Unless you’re one of the lucky few with an apartment that permits your fuzzy friend, you probably don’t have access to the very best therapy life can provide: pets. Many college students find that leaving their cat or dog behind is the worst kind of homesickness, far more painful that waving to their teary-eyed parents as they drive away. If you find yourself in dire need of some animal love, try the following:
1. Volunteer: Locate your college town’s animal shelter and donate some of your time to helping out. If you’re lucky, the most assistance your shelter needs is someone to show their fuzzy residents some love. (Writing down that you volunteered at an animal shelter doesn’t hurt your resume, either)
2. Pet sit: Check your college’s job posting site or offer your services to a traveling professor. Pet sitting is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to earn money; aside from feeding and cleaning, your job mostly consists of keeping someone’s beloved friend company.
3. Go to the mall: If your local mall has a pet store, ask if you can spend some time playing with their puppies and kittens. You may have to pretend you’re interested in buying, but if that white lie gives you a half hour with some adorable animals, it’s totally worth it.
4. Buy your own: Research your school’s pet policy and see what kinds of animals they actually permit. Most schools don’t allow cats or dogs, but smaller animals like rodents and fish might be acceptable. Some schools even allow pets for residents who can get a heathcare provider’s signature saying that it’s good for their mental health.
5. Host a puppy day: Lots of schools partner with animal shelters during exam week to host a puppy day. Yes, that’s just what it sounds like: a whole afternoon of tiny animals to play with and help you de-stress. If your school doesn’t offer one of these, talk to your Psychology Club or events organization to see if it’s a feasible exam week option.
6. Visit a friend: Find out which of your friends have pets at home and make a point of visiting some weekend. You may need to offer cookies or a free latte in exchange, but it’s definitely a worthy sacrifice.