Adjusting to college one day at a time


Trenedy Parks, Staff Writer

Living away from home is hard. Moving to Florence without any prior knowledge of the area has set me back while adjusting to the new life I have here. Whether it’s an hour drive or a 20 hour flight, being in a new place like this is challenging.


As a community, Florence is very small and tight-knit, leaving little to no room for outsiders to just jump in and feel like they belong. To know about all the events and happenings in town, you have to actually know the town itself. Everyday I hear about different events happening all over. The more I try to learn more about this place, the more I feel like I’ll never truly fit into the town that is Florence, Ala.


My hometown–Fayetteville, Tenn.–is a small place where everybody knows everyone and you can get anywhere with your eyes closed. I spent my entire life in that town, starting my first job, learning to drive, and finding my love for soccer. Leaving the place where all my memories are and where I learned to be who I am today was the hardest day of my life. Going from a familiar place like that, to a completely new area is one of the most liberating actions one can take as a young adult, but it is also one of the most challenging. 


I have now realized that I don’t know much about life at all. I have to ask myself, almost too often, “what is this for?” and “how does this work?” For  these questions that my pride won’t let me ask my mom, I’ve come to rely on a dear friend–Google. Something else that I didn’t think I would have an issue with when I moved is getting around town. The roads here are confusing to the point where my GPS has become my other dear friend. A year ago, I never would have believed that I now have to drive five miles under the speed limit while relying on my phone to direct me to the nearest Walmart. 


While the layout of Florence is confusing, there’s things to do around town. Bowling alleys, concerts, and almost too many malls, I don’t think you can ever get bored. Just driving around is entertaining enough–even with the looming threat of getting lost. 


Similarly, the university itself is also confusing. Learning the names of all the departments, buildings and offices–plus their locations–was a challenge that took me an entire day. On campus, the transition into adulthood is stalled by the university’s need to watch over each class of incoming freshmen like hawks. I feel like I’m at a glorified summer camp. 


The University of North Alabama’s sense of community is held in the events that take place in and across campus. As one who is rarely in the know, I tend to miss out on a lot of exciting events. A way that I’ve learned to change that is to make friends and talk to people–and check my email regularly.  


I fully believe that people who have moved away from home should be involved in some sort of organization that they care about. It connects you with people who think similarly to you, and you meet so many people who will most likely stay in your life longer than you could ever expect. That organization for me is The Flor-Ala. In the short time that I have been involved, I have met so many great people who can help me grow into a successful adult.


The transition to UNA has not been an easy one. Like many of us do, I miss home and I wish everyday that I could be home with my family. I wish that I could be somewhere familiar again. I can only imagine how international students must feel. 


Being halfway across the world with only the people you came with must be terrifying. For many international students, being here at UNA is the first time they’ve been in the United States. Even being halfway across the globe, I haven’t seen one student with a bad attitude, or someone who doesn’t smile back at you. 


While I very much would rather be in my own home and in my own bed, the friends I have made here make the discomfort bearable. I thoroughly believe that surrounding yourself with people who can make you feel at home makes the transition easier. Good friends make you feel less alone in this very scary, and abrupt, change in your life.


Even though there is much I wish I could change about Florence, I am still grateful for the kindness the town has shown me. Still, as moving here disrupted everything I knew, I am slowly learning about what makes Florence, Florence; as well as what makes UNA, UNA.