Looking back on the first semester at Carolina,  August 23, 2017 seems like a lifetime away. On that day approximately 5,000 new freshmen and transfer students moved away from their homes or across the world to live and learn at UNC. Throughout this transition from  childhood to adulthood, we face many challenges that provide us wisdom and push us to look at the positive aspects of change.

Here is a glance into the lives of three freshmen college students and their experience with moving away.
 

ARIANA

“One month later and it’s still hard. I overthink a lot and I get really bad anxiety, my gears are always turning, and it gets worse with change. I’m very close with my family and kept looking forward to the next day that I would get to see my family instead of living in the moment.

When my dad came to visit me and hugged me, I was holding back my tears. But the moment he kissed me on the cheek, I just started sobbing. My twin brother Ardeshir, we’re best friends. We’ve been through everything together. My parents got divorced when we were 7 and we would go to both houses together. Without him, I felt lost. But we still talk everyday and I learned that I can be independent and that I don’t need him all the time. My mom is my other half. She’s been out of the country for twenty-five days in Uganda and Zambia. She visited me one day and brought groceries to put in my fridge. I glanced over and saw her sitting on my bed. She just looked so natural there. My room felt so much more homey with her there.

It’s a good thing though. I never wanted to have two separate lives, I’ve always wanted for my family to be a part of my college experience and for my college friends to be close to my family.

I used to feel like my homesickness was higher than others and that I was weaker for that.

I know I’m not weak anymore and it’s so exciting to be able to have this freedom. I’ve always been such an indecisive person, but being here at UNC has really pushed me to make decisions and stick to them.”

COURTNEY

“I’m from Austin, TX. It’s a nineteen hour drive to Carolina. When my mom was driving us up here I fell asleep and then woke up to see my mom crying. I was confused because she’s supposed to be the strong one you know.

‘I know you won’t come home anymore. I just miss the little things.’ she said.

I used to sit in the same spot at the dinner table and now that chair is empty. I don’t get to go home every weekend like most people. I get homesick thinking my family is having dinner without me.

But, I don’t have a lot for me in Austin anymore. I love Carolina with my whole heart. You will never see me leaving a game before the alma mater. From the first to the last, I’m there. And since I’ve moved so many times, I love it. There’s too much of the world to see to stay in one place. It’s a clean slate and you get to decide who you want to be. Now I approach things with blind faith that the future has something good in store for me, something great around the corner. Moving to college--it’s like loving a heartbreak.”

ANUSH

"Before college, I never had to plan out my life long term; when I’d visit my family, supplies I need for the year, clothes I have. I miss the comfort of home, the privacy. I feel like I’m always in a strange place, not a hundred percent comfortable yet. Leaving my hometown in Connecticut, it felt like an actual goodbye instead of a see you later.

The week of studying for midterms, I’d stay up till five am and always remember that if I was at home, my mom would make me go to bed before midnight because she wanted me to have enough sleep.  

Nonetheless, within this month I’ve learned to face my fears more than ever before. My friends are closer to me because they know my daily routine. There’s more diversity here too compared to where I used to live. I’d say my favorite memory so far was a house party during the first week of school. There, I met one of my closest friends. Having her around--our friendship--is one of my positives to being here at UNC. I’m also in a chem study group with my close friends Jay, Shalini, and Rhea. We stay in Davis Library till it closes and it’s just our thing. It feels like community with them. "