Parents, your student chose a school in a different state. You’re nervous – they are, too. Check out this guide together! It’s written by an out-of-state student for out-of-state students. We guarantee it will provide helpful insight into making this big college move.
Florida State University ranked in the Top 20 National Public Universities in 2021 by U.S. News and World Report. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder more and more out-of-state students are enrolling every year. I came to FSU in 2018 all the way from Michigan, and one of my first college friends moved here from Wisconsin. This school was my dream but moving so far from home definitely came with some challenges.
Because I lived so far away, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, only winter break and summer. My freshman year roomie was kind enough to invite me to her home in central Florida for Thanksgiving! I highly recommend finding someone to spend those holidays with if going home isn’t always feasible.
The Tallahassee International Airport is on the southwest side of town and is a great option for flying home. However, if you can get a ride to Jacksonville or Pensacola, you might find a cheaper flight there. If money is an issue, think outside the box. Tallahassee has a Greyhound Bus Station on West Tennessee street and a ticket will get you further than you might think.
The Facebook group chats (“FSU Class of 2020,” for example) are great places to ask for rides. Around break time, people will advertise, “Going to Tampa and have an extra seat. Just pitch in for gas!” There’s plenty of great options out there, just remember to be cautious.
And if you have to, drive! I adopted a dog last year and don’t want the hassle of flying with her, so I’ve driven back and forth from Florida to Michigan many times. I stop halfway, get some sleep, chug a coffee, and get back on the road. If you’re gonna drive – and you can do it, I believe in you – just have a jamming playlist ready.
For parents looking to visit their kids, all of these recommendations apply. I’ve picked my mom up from the Tallahassee Airport many times, always with a smile. My family also made the drive down one Thanksgiving. Being far away doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice family time.
When learning about Tallahassee, Florida, or even the south in general, it’s helpful to talk to a local. My freshman year roommate, who grew up in Florida, drove me to my very first Publix. My first boss, a lobbyist at the Capitol, showed me around downtown. It never hurts to ask, but if you’d like to do your own research, try an online guide. Check out the RentTally Relocation Guide, which includes an in-depth look at each neighborhood. They recommended my now-favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Pho 7. Even after three years in Tallahassee, I learn something new every day.
Don’t get stuck inside just because you don’t know the area. Download the TallyParks App for your phone and hike the expansive trails of Tallahassee! Some of my favorite memories are a game of soccer at Tom Brown Park or a picnic in Cascades.
It can be stressful moving to a place where you don’t know anyone. Just think of it as an opportunity for something new! – a challenge.
Consider living on campus! I met most of my friends during freshman year in my dorm hall. Don’t be afraid to say hello to people in the kitchens or ask if you can buddy-up in a study room. Everyone’s looking to meet new people their first year, so don’t be nervous!
Other opportunities to meet friends are the endless welcome activities FSU holds. I’m in the Honors Program, and they had a beach day at the Rez. There are Club Sports fairs in the gym, and there always seems to be something happening on Landis Green. One day, they blew up inflatable bouncy houses. Check FSU’s event calendar to see all the opportunities!
Get involved! You could join a club, or even start one. I joined the Hiking Club, which is new this year. Check it out! Or Strike Magazine, FSU’s affiliate lifestyle magazine – I definitely recommend that if you’re looking to get creative. There are improv groups, clubs for each major, scholarly fraternities, volunteer groups. Check it all out at Nole Central. Or take Oglesby Union’s involvement survey to figure out what you might enjoy. Find it here.
Sororities and Fraternities are great for making friends. While I didn’t join one, my roommates did and loved it! There are so many houses at FSU that you’re bound to find your forever home. Rush in the fall or spring and fall in love with leadership, friendship, and philanthropy.
When coming out of state your freshman year, I highly recommend living on campus. It’s a great way to meet friends, stay close to your classes if you don’t have a car yet, and stay social. FSU’s campus is just a short walk from college town, which holds endless college events in its restaurants and bars.
Sophomore year is a great opportunity to try apartment-style living. If you still don’t have a car, stay close to campus. Try one of the off-campus apartment options in College Town, which is within easy walking distance to FSU campus. Many of these apartment options offer roommate matching, making apartment living a great opportunity to meet new friends and find your tribe in Tally.
Junior and senior year usually allow for greater flexibility. Maybe you’ve got a car, a job, responsibilities. I moved further from campus my junior year and tried a townhouse. I love having my own little house with a back porch to decorate.
You’re going to want to sign a lease in early spring, when the deals are the best. Many complexes will offer gifts or a discount on rent if you sign early enough. If you decide to wait until summer? Don’t fret, you’ll still find a great place to live. Just know that rent tends to increase later in the year.
The highlight of my freshman year was family weekend. It’s a great opportunity to get a touch of home in the midst of new adjustments. I loved showing my parents around campus, where my classes were. I even took them to the dining hall. FSU has a bunch of events for the weekend, including special lunches, a circus performance (which is a must-see), and a tailgate brunch before the football game. I went to the game with my parents, but if yours aren’t football fans, try taking them to your favorite restaurant in town or participating in the Family Weekend 5K Fun Run. I also went axe-throwing with my parents at Tomahawks 51 – super fun.
Parents, it meant a lot to me that my parents could make the trip to come visit. Even if you can’t, let your student know you’re thinking of them with a Facetime call or a care package. They miss you!
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Being an out-of-state student can be daunting! Just know that you’re not alone and you will find great friends to spend time with. Just give it time and put yourself out there. Make it a great year. Go Noles!