What to do after your parents leave on move-in day

I think the reality of living away from home really sinks in when your parents leave for home on move in day.

I remember mine: we had just enjoyed a nice dinner at Chili’s, and it was just starting to get dark. I gave my mom a second hug, shook my dad’s hand, and they got in the car and drove off. I walked back up the stairs to my dorm, and as I looked at the buildings on either side, I realized it: I’m on my own. This was both a cool and unnerving thought.

Once your parents leave, you’re going to be on your own too. You might feel lonely, homesick, and nervous. How you choose to spend your first night is up to you, and you should do what you feel most comfortable doing, but here are some things I recommend:

Get to know your roommate a little bit.

If you’re meeting your roommate (or roommates!) for the first time today, hang out a little bit and get to know him or her a bit better. Everyone acts slightly different around their parents, so even if you’ve talked a little already, hang out some more. Try to be friendly — it’ll probably be a little bit awkward at first, but it does get easier.

If conversation isn’t coming too well, you guys can start to discuss how you want to arrange the room — do you want to bunk the beds? Do you like how the furniture is now? Where are you going to place the TV? As you guys work things out, it’ll help break the ice.

Meet some people on your floor.

Once you’ve talked to your roommate a bit, walk around your floor together. Introduce yourselves to people that you see and ask if they want to hang out. This is a great way to start making friends early on, and if you go with your roommate it will feel a bit less awkward.

Everyone will be caught in different stages of unpacking and settling in — some will still be with their parents. Don’t be too offended if people don’t feel like hanging out or being too social at first.

Unpack a little bit.

Your dorm room will start to feel more like home once you’ve unpacked some stuff out of paper sacks.

There’s no need to unpack everything right away, and you’ll undoubtedly be rearranging stuff a lot over the next couple of days, but go ahead and hang up some clothes and fill up your dresser drawers. Put a poster or two on the wall or set up your desk a little bit. This is a great way to fight off any immediate homesickness.

Take a look at what’s coming up in the next week.

Your first week at college is usually spent introducing you to your school. There will be a lot of little meetings and events that you’ll be going to before class starts. Your school will probably give you an agenda of these events — take a quick look through it so you can get an idea what to expect.