Times are Changing

Times are Changing

College, while it may be fun, is a challenging part of our lives. There is so much personal, social, spiritual, physical, and emotional change that students undergo. It is so tempting to clutch to the bit of stability we hold onto from our high-school lives, which is great, but there is a point where you have to know where and when to let go and allow yourself to grow.

You have the ‘nutrients’ and ‘soil’ you need from home, which allowed you to start growing, now that you are in a new ‘pot’ you can more fully grow into who you are as a person. 

Let’s begin with a few common problems freshman students face, and some advice as to how to overcome them. These problems are attributed to mycollegeguide.org.


Problem #1 Homesickness/Loneliness

This is a problem that gradually arises for many college freshmen especially after the shiny “newness” of the school begins to fade. Everything around you is different and that can make you long for the familiarity, comfort, and closeness of your home family and friends.

  • A good way to deal with this problem is to try and establish a routine for yourself. This includes eating breakfast most days, working out (which will help against the dreaded freshman 15), and going to bed at a reasonable time most days.
  • Don’t be afraid to call your family. I am a senior in college, and I still talk to my mom and dad every single day. You would be surprised how much stronger your relationship with your parents gets with regular, real communication. They are your strongest supporters!
  • I recommend bringing a piece of home with you, like pictures of your family and friends. Reach out to your home friends too, they are probably also experiencing similar feelings about being in a new place and a conversation can really help dissolve some of those negative feelings.
  • You can always pray! Jesus, His Mother, and His Saints all felt times of loneliness during their times on earth. Ask your patron saint for a bit of help. Having an icon of them and praying to them can feel like a spiritual ‘hug’ that can really help in times of need. St. Anthony went out into the desert alone, and he must have felt lonely sometimes!

Problem #2 Poor Time Management & Organizational Skills

Poor time management is a skill that will never go away. Time is one of the most valuable resources that we as students have and it is all too often in short supply. For all you type ‘A’ OCFers out there, organizing things can be cathartic in and of itself–use that energy to your advantage!

  • I reiterate the importance of establishing a routine. It really helps you maximize your time if you know how you are spending it, and using it effectively. It forces you to know your schedule and know when you have to get work done.
  • Keep a journal or assignment notebook. So many classes nowadays have numerous online components with seemingly random due dates and times. YOU NEED TO WRITE THOSE DOWN! Keeping a written record will keep you accountable and will help ensure that you meet those deadlines, plus that feeling of checking off a task that you have finished is so relieving.
  • Put the phone away. You know what I mean when I say this. Homework and phones don’t mix in a very productive way.
  • Set priorities. Part of the reason we may feel that we don’t have time for things is actually due to our priorities. If we prioritize our social lives more than our academic lives, our grades can suffer. Remember that you are going to university to learn, and that should be your priority.

Feeling homesick is natural. Organization is a skill that people are constantly working on. You have time to solve these problems, so use them as an opportunity to grow. All freshmen are going through similar situations use that situation as a means to bond with others, you’re not on this journey alone!

Blog Contributor Saturday | Kiara Stewart

Hi friends! My name is Kiara Stewart, and I’m the third member of the Saturday Blog Contributor Team! This is my senior year (I’m not sure how or when this happened, but here we are) at Alfred University in Alfred, New York as an art major. When I’m not covered in clay, you can usually find me wandering in the woods, writing poetry, or knitting (sometimes all three), and I ADORE all things fuzzy.

Anyway, my quirky self aside, my introduction to OCF came the first Sunday of my freshman year at coffee hour. Another college student invited me to a meeting and I said, “Sure! . . . What’s OCF?” Obviously, I was pretty clueless, but over the years, OCF became quite the city on a hill for me. There is no OCF at my university, and to be frank, it’s pretty secular. That said, the church I attend (joy of joys!) is home to an OCF that’s a mash-up of students from about seven different schools. Without that OCF (and soul-shaking things like College Conference), I’m honestly not quite sure how I would have made it this far.

So fast forward to this year, and I hear that Ben is looking for regular guest contributors on the OCF blog. (I may or may not have scared the ever-living daylights out of my roommate when I leapt out of bed yelling, “I GOTTA TEXT BEN ABOUT THIS CONTRIBUTOR THINGY.” Oops.) I knew immediately that if there was room, I wanted to be a contributor. Not because I have any kind of special wisdom or knowledge or spiritual know-how (believe me, not my strong suit) that sets me apart but because like Mark said, I want to be a voice crying in the wilderness.

I love Alfred dearly, and I would never want to go anywhere else, but I have to admit that on the spiritual front, it’s been a rather lonely three-and-a-half years. No OCF, the nearest church is an hour and a half away, no other practicing students (or at least, none that my searching and scouring has turned up). Without OCF, my other Orthodox friends, and my AV family, I really don’t know how I would have weathered my time here. It’s far too possible that I would have fallen away from the faith.

One of my favorite songs is by an artist called Citizen Cope (painfully hipster, I know, I know), and there’s a line that says, “Until the spirit and the mind ain’t fighting/Until the scenes of tomorrow and today finally play/I will carry you through the hurricane waters”. Whenever I listen to that song, it makes me think of this incredible network of Orthodox people I have the chance to be a part of, the eternity we are all trying to reach, the opportunities we have to aid each other in that struggle.

To me, being a Blog Contributor is a chance to be that voice crying in the wilderness, to be the person who eases another’s loneliness, to offer the back that will carry you through the hurricane waters of this tempestuous life. I can bring only myself, a love of our God and our faith, an open heart, and a slightly silly sense of wonder. But if you’ll have me, I’d love to walk a ways with you.

Kiara (like the Lion King II) Stewart is a senior art major at Alfred University, is a member/organizer of the Rochester OCF, and is trying to start a new chapter in Alfred! When she’s not covered in clay in the studio, Kiara likes to spend her free time reading, hiking, and hanging out with the Amish.