Now that you’re starting your master’s degree, you have to get used to a new campus in a new city, make new friends, find your classrooms, and get used to your department.
It’s almost like you’re an undergrad all over again. (Of course, this doesn’t apply if you are doing your master’s at the same school you did your bachelor’s degree).
Once you’re settled into your new place (which can be in residence or off-campus), you should take the spare time you have to orient yourself to your new surroundings.
Check out campus
Most of your time over the next year or more will be spent within the confines of your school’s campus, and it is best to find out what is available to you before you need it.
For example, looking for an on-campus location that serves coffee at 1 a.m. is much easier a) if you know which places on campus sell coffee, and b) which of the said locations are actually open at 1 a.m.
Some graduate student associations may offer tours of the campus, but if they don’t, arm yourself with a map and start wandering around.
Go to orientation
The purpose of your orientation is to acquaint yourself with the campus, the school and your program, but also to meet other graduate students. You will have the opportunity to meet people who are in the same situation as you – this is your chance to meet new friends early in the year.
If your school offers a graduate orientation week, go to the events. They will help meet people, get used to the school and see the city.
Explore the city
Almost every university town has a bunch of different hot spots: awesome places to eat, pretty green spaces, interesting history and a variety of cafés to get your caffeine fix. Check out tourism websites or the local tourism office, or ask locals and fellow students what you should see. Hop on a bus, grab your bike or set out on foot and start investigating. You never know what you will find in a new place!
Expect to be home sick
If you’re moving away from home for the first time, it is normal to feel homesick and to miss your family, friends, pets, and even the barista that makes your 2 p.m. Wednesday latte.
If you already lived away from home, you may experience homesickness again. Alternatively, you can also miss the school and the campus you left behind. In nearly all cases, these feelings will start to pass once you get to know your surroundings better.