Moving off campus is a major stepping stone in one’s college career. For most, it’s the first time living in the absence of any authority, whether that be a parent or an RA. This preconceived idyllic bliss, however, is shaken with a quick, frightening glance into the “real world.” From bills to buses, here’s what you should expect before you break free from the chains of dorm life.
Your dorm room may not be air-conditioned or more than four feet wide in any direction, but it is a blessing that you can get up from your bed and make it to class in 10 minutes. While rolling out of your uncomfortably elevated twin bed was challenging, living off campus leads you to ponder a new series of questions.
You’ll wonder, “Why is my trash can eternally full?” “What sort of vendetta does the bus driver have to pull away from me as I am quite literally a foot from the door?” and “How can I possibly muster up the energy to cook a relatively healthy meal for myself after coming home at 11 p.m. to a pantry that has three items in it?”
Living off campus, most likely apart from your parents or any regulation for the first time, comes with a new set of unforeseen challenges. The day will start and end much later. When your alarm jolts you awake, it takes more willpower to force yourself to go to a class that takes a significant amount of effort to travel to. You’ll find yourself making additional excuses as to why going to class is a useless waste of time that you could spend catching up on homework, reading or sleep instead.
If you end up finding yourself making the noble decision to embark on the trek to your lecture, you have to time your bus ride perfectly.
Bussing at night or on the weekends is a new kind of beast. You realize as you scroll through the BT website in search of any bus coming remotely soon just how convenient living on campus was. Coordination of your schedule and BT’s poses itself necessary upon noticing that your barren pantry might be replenished by means of Kroger. Your weekly shopping trip makes you realize not only the importance of a grocery list, but just how expensive food is. You may catch yourself reminiscing about the days when the nation’s best college food was truly right outside your dorm room whenever you wanted it (shoutout to DX after hours).
Groceries, the monthly rent and utilities are expenses that make your stomach drop every time you receive an email reminding you of your upcoming payment. When you’re shelling out cash for electricity, you become extremely conscious anytime a single light is unnecessarily left on . In a sense, your electricity bill will turn you into quite the green thumb, so that may be a benefit in disguise.
Beyond your newfound responsibilities, living alone and the ultimate realization that you are technically an adult despite how much you don’t feel like one, living off campus might mean that you can spend every minute with your best friends. There is the occasional, unfortunate case in which live with those people you thought were going to be your very best friends at the beginning of freshman year only for you to stop talking to them immediately after signing your lease.
If you are one of the lucky ones, however, living in the company of your closest friends with the ability to bathe in a normal-sized shower without shoes on means off-campus living is astronomically better than dorm life. Not having to climb into bed every night and being able to sit on a couch that isn’t covered in mysterious stains in your dorm’s lounge is a comfort like no other.
Living in an apartment certainly lives up to the expectations and dreams you had freshman year whilst you complained about quiet hours, RA’s, the lack of air conditioning and conduct referrals. Nevertheless, you might want a level set of expectations if you believe off-campus living will be all bliss; this freedom comes at a cost — literally.