Dear Papa Bear,
Ever since I started school, I always focused on the work more then anything. I always wanted to make my parents proud for all that they ever gave me. I didn’t even have that many good friends until high school, when I finally met a group. I was happy, but for college I decided to follow a full ride scholarship to a university states away. I thought it would be an easy adaptation and I would get many friends and good experiences here. But even without COVID-19, things have been rough.
With my experience here so far, I’ve struggled to make any friends in anything I thought I’d be remotely interested in, with me even joining a furry club. I haven’t felt a connection even close to the one I had with my friends back home, and at times even feel unwanted. While I can call my friends, I feel much more alienated to them the before, especially with me being the only one to go out of state for college. This feeling is starting to affect my drive for my grades, which is possibly a disaster, since I need to maintain a 3.5 to even keep my scholarship. Do you have any advice for not feeling so lonely when you’re having a really difficult time making connections?
Drew (age 20; live in Lincoln, NE for school; San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA for family)
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Different states, cities, countries have different cultures. One might think there would not be a big difference, culturally between Texas and Nebraska, but it kinda depends on the part of Texas. Now, you are from San Antonio, which is a pretty happening city. You also mention Atlanta, Georgia, which is very different as well. Nebraska is very rural, for the most part. Now, if you were from the Texas panhandle, for example, you might have a closer cultural tie to Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska, is very much a "college town," which also has a different feel from, say, a big city like Atlanta.
So, a guess I have is that there is a bit of a cultural difference going on here that might be interfering a bit with your efforts to make friends. Also, just in general, it can be a challenge to make new friends in a new town compared to a place in which you grew up. One suggestion would be to see if you could find some fellow students who are from San Antonio or Georgia. Might be a bit easier to connect.
While having a healthy social life is important, the main reason you are in Lincoln is for school--and congrats on your scholarship, by the way. I'm also guessing that, once you complete your degree, you're not going to stay in Lincoln. I could be wrong, of course. But even if you do stay where you are now, your peers will change once you get a job. You will be switching from college buddies to coworkers, and by then (4 or more years from now) you may have adjusted more to being a Nebraskan.
Big adjustments such as the one you're making take time to acclimate to. I remember my first year of college being rather lonely, but it got better in my sophomore year. Now, you're 20, so have you been in college a couple years? Or did you get a late start? If the former, you can tough it out for another year or two and then you will likely move when you find a job; if the latter, give yourself some time. Such big changes take a while to settle into.
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