It was the summer of 2013, I had just graduated high school and was ready to start my new life as a university student. I was so excited to be living away from home for the first time and experiencing what it would be like to make all of my own choices without requiring permission from my parents such as going out late, eating whatever I wanted, hanging out with my friends, and other typical activities teenagers liked to do. I think a lot of students can relate to the sentiment of living as their own person for the first time and truly figuring out who they are outside of high school and their respective towns. I for one was ready to dive into the full university experience, knowing I was living with a couple of friends from high school, I wasn't too worried about living arrangements.
It was myself and three other girls living in a suite divided into four small rooms with a small kitchen, dining area, and living space with two bathrooms. I have to say we got pretty lucky with our living arrangement, as we never went through the experiences of sharing communal bathrooms or living off a meal plan exclusively since we had a kitchen. We were also in a fairly new dorm so it was cleaner, but also one of the few that included A/C so we could stay cool during the first few weeks of September. I thoroughly enjoyed the space and was grateful we got the privacy that other dorms didn't exactly have, but there were definitely a few downsides to the dorm as well.
1) Privacy - I know I stated this as a positive, as it was more quiet than other dorms available at the university, but it also took away from the socialization aspect of the "college experience". To elaborate, each room in our building was its own suite, meaning that you were mostly surrounded by the other three roommates that you had. Unless you actually made an effort to go out and meet the other people living on the floor... you were pretty isolated. Sadly for us, most of the people on our floor kept to themselves, so we didn't get much of a chance to make new friends.
2) THIN WALLS - As someone who is a light sleeper, accustomed to the quiet suburban lifestyle with minimum noises and distractions at night... let's just say I didn't sleep much for the first couple of months.
3) Chores - Splitting up chores is not always easy when it comes to living with a new group of people. Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations about how someone might be slacking in one department, or how you feel like you're doing most of the work. To be honest, I was guilty of slacking in some of my duties as well. University is hard and your schedule gets turned upside down when you have to balance not only your studies, but also cooking for yourself, cleaning, grocery shopping, and finding time to unwind and enjoy the hobbies and extra curricular activities you like to do. My only advice is give yourself time to adjust and hopefully you can figure out a routine that works for you!
Those are just some of my experiences living away from home from the first time. Although it wasn't perfect, I still had a great time in first year learning how to live on my own and meeting a lot of new friends in the process. It taught me how to be more independent, balance my schedule, and figure out how to communicate with others about things that bothered me. Living OFF campus is a whole other area I will get into for another post.