A parent robin kicks a baby out of the nest.

It’s almost that time to leave your metaphorical nest!

This is it.

New sheets are bought, your bags are packed, your fall schedule is set (at least, you think it is), now all that’s left is to get in the car or plane and move to your new home of Winona, Minnesota.

But then it hits you: the butterflies in your stomach and the unending list of questions that keep you up that extra half an hour at night.

  • Maybe I shouldn’t be taking chemistry my first semester.
  • Is it too late to switch?
  • Did I get all the right books for my classes?
  • What if I don’t make friends the first week?
  • Should I have completely paid my tuition already?

These questions may seem overwhelming but I have some advice for you: breathe.

The anxiety you’re feeling is normal, healthy even, but don’t let it bog you down or overwhelm the feelings of excitement you should be feeling about this next big step in your life.

Remind yourself that you won’t be kicked out of school if you walk into the wrong classroom on your first day, nor are you the only one who feels apprehensive and worried about the big move.

The faculty and staff at Winona State wants to be here to help you through this transition. So here are a few tips to help make your first few weeks at Winona State a breeze.

1. Do your research.

Don’t make that face, you don’t have to start your trips to the library early, just do your research on what you’re headed into.

There are plenty of resources online to answers all of your financial aid, housing, student life and student employment questions– you just have to look. Knowing the answers before you show up on move-in day will help quell nerves and make you feel more prepared.

2. Connect.

Before you even put one foot on campus, you can be on your way to getting to know your incoming classmates. Connect on the Class of 2023 Facebook group to see what other students are talking about, find your roommate and share your worries with others who are going through the same life changes you are.

3. Be open with others and yourself.

Even if it seems like you are the only one who showed up knowing absolutely no one, you’re not.

It takes a certain amount of courage to put yourself out there and ask the people down the hall if they want to grab lunch in the cafeteria with you or ask to join a game of volleyball, but you will be so glad you did.

4. Stay active and don’t isolate yourself.

As appealing as it may seem to lock yourself in your room with the latest series on Netflix, go to the res hall lobby and see who wants to join, knock on doors and see who’s up for disc golf down by the lake or if anyone wants to help you get your Quidditch club started. This is your time to dive headfirst into your new community so don’t waste it.

5. Explore.

The first day won’t seem quite as nerve-wracking if you know exactly where you are going. Make a date with your roommate to find all of your classrooms ahead of time.

Make a trip downtown and see where this Acoustic Café is that everyone keeps talking about and get to know the Island City to make it really feel like home.

6. Disconnect from devices.

Here at WSU, we pride ourselves in our latest technology and we love to use it, but there is a time and a place. And the first day of any class isn’t it. Instead of whipping out the laptop or opening Snapchat on your smartphone before class starts, keep devices in your backpack and get to know your classmates.

Make use of your now-perfected small talk skills and you’ll quickly find your class of 50 students just got a smaller. While it’s always good to check in with your friends from back home to see how they are doing their first week, don’t let it distract from your own experience

7. Stick around.

Does a baby bird fly back to the nest immediately after its first flight? Well, I’m not really sure, but you shouldn’t. You’re big kids now and its time to assert your independence from home.

Stick around Winona on the weekends and see what’s happening around here. Make plans with your floor to go canoeing or hiking. Just remember to give your parents a call so they can be rest assured that you are surviving on your own.

Take it one step at a time and in a few years you will look back and ask yourself, “What was I so nervous about?”

Updated Feb. 14, 2019 by Elizabeth Meinders

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Elizabeth Ortiz

Elizabeth graduated with BA degrees in Communication Studies and Spanish in 2014. She is from Lakeville, MN and her hobbies include running her own blog and planning her next adventure somewhere in the world.