursework and looking for internships helped me during my freshman year.

I recommend you decorate your room to your liking and hang the pictures of your friends and family on the walls. Find your place on campus and carve it out to be your own little home away from home. The library is my personal haven.

Every time I go home, I keep thinking about how I don’t have a lot of time left. In less than two years I will graduate and then going home on the weekends or spending the winter and summer breaks at my family’s house would just become memories.

Take it all in. Every time you go home, spend time with your family. Just sit with them, eat dinner or watch a movie. Take every opportunity to be there for any and all milestone moments you can.

Take pictures and hold on to those memories when you feel homesick. Call your parents and text your siblings. If you’re lucky enough to spend time with grandparents, ask them to tell you stories from your parent’s childhood.

Tell them you love them. Hug them tight every time you leave. And just breathe in and out. 

When you’re away from home, spend time with your friends and explore the city. Houston has so much to offer, the more I got to know the city, the less scary it became.

But mostly, feel your emotions. When you’re feeling homesick and just want to cry, do that. When all you want to do is lie in your bed and talk to your mom, do that. Bottling up your emotions would just make you crankier and will do absolutely nothing to help your homesickness. A mental breakdown can do wonders sometimes.

Take time out for yourself. College is a big change and adding on the fact you’re barely eighteen and living alone is scary (who thought this would be a good idea?). Take the time to figure things out, take it step by step.

On day one you will be nervous, but day-by-day living alone won’t be as scary anymore. You just need to breathe. To quote Taylor Swift, “Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out.” 

And you will be fine.

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