There is a lot of pressure in college to find your people, get involved and take academically rigorous courses. Starting school is a form of culture shock. You are in a new environment away from what was previously normal and comfortable. It is a big change and the pressure of becoming involved is daunting. LMU has a lot to offer when it comes to getting involved, but finding what you like and where you belong can be hard.

This summer, I had the opportunity to be an orientation leader and help incoming freshmen in their transition to life at LMU. Orientation isn’t always the most positive memory associated with the beginning of freshman year, but we all had to do it. I was able to build friendships and find a sense of community among my fellow orientation leaders (O-leaders) throughout the two weeks that we worked together.

Even now, almost a week into school, I am still able to help lost freshmen find their classes and provide advice on these classes and/or the fastest route to UHall. I found a sense of belonging and meaning in an unexpected way that has shaped my LMU experience for the better.

Becoming an O-leader was an unexpected way to find a sense of belonging and meaning at LMU, but I still struggle as I meet new people. I love college, but we all have moments of loneliness where we question whether we belong or not. And that’s okay.

We all want to be included and feel welcomed. Arriving at a new environment for the first time can be scary⁠. The need to belong is instinctive and we all go about achieving it in different ways. LMU has a lot to offer in finding where you belong: between clubs, sports and student government, there is something for everyone. I encourage you to search for the activities that you enjoy and try to be social in that way, but I recognize that putting yourself out there can be hard.

With that said, involvement within your community is important and can help you become a more well-rounded person. Exploring different opportunities on campus can make LMU feel more like home and help overcome any homesickness or loneliness.

I want to emphasize that finding where you belong can take anywhere from a month to the entire fall semester or your entire freshman year. There is no formula for finding your place at LMU — it comes in many different shapes and forms and can change over time.

Personally, it took me a while to find where I belong. I signed up for a few different clubs that seemed interesting, and I only continued with one of them. Through that club, I was able to meet a friend who would later become my roommate and introduce me to all my other roommates. I found friends who support me and a couple of places on campus that I am fortunate to be a part of. I am always trying to grow and find new organizations to join and new people to meet — the search never ends.

I want to send well wishes to all my fellow LMU students and offer you all the best of luck in your college experience. My hope for all the new students and those returning is that they can find where they belong and that they can call LMU home.

This is the opinion of Sally Dean, a sophomore political science major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to the editor@theloyolan.com.

Sally Dean is a sophomore political science major and a Pittsburgh native. She loves to bake cookies (and eat them), and attempt DIY crafts.

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