The fall semester will be here before we know it and these next few months can be used to help prepare for starting your college experience off right. It’s normal to be nervous about living on your own for the first time but there are things you can do to help your prepare for taking the next big step in your life. Don’t stress out too much though because it gets a lot easier as you go! There’s some tips and things to keep in mind before diving into this next school year, but keep in mind these are ones that worked for me so don’t be afraid to alter them to your lifestyle! It might take a while to figure out what works best for you when you are on your own but it’s time for personal growth.
1. Get prepared and organized
The summer before my freshmen year of college was spent preparing for living on my own. I wasn’t living on campus, but the steps I took work for both off an on campus living. I am super organized and love planning things out so I made lists of everything I needed to get. It’s easier to know what you need a while in advance instead of trying to collect things last minute! Since I was the last sibling to move out, my mom already knew what I would need. We knew the basics living essentials that I needed (shampoo, laundry detergent, etc) but we needed to plan for what else I needed to move into my apartment like bedding. For living in the dorms check with your school because some offer different packages for bedding and also dorm beds are typically need a different size sheet than normal beds. Also, when living in a dorm you’ll most likely need things like a microwave, mini fridge and fans. Check with your roommate to see what they have before buying the same thing!
2. Learn how to live on your own
Before I could move out I needed to learn some basic living things. Most of you might already know how to do these things but they definitely need to be something you have mastered! I had to have my mom teach me how to do laundry, cook and properly clean. I knew the basics but I would soon be living on my own and needed to be able to do it without help. Laundry is something you’ll have to do constantly unless you want to save it up until you visit home next but I wouldn’t suggest this. Trust me, it’s difficult to lug all that home. Dorms have kitchenettes either in every hall or even in the rooms themselves if you live in a larger dorm setting.
Not only will you have to prepare food for yourself, you’ll also have to clean up after yourself. You are sharing this kitchen space with everyone so you have to keep it at its best! If you’re in the dorms you’ll have the dining halls to eat meals in but you might not always make it due to homework or classes. When you get sick of the food you can cook something up yourself.
3. Be prepared to be homesick
Even though you’re ready to move onto the next step of your life and leave home, you will miss it. I was born and raised in my town and was itching to get out. After just a few hours of being alone in my apartment I realized how homesick I was. I was used to having all of my friends and family in the same town and being able to see them whenever I wanted. To help my homesickness I brought my favorite things from my old room with me to make my room feel more comfortable. This will be more difficult in dorms because of the size so bring littler things like trinkets or stuffed animals that remind you of being home. Another thing I did was call my mom every night just to talk to her. I still talk to her every day but now that it’s been three years on my own it isn’t just because of being homesick.
Unlike most freshmen, my hometown is only a little over a hour from my college. My first year I spent every free day I could at home so I could see my friends and family. After that summer I realized I needed to spend more time in my college’s town with the new friends I have made. Freshmen usually can’t go home unless it is a vacation or holiday, so being homesick is part of the experience. Figure out what helps you and don’t worry since you’re not the only one who feels the same way!
4. Create a lifestyle for yourself
It’s tempting to stay up all night and eat ice cream for breakfast once you’re on your own and have no one to tell you what to do. One of the hardest parts of living on your own is managing your life and staying organized. You’re going to have to budget your money, balance your time wisely and try to be healthy which can definitely be difficult in college. If you get into a routine early on it will allow yourself to follow it easily. If you start the semester off without a regular sleep schedule it will be hard to break it. There will be those nights that you’re up late cramming for an exam the next day but if you plan out your time well you can still do everything you need to and go to bed at a reasonable time.
There will also be times where you won’t have time to exercise or make a healthy snack. If you figure out what routine works best with your classes before you get too far into the semester and find it difficult to switch your day to day life. Another thing you’ll have to keep in mind is balancing your school and social life. I’m not telling you to only focus on school and do homework every waking moment, but you need to create a reasonable balance between the two. College is where you’ll make life long friends and get to experience new things. Stay safe and smart and create an organized and happy life while living on your own!
I have always found it helpful to use the resources around me to help get adjusted to living on my own. I have multiple apps on my phone for organization, lists, recipes, tips and motivation. Since they are on my phone I will see them many times a day. Also, using on campus resources such as learning centers and advisers will help you whenever you need help. Resources like this can help you set up a study schedule, become comfortable living on your own and keep you on track with your routines. Create friendships with people in your hall in the dorms and in your major so you always have a familiar face to keep you going throughout the day. They can also share some of their tips to living on their own .
There are plenty of other things that you will learn as you live on your own. Everybody’s experience is different and not everything works for each person. There are some days you’ll feel great and others that you will feel confused or nervous. Living on your own for the first time is scary for everyone so don’t feel alone! You’ll figure out what works best for you as the year goes on but don’t be afraid to ask for help or try new things. It is a fun and exciting new experience so go into it with an open mind.