Q&A: Help I am not able to adjust in hostel!

Question: Help I have recently joined a new college and am away from home for the first time. I am not able to adjust to hostel and I want to drop out of this course and go home and pursue some course there. – Anonymous

Answer: Dear ‘Anon’, after PUC a lot of young people join colleges in another city and for most of them the initial period of adjustment is tough. On one hand the familiar faces of parents, siblings and friends are missing, along with the known bylanes and favourite spots to hang out. On the other hand one has to adapt to a new set of rules and routine as well as new set of classmates and probably roommates, with a lifestyle, habits and choices. So it is natural that you are feeling homesick, find it hard to adjust in hostel and yearn to go back to your home town.

However, most such youngsters stick around with their new college and hostel because they had made the initial choice for some strong reason, such as- a good course, career potential, great campus, a childhood dream etc. If your desire to leave this college is purely because of adjustment issues then you can think of all the reason which made you choose this current college, how it might help your future career. You might also think of all the realistic difficulties you might face while changing college after the session has started.

Question: I wonder if this phase will ever get over.

Answer: In fact, if you stay on for some time, you might realise that you have started liking this place and also your hostel life, with a new set of skills, experiences, and friends. Later, after few years or a decade, you may even look back upon these years with positive nostalgia and want to revisit it in your mind or even visit this place again. In times to come you may look back upon these years as times of growth and learning.

Question: How can I adjust better to my hostel life? If I can find some way to stick around this would be good for my future. – xyz

Answer: Dear xyz, it is good that you think your current academic environment has a lot to offer, and you are looking for ways to adapt to your living circumstances in the hostel. Treat this phase of your life as time to learn many new things; it can be developing a new hobby, to discovering your talents, making new friends and opening one’s perspective. An attitude of growth will make this time enjoyable and productive, both.

Most people around you would be new and some may also be feeling homesick like you. Treat everyone with respect, and also show your interest in some to build newer friendships. Ask your hostel mates/ roommates about their hobbies, listen to their life experiences, join campus activities together, and offer to help when required. Spending time and energy towards developing good friendships and engaging in extra-curricular activities help both in short term as well as long term.

Question: Is there something I should be cautious about?

Answer: Remember, it is easy to give in to feelings of loneliness and isolation and take recourse to social network and digital world. With new found freedom and no parental supervision some students get trapped into increasingly time consuming and unhealthy behaviours. It can be something like till late night time watching movies or playing video games or even lurking on facebook and instagram kind networking sites, and next morning getting up very late and skipping classes. Or it can be something worse like getting addicted to pornography or to alcohol/drugs. An initial attempt to feel good and less lonely may lead on to a path which might spoil one’s physical and mental health and career both. Therefore it is important to make a commitment that one will use good judgement in choosing healthy ways of adjustment and not give in to temptations of indulging in unhealthy distractions.

It is also important to maintain and care for old ties, and keep in touch with folks back home, parents siblings and other extended family members as well as friends who themselves have moved to different cities. One can share one’s experiences with them over distance as well as plan to meet during holidays. This will give you a sense of connection, a liste3ning ear to share experiences and for taking advice when one feels a lit lost. Then after a year or two, you can advice and mentor your own juniors and younger cousins as to how one should adapt to a hostel life.

Expert:Dr Jyotsna Agrawal

Dr Jyotsna is assistant professor of Positive Psychology at the Dept. of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore