See you soon

Does leaving for college mean losing touch with the family?

It doesn’t have to, says our elder. Read on for tips on staying close from afar.

Dear EWC:

Hi! I am currently a senior in high school. Next fall, I will be attending Saint Louis University as a nursing student and I am extremely excited. I’m from Chicago and St Louis is about 4.5 hours away. I wanted some advice on how to stay close to my family. I have two younger sisters that I adore and I have great parents. I am really nervous about feeling distant from them and left out. I know I can call or text them whenever I want, but I’m afraid I’ll be busy a lot and our relationships will suffer. I would love some advice on how I can maintain my relationships with my mom, dad, and sisters while away at school. Thank you!

Ms.JuliaJ replies:

I’m so excited for you! Congratulations on your acceptance into nursing school. My daughter-in-law is a nurse practitioner and she loves the profession so much. Nurses have a very special place in my heart.
I am very familiar with Chicago and St. Louis. Four and a half hours is just far enough away to experience college life and become independent but not too far to go home on the weekends. It’s really hard to leave home for the first time and you will get homesick. There will be so many adjustments the first semester and as you said, you will be super busy. Your parents and sisters will miss you too; everyone has to adjust to the new normal when a significant change occurs.
Change is an opportunity to grow, and you will. You have such a strong foundation with your parents and sisters and that is so positive. Nothing will erode that; if anything, the love you all have for each other will only grow deeper.

Where I live, we have high winds and sometimes tornadoes. There are huge, tall, cottonwood trees that have been growing for 20 years and people plant them because they grow large very quickly. The problem is they have shallow roots and after a storm, they have broken off and fallen over which creates a huge mess and hazards if they fall on the roof. After they have fallen, people spend days sawing them into pieces that can be hauled off. That kind of a tree is a quick result with little payoff. On the other hand, oak trees have strong, deep roots. It will take them twice as long to get as large as a cottonwood, but they withstand winds and storms and come back every year more beautiful than ever. They need care and water and sometimes fertilizer but the time put into them is worth the effort because they will not create a hazard or disappoint.

Your family is like an oak tree. And because you have all nurtured and cared for each other through the years, you will withstand separation and distance. When you go home, it will be such a happy reunion and I wish I could be there to see all the hugs and excitement you will share. Being away from home will not damage what you have with your parents and sisters, your relationship will be more beautiful than ever because the strong foundation is already there and cannot be destroyed.
To stay in touch, do text, share photos, videos,, and call. This means more than you might think it does. I have two grown sons with their own families and we live four hours away from the younger son. We text about the smallest things. His wife is from Brazil and she cooks the most amazing food so he will send me a picture of what they are having for supper (which I tell him is so rude, lol). He is also a music teacher and a jazz musician and often will send me an audio of the kids singing or of his jazz gigs. I get to stay in touch with his day that way and I feel like I am an important part of his life. So texting is good, but pictures and little videos are great too.

Send your sisters little cards in the mail. We don’t send many cards these days but everyone loves to get mail because it’s so unusual to actually get any these days. I grew up in a different time, but my mom saved all of the cards I ever gave her and that means so much to me to know how much they meant to her. I have all the cards that my sons have given to me and they mean the world, so parents like to get cards too. Of course there are all the online ways to see each other, which I’m sure you know far better than I do.

What I know for sure is that you are about to have such a fantastic college experience and I know your family is so proud of all you have accomplished. Continue to be excited; don’t let the unknown create fear. Just from your letter, I know that you are ready to take the next steps in your life. Congratulations on completing high school. Now, go forward and reach for all the fantastic adventures that are ahead of you. And, again, thank you for going into nursing as a career. We appreciate you giving yourself to the healthcare field, especially at this time.

Take care, I will be thinking of you.

Category: Family
Letter #457098

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