Living off campus is great. It’s also really challenging and has changed the way college feels in a lot of ways. The distance isn’t far but it certainly makes the West Quad to North Quad journey seem like inches. In a lot of ways it feels like a job; I go on campus in the morning, do school and go home for meals and to sleep. The freedoms are great but the pseudo-adulting makes me miss the ease of my first three years of school.
The biggest challenge has been cooking for myself. I realize that this makes me sound like a child, but before this year, I was seldom in charge of preparing any meals for myself, except simple recipes. Sure, I picked up some family recipes along the way and helped with dinner sometimes, but there are worlds between that and feeding yourself every meal.This is one challenge that I severely underestimated. I, like many of my friends, dreamed of the days when we would be free to make our own food, unchained from the restrictiveness of a meal plan. I wasn’t thinking about the grocery shopping and preparation that would come before these awesome meals I would be making for myself. It’s been a pretty steep learning curve — a lot of eggs, salads, and sandwiches — but I’m gradually gaining the faculties to effectively feed myself.
Another thing I’ve encountered is a feeling of disconnectedness. Being on campus, so many things, including friends, are always close to you. Being in an apartment, I see my roommate reasonable often, but there’s a sense of being disconnected from a lot of friends who you would normally see, in the dorms or just around campus, and who you now see far less, if at all. While many of my friends are off-campus as well, we’re all scattered throughout the apartment complexes. With that comes concerted effort to keep in touch with those who are important to you. Some of my friends and I have been trying to do a girls’ dinner, rotating apartments and all contributing food, on a semi-regular basis, just to be sure that we’re staying in touch during the week and not only on the weekends. With other friends, it has become a matter of setting coffee dates on campus before or after class to stay caught up. I have a feeling this is what adult friendships are like, but the adjustment to this from having everyone in such close proximity has been a hurdle.
One challenge that I hadn’t considered is the challenge of “home base” being off-campus with regards to productivity. If you’re someone who has no trouble working at home, this will likely not affect you at all. For me, once I’m in my room, all bets are off and I have a really difficult time getting work done. But because I “commute” to school, I generally come home to eat dinner and have a very difficult time making myself leave the comfort of my apartment and go back to campus afterwards. I’ve just had to adjust to making plans regarding where and when I’m going to get everything done and forcing myself to come back to campus at night when I need to be particularly productive.
As I mentioned, despite these challenges, moving off campus was a great choice because it’s forcing me to adult a little bit before leaping into full-scale adulting after graduation. While these challenges have been trying, it’s been really nice to be able to eat what I want and to have more space. Furthermore, it’s been fun to live with friends and to have those additional freedoms that off-campus living allows.