So you live too far away to go home to your family every weekend and you don’t know what to do…
All of us downstate kids go through this. Throughout your time at IMSA, you’ll become accustomed to life in suburban Aurora; you’ll learn more about the local schools, the population, the politics, and the people, but one thing that won’t change is the fact that you’re stuck there. Here are the top 3 things you can do to make your time at IMSA as positive as possible.
1.) Make weekends productive.
I hate to break it to you, but after the few weeks where all sophomores are required to stay on campus, weekends are going to become quiet. When your friends start going home, you might feel a bit lonely and discouraged, but quiet weekends breed sanity and productivity. Imagine the time you would lose during a car ride to your home and back – time you could be using to chug through that daunting problem set instead! On-campus weekends are the perfect time to find some peace and quiet, meet up with some other downstate study buddies, hog the study room, and really catch up on homework. There’s nothing worse than racing to finish all of your homework on Sunday night because you spent Friday and Saturday doing nothing!
2.) Make weekends fun!
Don’t be fooled by the quaintness of the IMSA campus on weekends, especially during colder months. There are plenty of people who choose to stay weekends! Befriend those fellow weekend warriors because pretty soon, you’ll be looking forward to hanging out with them for hours at the end of the week. Take advantage of sleepover options and 11:30 in hall on Friday and Saturday, and go on trips to Oberweis, Portillo’s, Fox Valley Mall, and other great places! And if none of these appeal to you, you can always take a walking trip to Orchard. No worries if you don’t get on a trip; some of the best memories are made on campus, in the halls or hanging out at the 02/05 slabs.
3.) Tackle homesickness.
It’s bound to happen to you eventually, even if you feel fine for a few weeks. Whether it takes a really stressful week to burn you out or a painful reminder of your family, homesickness frequently troubles IMSA students and it’s something you can get help with. The most obvious thing you can do is go home, so try to find a carpool as soon as possible. Students who live in your town (or nearby) are often open to a carpool system. Video calling your family can also give you the interaction you crave without them needing to be there. Talking to your RC may help settle your mind, and if they’re okay with it, often RCs will allow you to hang out in their apartment with them for a while where you can cook, watch a movie, or just talk. Sometimes, they’ll even be free for a quick Chipotle or Starbucks run with you! IMSA counselors can also assist with your struggles so when you feel down. You always have the option to talk to Kevin or Karen. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly…talk to your upperclassmen! We’re here to support you, and plenty of us stay weekends. We were also sophomores once, trying to find our way around. If you find one upperclassman weekend dweller (which shouldn’t be too difficult), you’ll begin to find more through them.
In short, being from downstate can have its perks! If you make the most of your time at IMSA and learn to feel okay away from home, you might begin to enjoy your IMSA experience despite the distance.