What It’s Really like to Stay Home for the Semester

When I first found out that my family needed me to stay home for a semester, my fear of missing out (FOMO) reached an all-time high. How could I leave my Gainesville support system to help out at home? What about all of the hangouts and girl’s nights I would miss out on? Most importantly: How would I focus on my online classes while living in the same space as my adorable dogs?

Spoiler alert: Staying home for a semester isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s helped my mental health more than I expected. Here are six pros and cons of spending the semester at home.

Pro #1: My self-care has improved exponentially.

Being home has reminded me of the familiar comforts that I used to have before I went to college. As an overachiever, I tend to overload my schedule to the point where I don’t have time to eat lunch, let alone spend some time relaxing. Because I don’t feel pressured to pile a lot on my plate (especially because many of my involvements can’t be done at home), I’m able to schedule ample time to relax and wind down. At home, I actually have a wake-up and wind-down ritual that I use every day, which has unexpectedly reduced my anxiety. I will definitely be taking these new routines back to UF with me in the fall semester.

Con #1: It can get pretty isolating.

Though my skin is glowing thanks to my relaxed schedule at home, I tend to really miss hanging out with my friends. I’m a pretty extroverted person, and social interaction is one of my favorite things about college life. Luckily, my friends and I are able to schedule weekly FaceTime hangouts to keep each other up-to-date on life. Aside from virtually socializing with my friends, being home allows me to work at my part-time retail job. At work, I’m able to make money and socialize with my co-workers, making the isolation of a semester at home a little more bearable.

Pro #2: Staying home is cost-effective.

Even though college is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, it’s definitely not cheap. While I’m away at school, I spend so much money on things like rent, eating out, grocery shopping and even laundry. One of the best parts about staying home is the amount of money I’ve saved. Instead of overdrawing my checking account, I’ve actually been able to save enough money (through scholarship reimbursements and a smaller list of bills) for an entire study abroad trip. If I had known taking classes at home for a semester would save me enough money to travel to Italy, I might have pledged to the online student life from the very beginning.

Con #2: Scheduling classes can be tricky.

One of the first things I did after finding out that I needed to stay home was schedule an appointment with my academic advisor. As a second-year student, I was reaching the beginning of my final semester of prerequisite classes, which turned out to be a total bonus for me as many prerequisites are offered online. If you’re an undergraduate who’s approaching their third or fourth years of school, spending a semester at home might not be a feasible option for you. I would suggest meeting with an academic advisor and seeing if the classes you need to take are offered online or if a class with recorded lectures could accommodate you and your needs. You never know what an advisor could do for you until you ask.

Pro #3: Living at home can be both convenient and comforting.

Let’s face it: Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed. Not only that, but with your comfy bed combined with a fully-stocked fridge, free laundry, home-cooked food and pets, living at home can be a total luxury. Consider your semester at home a money-saving staycation. After all, you’ll be back on campus in no time.

Con #3: You may have to kiss your involvements goodbye for now.

If you’re a student who’s guilty of a cluttered schedule, this con could actually be a pro in disguise. Although I wasn’t stoked about putting some of my involvements on hold, some organizations that I’m a part of have actually been super flexible with me staying at home; even allowing me to continue contributing from a remote location. The ability to still continue my involvements has been a total game changer. Flexible organizations remind me that no matter how far away I might be from campus, I’m still a part of the Gator nation at heart.

It turns out that my initial hesitance to work from home for a semester actually transformed into a positive attitude and experience. My mental health has improved as I took a step back from some of my involvements, I was able to keep up with my friends thanks to technology, and I’ve even saved enough money for a month abroad with my college. It’s safe to say that staying home for a semester is nothing like I thought it would be.