There comes a point in life where we have to make some important decisions. For me, I had to make the decision to move to Pennsylvania to complete my level 2 fieldwork for my occupational therapy doctorate (OTD) program at the GU Ruskin campus.  Time has really flown since the end of the semester and our white coat ceremony and it just continues to fly by. Since then, I have packed my bags and made a second home out of beautiful Erie, PA.

For those of you who don’t know much about me, I grew up in Tampa, Florida and am in my 3rd year of the OTD program. I hadn’t ever been to Pennsylvania and I have only seen photos of our beautiful main campus. I have never lived away from home, ever, but I took a risk and decided to sign up to complete one of my level 2 fieldworks in Erie in a mental health setting. Luckily, one of my classmates and friends is also completing her fieldwork in Erie as well, so it has been helpful to have someone here that I know.

Having never lived away from my family before, I was nervous. I am sure this is something that many of you can relate to, especially since we have so many students from different states and countries! I got really anxious the days leading up to the big move. Thankfully, over the last two years, I made many friends in Erie from classmates and all of the wonderful Edge staff & students who all provided the emotional support I needed. Although I knew I had a support and social system in Erie, I still felt nervous about being away from my family and friends. Over the last few weeks, I definitely had a rough transition. I took some time to reflect on why I was feeling so nervous and anxious and came up with some tips that hopefully someone out there moving for an internship or for school can use to become more at ease. Following are some tips that I have found to help me feel a little better:

  • Stay in contact with your friends from home. I have been FaceTiming and video-chatting often with my friends. It really gives me a chance to catch up and just enjoy the company of my friends, even thought they are miles and miles away. I have also been keeping in touch with some of my classmates since they are all in the same boat of figuring out how to navigate the fieldwork experience.
  • Don’t be afraid to make new friends. If you take the time to get to know other people, especially if they grew up in the area that you are now living in, you can have more support and you can get the inside scoop on all of the best places to go- from outdoor adventures to doughnut/coffee shops!
  • Take time for yourself. I realized quickly that I wasn’t taking time for myself to just relax and reflect. I got so overwhelmed trying to keep up with friends and family on top of adjusting to fieldwork that I didn’t take much time to just be. Make sure you work personal time into your schedule.
  • Make a bucket list. Although I have a pretty busy schedule, I want to see as much of Erie and the surrounding area as I can before I leave at the end of September. Having a bucket list can give you some things to look forward to. I know that there are a ton of things to do in Erie that I can’t do at home, so I definitely want to make the most of my time here.

Even though it may be scary and intimidating to move away from home, just know that it is all temporary. If you are just moving for school or an internship, enjoy the time to explore a new town and make the most of it. I visited the main campus and it was so refreshing to finally meet some of the individuals I had been speaking to over the last two years. They all made me feel right at home. Although I still have a couple months more to go, I know that it is going to breeze by. There are going to be times that I wish I was at home, but I know that my focus is to learn and continue my OTD journey through this new challenge.

So far, Erie has been wonderful. I got to take a tour of the main campus with the wonderful Teddy Rankin & Ali Hess from the Edge team. I got to try Sara’s Ice-cream on National Ice-cream Day and a few trips to Wegman’s (which is probably the best grocery store ever!). There is still much to see and do and I will really try to enjoy the summer! I hope that if any of you are in a similar situation that you know it will all breeze by. Just know that any challenges you may be facing will only allow you to continue to grow and learn more about yourself, even though it may be a little nerve-wracking.

I hope you all continue to follow the rest of my journey in the coming weeks. If you have any suggestions on cool things to do in Erie, send me a message!

Sue Ram