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apartment living room
apartment living room
Original photo by Sophia Apteker
Life > Experiences

College Life Off-Campus: Did I Make the Right Decision?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

As a junior at UMass, I have seen it all. My freshman year was spent behind my laptop in the basement of my home. My sophomore was spent on campus at Orchard Hill, which was a wildly different experience than I had envisioned. This fall will be the first semester of me living in an off-campus apartment. I have learned a lot in the first two weeks of school, but there is still so much more to learn.

I found out pretty quickly that living on campus was not right for me. It was very hard for me to separate my life as a student from the rest of my life. Being on campus 24/7 was definitely an adjustment. Managing the stress that came with classes became increasingly difficult while sharing a dorm room on campus; there was no place for me to relax. Managing my stress usually means that I have to distract myself, which I typically do by baking or cooking, taking a bath, or practicing self-care — things that cannot be done in a dorm room that is not attached to a kitchen or full bathroom. Having moved into an apartment where I am able to perform tasks like these has been so beneficial for my mental health. Cooking meals for myself at the end of the day allows me to unpack my stress and gives me comfort and normalcy. 

Although cooking is one of my favorite parts of living off-campus, I have still yet to find an efficient way to buy groceries. I opted out of having a meal plan this semester in an effort to save money and provide myself with an opportunity to improve my cooking skills. However, buying groceries for one person was more difficult than I had anticipated. I have found it easier to buy dry nonperishable foods, like pasta and rice, from wholesale grocery stores where you can buy items in bulk. By doing this, I can make less frequent trips to the grocery store, where I mostly go to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, which I can then portion and freeze. 

Up until now, I never lived with people that I knew. Going into college, I was always advised against living with friends. Many people suggested that by doing so, it will be harder to make friends, and it will be easier to grow apart in my friendships. However, my experiences doing so have been nothing short of great, and I feel a higher sense of comfort. I find it much easier to communicate with my roommates about maintaining the space and making sure that everything is running fair and smoothly. 

Despite everything being great at the apartment, it is a little more inconvenient to get to class. Instead of leaving my dorm 15 minutes before class starts, I have to wake up much earlier to avoid traffic, and I have to walk a farther distance to class due to how far the commuter lots are. I have spent more time at the library in-between classes than I did when I lived on campus, and I pack lunches and snacks with me more often, as I don’t have time to run back and make myself a meal. Making small adjustments to my old routine is something that I know I will continue to do, but living off-campus was definitely the right choice for me.

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Serena Chiasson

U Mass Amherst '24

Serena is a sophomore at UMass Amherst studying biomedical engineering.