Out-of-state students discover community, gain experiences

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Every year, California Baptist University welcomes a new assortment of students. Universities spanning the country accept students from all across the world. Newcomers range from being local, out-of-state or even international students from many diverse countries.

“(In 2019), 9.2 percent came from out of state,” said Greta Anderson, associate director of Undergraduate Admissions. “These were just new incoming students.”

Out-of-state students can find themselves in an environment that is a little different from home and are often far away from home for the first time. Anderson shared personal advice she would give to an out-of-state student who is adjusting to the Southern California lifestyle.

“Don’t be afraid to step out and do something you never would have done before,” Anderson said. “Don’t be afraid to try wearing shorts in the winter. You must spend at least one whole day driving to LA, just to spend 2 hours there and then spend the rest of the day sitting on the 91 freeway on your way home. That’s a rite of passage. Find one new, fun thing a month in Southern California and grab a buddy. The best way to get familiar is to start sharing experiences.”

All university students have unique experiences depending on their classes and activities, this is no different for out-of-state students.

Christian Semon, sophomore civil engineering major, recalled his early thoughts when he moved from Louisiana to attend CBU.

“My initial experience was the feeling of it not being real,” Semon said. “I was going to live 1,500 miles away from where I grew up and lived my entire life. I quickly got over that when I met new friends and got connected with people on campus.”

Feeling nervous in the beginning of the college experience is common among college students. Making new friends, adjusting to new schedules and exploring one’s major can all be nerve-wracking. On top of these adjustments, out-of-state students also have to get acclimated to a new area without the benefit of visiting home often.

Taylor Thomas, senior film major, explained her experience of moving from Washington state to CBU.

“Back home I experienced four seasons,” Thomas said. “In California, there are only two seasons; half the year is tame and green, the other half is blistering hot. I never saw rolling mounds until I came to the Imperial Sand Dunes. Both Washington and California are beautiful. I truly appreciate the chance to have submerged myself in a world completely opposite of where I came from.”

There are many offices on campus that dedicate themselves to getting students adjusted to life in Southern California.

“Our Community Life, Spiritual Life and Residence Life offices spend a lot of time and energy planning events for students,” Anderson said. “These events help students experience CBU and Southern California. Whether it’s trips to LA and Orange County, serving in the inner cities or simply spending time getting to know your neighbors, these offices work together to give students ample opportunities to create community and tackle new adventures.”

Living in a different state while earning a college degree provides a unique opportunity for personal growth as an individual.

“I used to think I was an introvert,” Thomas said. “Being with people for long periods of time drained my energy. But here, I’m the opposite. I want to be out; I want to be with friends constantly. I gain energy by being with people.”

Homesickness is another common experience in the early years of college, and this especially applies to out-of-state students.

“I don’t really feel homesick ever,” Semon said. “But there are moments where I think about life back in Louisiana, whether it be friends, family or food.”

Out-of-state students can take comfort in the fact that there are other students who have taken the same journey as them by attending a college far from home.

“My advice for incoming freshmen would be to get connected as soon as possible with people on campus because it helps the transition a lot,” Semon said.

Out-of-state students have the rare opportunity to explore a community outside of the one they are used to and grow on a personal level.

These students possess the freedom to learn in an entirely new environment, and having out-of-state students at universities gives local students the chance to learn from individuals with different perspectives than their own. Connecting with them provides students with opportunities to learn about faraway places and new cultures.

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