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Adjusting to Life as a First Time Off Campus Student

My college experience, like for the large majority of us, has been anything but normal. With not even one full year of living in the dorms, moving off campus now as a junior was a pretty daunting thought. My friends and I secured a house last October during our semester at home to ensure that we would finally have a sense of security and stability no matter the circumstances by the time this semester rolled around. 

While living off-campus surely has its pros, I initially felt a bit strange having to drive back home after my classes and work were done for the day. Before, UMass itself was my home, but now, Amherst as a whole has become my home. I remember as a freshman I finally left campus and went to the store after only being at college for about a week. Though it had only been a short period of time, I felt so odd being out of my little UMass bubble. It was so strange to leave campus and see people existing that weren’t college students. Thinking about that phenomenon is so strange now that I have become accustomed to and comfortable with the area. 

Though I love the vastness of a house compared to a dorm, I do miss the chaotic nature of living in a large building with a bunch of other kids. I miss the nights where my friends and I would roam the halls and knock on random doors in hopes of making new friends or at the very least getting a good laugh. I also miss being within walking distance of everyone that I love. Even though all of my friends and I all live in about a 10-15 minute radius from each other, I do miss being able to send a quick, “come to my room!” text and having them arrive in seconds. However, I am grateful for my wonderful roommates who I can still do that with. 

I will say, I think that the biggest adjustment thus far has been with dining. Freshman year, I literally lived at Frank. I would eat there, do homework there, wait for my friends to get out of their classes and sit with them for another additional hour and then do the same thing all over again. Frank was home. But now, with limited swipes, this can sadly no longer be my reality. I consider eating dinner with your friends to be a very important bonding experience. So even though I can no longer claim a table at Frank as my second dorm room, it usually just consists of a single “who wants food” text in the group chat and a wild goose chase to find someone else who is still on campus to make Frank feel just as whole as it did before. 

It has only been a month since I moved in and my new home is already being filled with memories I know I won’t forget. I love filling my living room with friends for parties and making 3 a.m. bagels with my roommates and yet somehow also having to be responsible for things like setting mouse traps (yes, my house sadly has mice) and paying bills – it creates a weird balance of the careless fun I am used to and a wake-up call to adulthood. Living on campus was fun while it lasted, but I am excited for this new chapter of college life and what it will bring.

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Kately Martin

U Mass Amherst '23

Kately is junior at UMass Amherst studying Special Education and Anthropology. In her free time, you can find Kately working at Marylou’s Coffee to supplement her caffeine addiction. Kately also works part time at a day program for adults with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities as well as being the Best Buddies President here at UMass! In addition Her Campus, she enjoys running/lifting, hanging out with friends, and journaling!
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