When I first arrived at RIT, I was a gangly, acne-ridden, 18-year-old fresh off the plane from Oregon. Tired of small-school life, I had chosen the biggest college on my list and moved across the country. I was convinced settling in would be a breeze.

It didn’t exactly happen that way. For those first several months, I was horribly, crushingly homesick.

I missed my friends and family with an intensity that made my chest ache. I missed the mountains, the tall fir trees and the soft mists of home. But most of all, I missed the sense of belonging that comes when you feel truly grounded.

For weeks, I was utterly convinced something was wrong with me. If college is supposed to be the best time of your life, why was I so unbearably miserable?

Now, I don’t say this to scare you. Or to say that all of you will experience the same loneliness I did. Some of you, I’m sure, will adjust with a graceful ease that would have made my freshman self green with envy.

What I am trying to say is, if you do find yourself homesick, please, please be patient with yourself. It does take time. But you also have to be proactive. Get out there in the world and find people who are passionate about the same things you are.

As a fellow introvert, I know this can be a terrifying prospect. Things might not work out the first time, and you will need to be persistent. While your orientation leaders may be overly optimistic in most regards, they are right about one thing — there really is something on this campus for everyone. Sometimes, you just have to look hard to find it.

For me, I eventually found my place and people at Reporter. These folks have grounded me, kept me sane, challenged me and been my family for these past four years. No other organization has shaped me more as a person, and I doubt any other ever will.

Slowly, through my classes and avenues like Reporter, my homesickness started to diminish. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. But one weakly sunny January day, I was walking along the quarter mile and realized that I had made a home here. Not only that, but one filled with people and things I cared deeply about.

I can’t promise that these years will be the best years of your life. But I will promise that they will be unique. Embrace these years and use them to grow.