By Lacy Henderson
It doesn’t feel like it was too long ago that I was on my journey to begin my secondary education, and even more important living away from home. As an amputee, I have learned some important lessons over the years in academia that I would love to share with those moving to dorms, moving away or even studying abroad!
TIP #1 | Since you’re going away for an education, stay educated! Talk to your trusted prosthetist (for those who wear prosthetics) and get educated on what you have, the characteristics of your body, and find someone close to where you’re moving to in case you have any emergency issues! You can’t afford to miss a lot of classes in college, so if you break any parts you should have a contact who can order things and put them on for you. Bring extra liners, socks and anything else you might need (that you never think about). Make sure to keep communication open with your clinical professional during your time away if anything happens, so they are up-to-date when you return to get work done.
TIP #2 | Be patient. In everyday life, people are going to be curious about your limb difference and/or prosthesis. Be patient with them! You’re going to school and growing up, not only to receive an education, but also to educate others (that’s why you will write so many papers and have so many projects!). If people ask questions, find a way to answer them the best you can; you never know, you may inspire a future prosthetist! If you need any special accommodations, advise your professors as soon as possible (your first class). If you have a class on the other side of campus from your previous class and only five minutes to get there, let your professor know! There should be a counselor at your college to help you register for classes, and figure out how to get around or deal with problems like that! (Maybe they will give you preferred registration and you can get into all of your first-choice classes!)
TIP #3 | Know yourself, and don’t overdo it! In college, there will be infinite opportunities and groups you can join, and it’s important to try new things and get out there as much as you can, but at the same time, it’s totally OK to say no. You create your own workload at school, but if you’re in meetings every night for different groups, it will be hard to get organized for projects and homework. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work outside of class you can do, but if you start slow to get a feeling of how your semester will go, you can always add more stuff in later.
TIP #4 | Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Although you shouldn’t get your plate too full, college is for trying new things and finding out what you like! You should be open to classes or groups outside of what you think you are going to major in, because you never know when you’ll get inspired to do something different and totally great.
TIP #5 | Hang out with your new friends. And enjoy every minute of it! Everyone gets homesick, and it’s easy to miss how your life was before you moved away. But this is such an awesome experience, the best thing to do in this case is keep yourself busy with your new friends! You will learn to find comfort within yourself and new experiences. Growing up is hard to do, but it’s good to share it with others who are going through the same adventure as you. Remember throughout all of the stress, these are some of the greatest memories you will make!