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Your First Year

Tips on making through your first year

Beat Homesickness

Don't feel like you have to cut yourself off from family and friends to be independent or grown-up. Stay in touch with those you love; call, e-mail or visit but not to the exclusion of campus activities. Develop a comfort zone by bringing things from home that are familiar or important to you like pictures, pillows, blankets, or a favorite object. Share your feelings with others: talking about them can normalize these feelings. Engage in pleasurable activities or treat yourself to something enjoyable at least once a day, such as a favorite magazine, and respect the fact that transitions are hard.

Everything In Moderation

Respect your body's need for food, rest and a normal routine. Greasy, sugary foods can trigger negative emotions and make you feel even more anxious or tired. Limit caffeine, whose effects can actually mimic panic attacks and anxiety, causing heart palpitations, dizziness or breathlessness. Sleep deprivation can cause feelings of fatigue, lethargy and difficulty concentrating, which can worsen the experience of feeling depressed.

Get Physical

Exercise is a great way to manage symptoms of anxiety or sadness. Aerobic activity naturally changes body chemistry making it more difficult for the body to feel stress and feeling better physically can help you stay calm and rational. Exercising offers a chance to socialize and meet new people. Swim, bike, run, walk, play tennis or whatever you enjoy. Take a class. Most campuses offer classes in yoga, aerobics and strength training. Use the gym. Most campus pools and gym facilities are open for student use during special times.

Get Organized, Be Realistic

It's easy to get overwhelmed, so try to keep things in perspective. Break down issues or concerns into manageable segments. Prioritize activities and allot a specific time for each one, whether it is studying, socializing or extracurricular activities. Keep a "to do" list of what you need to accomplish. Stay flexible. Time demands often change during the semester. Set smaller, more realistic goals.

Plan Ahead

Reduce uncertainties before school starts. Visit the campus to become familiar with the surroundings and local community. Speak to roommates before school starts to work out basic plans and details. Write down your concerns. This forces you to be specific about the issues and provides an opportunity to focus on ways to deal with them. Talk to upperclassmen about their experiences and successful survival techniques.