Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fear Factor #1: Distance

            One of the main dilemmas that students face when deciding on a college is distance away from home.  Being far away from home can be a very taxing thing emotionally on some students.

            “It can be really difficult to be that far away from your primary support group,” said Barton Turner, licensed psychologist and instructor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma.  “If you come from a relatively intact and close family I think it can be difficult to be that far away.  The physical separation can be hard.”

            The main problem with distance from home is that there is not a set formula or standard for how the human mind will respond to being so far away from the primary support group.  It is entirely dependent upon the personality and nature of an individual. 

            “I think it’s something you have to know yourself well enough to know if that’s something that you might be able to tolerate,” said Turner.  “I think there are some people that are independent minded enough and their personality could go across the country and go to school.  They’ll have some adjustment problems for sure.  Then there are some people who need to stay fairly close for how they are wired.”

            For those that are not well suited for going a great distance away from home for school but do it anyway, a vicious cycle develops.  Not being surrounded by a strong social network cause students to withdraw into themselves, which causes them to feel lonelier, says Turner.

            “As you feel socially isolated, people will isolate themselves further, so they don’t pursue opportunities,” said Turner.  “It’s a cycle that leaves you feeling pretty depressed.” 

            However, as sad and depressing as this sounds, loneliness can certainly be avoided for those who are going far away from home for college.  Enter Sammi Fuller and Lindsay Lanthripe.

Sammi (above, in glasses) and Lindsay, sophomores at the University of Oklahoma, are from Diamond Bar, California and have been best friends since birth.  They live around the corner from each other, were home-schooled together and attended the same high school.

            Upon graduation, both decided to attend the University of Oklahoma.  Of course, it was for the same reason.

            “When my brother at OU, he was a part of a ministry on campus, the Baptist Student Union, and I really wanted to be a part of it too to get trained so that I could grow in my walk with God,” said Lindsay.

            “I would come with Lindsay to visit her brother and when we came, we would stay with older girls in the dorms and I just loved living in the dorms and getting to see how they related to girls and what they were living for,” said Sammi.  “I really wanted to receive spiritual training in college and I felt that the Baptist Student Union could give that to me.”

            Lindsay and Sammi say that it was hard at times to be away from their friends and family their freshman year but making friends really made things fun and easy to adjust. 

            “It’s hard because I’m playing this balancing act like when I’m at home I love it and miss my friends here and when I’m here I miss my friends at home and my family,” said Lindsay.

            ““Last year was really hard but was also fun cause we got to know our friends’ families and we could go home with them,” said Sammi.

            No matter what the case, everyone is going to experience some sort of adjustment pains.  It’s true of students who stay close to home and especially of those that come to school from far away.  The biggest key to getting through that time period is to surround yourself with people like yourself that you can share life with. 

            “I would say just make sure that there are people there that you can really connect with and build community with; people that are on the same page as you with the same desires and goals for life,” said Sammi.  

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