Moving Out of Province for University
By: Tyler Burton
Two years ago I moved out to Halifax, Nova Scotia from my hometown in Mississauga, Ontario and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My name’s Tyler Burton, I’m going into my third-year of marine biology at Dalhousie University, and here’s my insight on moving halfway across the country for school.
Moving away for university is a tough choice and one that comes with its fair share of considerations but can be extremely rewarding if you make the choice that’s right for you. Obviously, this choice is highly situational and there's a lot of factors to consider - your academics, your friend group, your family, your mental health (both positive and negative), but if you weigh your options, you can come out of it with a great experience.
Academic opportunity is probably the main driving factor of wanting to move away for university; I know it was for me. Ultimately, that’s what you’re going to university for - for higher education, so it would make sense that the quality of the program you’re moving so far away for is a major factor in the decision. Dalhousie, being a five minute walk from the Atlantic coast, has great practical, hands-on lab work, and excellent research opportunities which were key elements that caught my attention and enticed me to drive 18 hours across the country to start the next chapter in my life.
When I was looking at universities that had a quality marine biology program, I knew Dalhousie was one of the best but was hesitant on moving so far away from everything I’d ever known, and essentially starting my life anew. And for some, that’s the enticing factor of moving, being forced to meet new people and forget their past.
Friendships & Relationships:
Although moving away from everyone you’ve ever known may seem intimidating, now is honestly the best time to get a taste of it, what with coronavirus and virtual communication at an all time high. It’s important to keep in touch with everyone you care for and want to keep in touch with. I know that sounds stupid, you’re probably thinking “Of course I’m going to keep in touch with the people I want to keep in touch with”. But make it concrete because as exam season rolls around, you’re going to have excuses, so set a schedule, a relatively small time commitment, but an important one (for example, a half hour call every Sunday evening). Trust me when I say it makes a big difference.
One of the main worries of moving away for university is the fear of not finding new friends
Or maybe that's what you're looking for, maybe you want to reset your friend group. I can guarantee one thing for certain - you will meet new people and make new friends. You can actively seek out new people to meet through extracurriculars that pique your interest, joining a fraternity or sorority, or going to social events hosted by various clubs and societies. But at the same time, you will also passively find new people through lab partners, classmates, and residence social events.
Living so far away from home isn’t without its challenges. I’m almost living a double life, only able to interact with either part in person for half the year. I won’t lie, this double life makes relationships difficult. I do know people who have very successful long distance relationships, but at the same time, it raises a hurdle for starting a relationship to establish that half of it will have to be virtual. While it does create a challenge, it’s by no means impossible, although it is a factor to consider.
Mental health is an important discussion point here as well. Maybe moving away is a positive change, getting away from something in your past. Or maybe moving away is a negative change, maybe you’re more susceptible to being homesick than you thought. I know people who realized they weren’t cut out to live away from home and decided to move back halfway through the school year. Feeling homesick is perfectly natural, and to be expected when moving away for the first time. It affects some more than others but that doesn’t mean it’s a be all and end all of your decision.
There are plenty of mental health services and welcoming people to help you feel at home. One thing I’ve found has helped me out a bunch with managing stress and just relaxing in general was exploring. Moving away presents an opportunity to discover a new environment. Something I did in my second year was I tried to visit a new place in Nova Scotia every week (since bus and ferry passes are included with your student card). As long as you’re honest with yourself and with the choice you make regarding your own mental health, I’m sure you’ll excel in the choice you make.
Moving away for university isn’t the right move for everyone and there are a lot of factors to consider. Even though a decision this large can seem daunting, it can be extremely worthwhile and rewarding. As long as you weigh your options and consider all the factors, I guarantee you’ll make a choice you’re happy with and that you’ll have a great time in whichever path you choose!
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