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10 Tips on Being an Out-of-State Student

Emma gives her top tips for college adjustment as an out-of-state student.

Emma gives her top tips for college adjustment as an out-of-state student.

Hey everyone! I’m Em, a first-year student from Florida born in the Bay Area. I am beyond excited to start blogging and share my perspectives with other students and prospies
Many of my loved ones were shocked when they heard I was moving to Minnesota. But now at halfway through the term, I have already learned so much about adjusting to an out-of-state college. Below are a few tips that are important to keep in mind!

Tip 1: Put yourself out there!

I decided to be as open-minded as possible, attend social events, and get involved in on-campus activities. Since I knew no one coming to Carleton besides my roommate, I wanted to make the effort to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. This definitely is not required to find friends, but keep in mind that college is a great time to try new things! (Especially as an incoming student, New Student Week is a great opportunity to do this!)


group photo during TRIO event
Some friends and I attending a TRIO event!

Tip 2: Remember that you are going to meet a LOT of different kinds of people.

You will have exposure to a lot of new experiences and ways of life that may be very foreign to you. That’s what college is about! You are here to learn not only from academics but from the multitude of new people around you.


Tip 3: Be willing to add to (or completely change) your wardrobe!

Going from the warmth and humidity of South Florida to Minnesota’s weather is a pretty big jump for me. Even though I had to add a few new coats to my wardrobe, I really enjoy the fall season, and watching the leaves slowly change colors is incredible (especially coming from someone who has never seen seasons before!). So far, it has not been as cold as I thought it was going to be, but that will most likely change when I come back for winter term in January!


campus during fall term
The trees are so pretty, but it’s getting cold outside!


Tip 4: Be aware that some food options may not be accessible.

The dining halls are generally very adaptable to dietary restrictions. But, there may be some restaurants or specific foods you have back home that may not be accessible when you go to college. There is, however, a nice selection of restaurants in downtown Northfield, and all dorms and off-campus houses offer kitchens open to students. And as always, this may be an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and find a second favorite food!


Tip 5: Expect Minnesota people to be VERY nice.

Every conversation I’ve had with faculty, the surrounding community, and local students has blown my mind. “Minnesota nice” is not just a saying! There is a culture of genuine outward friendliness, and it is very easy to make friends and meet new people. That being said, everybody has their off days every once in a while, and it can be up to you to adopt “Minnesota nice” to keep that culture moving and flowing.


Tip 6: There is most likely a community of people with similar identities as you– go out and find them!

I’ve really enjoyed finding and bonding with fellow Floridians and Californians. My family is also Brazilian, and finding other Brazilian students that speak Portuguese has been very exciting. Start conversations by asking people about themselves and their identities, and check out the cultural clubs and interest houses!


student involvement fair 2021
The student involvement fair!


Tip 7: Prepare to experience tiny culture shocks.

With a body of students coming from around the globe, there have been several times when I’ve experienced differences in slang and perceptions. Yes, there are some students here that say bagel as “bag-el” instead of “bay-gull”, call waterfalling a water bottle a “hockey drink”, and call soda “pop”. Having discussions on pronunciation and slang with students from across the globe has been a great topic of conversation (and heated yet friendly debate)


Tip 8: Be open to new experiences!

Embrace being in a new environment! Being at a small liberal arts college in a rural town is an experience like no other. I came from a much bigger city in comparison to Northfield. But after being here for a few weeks, I realize there is a very diverse and abundant community at Carleton and the greater Northfield area. Where there is a myriad of people, there is an even greater variety of interesting things to do and see.


freshman planting trees in the arb
Freshman planting trees in the arb!


Tip 9: Remember that this is also new for everyone else.

We are all here to learn– whether it be in the classroom, on the Bald Spot, or even in your dorm’s laundry room. Sometimes that learning takes the shape of understanding how to interact with people in a positive and meaningful way. Yes, sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there and start conversations. But usually (and especially in a time like starting college), everyone is feeling the exact same way


Tip 10: Go out and explore!

Now is such an important time for you to grow as a person and enjoy new experiences! Be yourself and you will find people who want to interact with you. Also, remember that there are always resources on campus to help you succeed, find a niche, or even build one!



Emma (she/her) is a first-year student from South Florida. She is interested in Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. Em is a member of TRIO and also works as an Event Manager at the Weitz. When not in class, she enjoys going to the Rec, riding her bike around campus, and drinking coffee.