If you are or  you are going to be attending James Madison University but do not live in the lovely state of Virginia,  here are a few helpful tips to help you along your way. Although,  there are students that come from all over the glob to attend  JMU the vast majority of the students are in-state . So it is up to us out of state students to learn the ways and stick together!

1. “Nova” at JMU does mean Villanova University  

If you have never spent much time in VA or have never even been to VA you may not know that “Nova” in Virginia means Northern Virginia or the counties that surround Washington D.C.  The majority of students that attend JMU are from VA or more specifically Nova. To identify where they are from they may refer to their counties rather then towns. Most people who live in Nova have parents who commute to DC every day to work for the government. So they might serve as a good contacts for any of you majoring in political science or any majors really. Now, you may hear some mixed reviews about the personalities of Nova students in general  but do not assume that every NOVA person is the same. Sure they have their own slang terms that are a little out there but other than that you will most likely have a best friend from NOVA by the end of your first year. Also, keep this in mind when you are searching for roommates on the Facebook page. When people say they are from NOVA they do not mean that they are transferring from Villanova University.

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2. Weather  in Harrisonburg is bipolar 

Do not pack for a season! If you are a student from out of state it may be hard to keep your entire wardrobe in the small  dorm closets here but do not switch out  all your clothes based on the seasons. Instead keep a few items that could work in multiple types of weather and be prepared to layer them.  In Harrisonburg you will be able to experience all 4 seasons in the span of 24 hours most days.  The best advice for surviving  this is to  use your storage space wisely, over pack rather than under pack, and most importantly layer your clothes whenever you leave the dorm. Never relay on the weather forecast from the night before it can change at the drop of a dime. Your back pack can also qualifies as storage space so stuff a sweater-shirt and umbrella in there along with your books.  If you aren’t a huge fan of snow this is the perfect place for you because there is rarely any snow and if there is it disappears in the matter of hours.


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3. Everyone will be bringing  their High School Drama with them 🙁

Since the majority of students who attend James Madison University are from VA this means that many classmates of theirs  from High School will be joining them at college. Now this can be for the good or for the bad depending on who they were in their teens. Some of them may have friends that can be your new friends as well. Which is great because being able to say “hi” to familiar faces  when passing each other on the quad  is exactly what will make JMU feel like home. On the down side they might have past drama joining them here as well. Weather that be an ex bf, gf, or bff it is not your problem to deal with. There is no need to go out of your way to avoid this drama just do not engage in it. For the first few weeks you may feel overwhelmed hearing of all this baggage people chose to drag with them on this next chapter in their lives. No worries though because with time they will mature and get over the petty fights and distant betrails. Besides hearing of all of this will reaffirm your decision to go to another state for college and give yourself a fresh new start to grow without the past burdening you.

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4. People will constantly ask you ” How did you find JMU?”

For out of state students that attend James Madison University, there is a question that you will get more than “What are you majoring in?” or “What hall do you live in?”, that question being”How did you find JMU?”. To most people that grew up in the state of VA they always knew of the three large universities  that they would someday attend Virginia State Uni, Virginia Tech and yours truly JMU. The thought of  going out of state for college when you live in the VA with so many great options does not cross the minds of many native VA students. They never had to search far and wide to find the place that best fit them.  So when they hear of people driving over 8 hours to get to JMU or even buying a plane ticket to get here they are in utter shock and ah.  Over time you will have a short answer to the question just to save your breath. Your you can get creative and come up with a new story every time you are asked just to give yourself a little challenge. No matter how you found JMU at the end of the day you will just be happy to all this place your home away from home.

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5. Your Birthday will be Different to say the Least 

If  your coming from far away and your birthday is during the school year then you are in for a bitter sweet treat. Now your friends from VA may have their families come into town for the day to celebrate with them and take them out to dinner but do not get jealous if that is not the case for you on your big day. You will be able to have the best of both worlds for your birthday will  not include an obligatory family dinner.  No more lame sober b-days at the bowling ally for you. Now you can go out with friends and have them treat you to a nice meal off campus! Which yes, does become a huge treat considering the fact that you will all be very broke. If your parents are with the times they may be able to figure out how to send you campus cookies or an edible arrangement. The bitter part of all of this is that it will be different. You won’t be waking up to your family singing happy birthday and your favorite homemade breakfast. But E-Hall brunch will be a fine substitute to that.  Your gifts will not arrive on time because lets face it the mail room here does not run very efficiently. But this just gives you an opportunity to draw out your special day a little longer as you wait for that email notifying you that you have a package that can be picked up in 3 hours from Madison Union.

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The one and only thing that can not be replaced are the birthday hugs from your family so get them while you are home and don’t take your family for granted when you are able to see them in person.  Just know that you are exactly where you need to be no matter where you come from. Your special day will be different but still just as important. So live it up ya Duke!


Lindsay Browning

a female with a lot to say

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