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This past summer, I had an internship in New York City. Coming from New Jersey, I was already pretty familiar with the city–so living by myself in Manhattan was a total dream come true! I had a cute little apartment in Chelsea, in a cute little neighborhood with lots of restaurants, museums, and stores, where I was able to commute easily to work everyday. I thought that since I go to school so far from home, living alone wouldn’t be very different… but I was wrong. 

Here are some of the things I wish I knew about living all by myself for the first time.

For once, you’ll wish for a roommate

Living all alone is extremely lonesome. You come home to an empty apartment after a long day at work. At college, I’m so used to having someone to talk to at all times–your roommate, aka your emotional therapist that you rant to about everything–isn’t there anymore. Even though everybody says having a roommate sucks at some point during the semester, for the first time in my life I was so desperate to have one.

You will be calling your mom A LOT

Along the lines of being lonely af, you will be calling your mom constantly, believe me. From just wanting to chat about your day, to asking for cooking instructions (“is it safe to put the lid on the pot while cooking salmon?”) your mom will always be there for you. Frankly, she was probably in the exact same situation you were in when she was living alone in her twenties!

Trader Joe’s will be your best friend

And I mean any supermarket with healthy choice easy meals. For me, Trader Joe’s was the right choice because of the tasty, ready-to-eat, yet very healthy products. For cooking beginners, definitely check it out!

You’ll discover new hobbies

Living alone means that you have a lot more time for yourself–take the time to find a new hobby! For me, I really enjoyed painting and embroidering, skills that I never thought I’d be able to learn. Having the alone time to do whatever you want is super rewarding (and also avoid judgement from a roommate!)

Commuting takes longer than you think

Colby students are all spoiled in that we literally only have a 5 minute commute to class–max. If you’re in an urban area like me, public transportation takes a lot of time and planning, more so than you’d expect. Give yourself extra time to prepare for the unexpected (train delays, traffic, etc.)

Don’t look at your credit card bills (actually, you probably should)

Ah yes. Hate to break it to you but you will be officially broke. Nevermind the rent and other utility bills, but grocery costs, transportation, going out to restaurants and bars will be so much more expensive than living in Waterville. So budgeting is super important–what I did was log every major purchase into an Excel sheet to track how much I was spending. 

Discovering secret spots in your new neighborhood

Instead of cooping up in your apartment, take the time to explore your new surroundings! From coffee shops to quaint little stores, explore the places that only locals know so that you feel more comfortable around your new neighborhood. A good way to do this is by taking a walk or jog around your neighborhood to scout out any cute places you want to check out!

It’s not weird to ask for help 

You’re in a new environment, so obviously you will be needing tons of help adjusting. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! For me, there were tons of Colby students and recent grads living in New York City, so I took advantage of that by reaching out to various people to meet up. If you’re lucky, they can introduce you to their friends so that you can expand your new social circle. 

Remember, everyone started out just like you–you may feel like you’re all alone taking on big responsibilities of adulting 101, but trust me, you’re not alone!

I am a senior at Colby studying Art History and Global Studies. I love talking about art, coffee, and books! At Colby, I'm a barista at Mary Low Coffee House, a member of Asian Student Association, co-chair of Museum Student Advisory Board, and Colby Dancers. So happy to be a part of the HerCampus family!
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