How is your settling in progressing? Are you still getting lost — I found the BEST map of my new campus at the Disability Resource Center counter, which happens to be on the first floor of my office building. You know how I found it? I asked the person behind the counter where a building was and she said, “Here, take this map. Then you can find any of the buildings you need.” You might think, “wow, why couldn’t she just give you directions?!” And, I admit, I might have thought that for a split second — but then I opened the map and it was BEAUTIFUL — glossy, vivid colors, a print that was large enough to read without holding it next to my nose. What a gift! Lesson of this interaction: Ask for help when you need it!
Have you found the various places on campus that have the resources you need to be a healthy person? This is critical. A new environment (even in the same old city/town) will have different access and locations for those resources. Think about the following list:
1. Health clinic (including pharmacy)
2. Gym/workout facilities
Obviously, your campus has many resources that are specific to your classes. I want you to be sure to consider other resources that you should have at the tips of your fingers in your new place.
Locate the campus health clinic. If your campus does not have one, find out what clinic students go to when they aren’t feeling well. You do NOT want to wait until you are ill. On my (new to me) campus, I found out that even faculty can go to the health center if they are ill at work (!); and, my new institution provides free flu shots for everyone! (This is seriously something to take advantage of — early on. You do not want to be sitting next to sneezing/sniffling folks without SOME protection.) At my old institution, the health clinic offered a free eye/vision exam every year to students. A resource that many students weren’t aware of and therefore didn’t take advantage of. Find out what your fees are ALREADY paying for and then be sure to take advantage of each of these opportunities! Also make sure to know where to go for dental services — some campuses may offer them, others may not. Find a nearby dentist in case you have a dental emergency; ask your institution if your student health insurance will work for dental emergencies or preventative care. Know what your options are!
Most campuses have gym privileges for students. Find out where your fitness center is; or, what kind of fitness courses are offered. Again, take advantage of these resources early and often. Exercising helps reduce stress, helps you concentrate better on your courses, and generally makes you feel better. Plus you can make new and different friends from those you sit next to in class. It will be fun!
Where is your nearest ATM/bank? Be sure you have access to money and resources when you need them. If the ATM near you isn’t part of your banking system, look online or call to find out what fees you may have to pay to use that ATM so you aren’t surprised later on.
Finally, ask at your health center (once you locate it!) what kind of counseling services are available to students. Most institutions offer psychological counseling services — they are typically included in your student fees; be sure to ask. And, then, even more importantly — take advantage of these services. The counselors are there to listen to your anxieties, your problems, or your joys. Give them a chance! They are typically impartial, objective, and good at listening. Be sure to give them a try.
As you settle in, don’t forget to settle in your physical and mental health — it is critical to be a “good student” — alert and well in the classroom, ready to study, make friends, and have fun!