Before coming to Hope, I knew that living on campus would be a huge part of my college experience but I didn’t know what this entailed. My understanding of living away from home came from Gilmore Girls. If you’re familiar with the show, you know that Rory’s mom Lorelai comes and sleeps over on her very first night in the dorm. Moving away from home can definitely be hard! The systems and culture in place here at Hope ensure that it can also be beautiful. Here’s three things I wish I knew about living away from home:

1) Freedom, Responsibility, and GRACE

Maybe you’ve heard people say they love the freedom of living away from home. Living away from home means that you manage your own schedule. You choose when to sleep and wake up, what to eat, whether you’re sick enough to miss class, and so on. As the great adage says, with great freedom comes great responsibility. It’s important to develop discipline and solid routines when living away from home. I wish I knew that creating these systems would take some trial and error. The planner that keeps me organized is different than the calendar that keeps my best friend on track, and that’s okay! Grace abounds, especially in this transition process as you find out what works for you.

2) Support Systems

The Residential Directors and Residential Assistants in each dorm building are an amazing resource for students navigating the transition to independent living. I have an amazing RA and RD who’ve gone out of their way to create community in our dorm, schedule one-on-ones, and check in on me personally. In every dorm, RAs put on different events such as weekly pancake nights that help students have a home base, even when living away from home. Outside of the dorm, Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Ministries chaplains are helpful resources that offer support in the transition to independent living. Knowing about the myriad of people that pray for, invest in, and deeply care about students at Hope would’ve put my mind at ease as I imagined what moving to college would look like.

3) Hospitality

I’m from a town about an hour from Holland and I see my family a few times a semester. Some of my friends are from much farther away and only travel home in between semesters. The Hope families my friends and I have met, though, have been incredibly generous. My friends from local cities have hosted us at their houses with home cooked meals. Campus Ministries staff invited my friend group to their house for dinner as we prepped for exams. Local Holland churches also pour into Hope students by hosting meals for us, reaching out, or initiating personal relationships within the congregation. I’m so thankful for the generosity of families that have welcomed me and my friends as their own and made sure we’re taken care of while at school. Between my friends, their families, and the Holland community, I can feel supported at school even when my family isn’t right there.

Last fall, a local friend’s family hosted our immersion trip group for dinner!

Wrapping it Up…

Even away from home, at Hope the reality is that you’re not on your own. Our school has a wonderful residential life staff and a hospitable community that provides support and accountability to college students in this new stage of life.

Living away from home offers both freedom and responsibility. At Hope, it can be a beautiful and grace-filled experience too.

Published by Audrey Wells

Class of 2026 Hometown: Portage, MI Majors: Communications & Spanish Minor: Social Witness Ministry & Global Health

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