Living on your own: For the first time!

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So now you have just started studying (or have been studying for a while) you want a place of your own. For probably the first time you are going to be living apart from your parents or guardians. This can be very exciting and fun, but also a bit scary. You’re living without authority figures for the first time, so you have to make your own set of rules and you have to organise your life all on your own. For some people this will go over very easy and smoothly, for others not so much… I’ve been living out of my parents house now for five years and I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have gained a lot of experience with living independently of my parents. In this article I would like to share my own tips for living on your own, to make your experience a little easier.

  • Pick your roommates wisely: always be careful with picking your potential roommates, even if you’re friends with them. Try and think realistically ‘would I want to live together with this person?’ Because casually hanging out with someone and living together are two totally different things. Try to figure out the core values you’re looking for in a roommate (like cleanliness or sociability) and check if your potential roommates match those. But remember that nobody is perfect.
  • Be considerate towards your roommates: when you’ve found the right roommates, don’t forget to be thoughtful towards them too. Don’t leave your dirty dishes all over the kitchen and leave a clean bathroom when you’re done using it. This might all sound obvious, but forgetting about these things is easy, and it avoids a lot of frustration if you clean your messes.
  • Write down your schedule: when you’re away from your family, there’s nobody to keep track of your schedule for you and nobody to remind you of important deadlines. I found it really helpful to write down all my meetings and deadlines, even recreational ones like hanging out with friends. It might be tedious, but you’ll keep track of everything. If you’re a scatterbrain like me who sometimes loses their schedule, I’d suggest Google Calendar or other digital planning software. That way you always have access to your schedule (if you have internet..)
  • Schedule in time to clean: don’t forget to schedule in time to clean in your planner! I didn’t do this for a long time, as a result I viewed other things I had to do as more important and kept postponing cleaning my room. This way, when you finally get to the cleaning, it will be much more work because all the cleaning work piled up. Now that I actively plan my cleaning each week it’s much less work and I’m done way faster. It’s also less gross..
  • Learn how to cook: if you don’t already know how to cook simple meals, I personally would start practicing as soon as possible. Cooking your own meals is way cheaper and healthier than take-out, and a diet of mostly McDonalds, Burger King and KFC get boring after a few months. Try searching for some student recipes either in cook books or online. There’s some very nice and simple recipes on this website!
  • Always keep your keys in the same place: when all your roommates are away for the weekend and you come home to your rooms closed door only to find out you left your keys inside you’re going to wish you were more precise with them. Trust me. If possible, hand out a spare key to a person you trust who lives in the neighborhood. Because even when you are careful with keeping your keys, accidents can happen and you don’t want to be locked out for a long time. It sucks.
  • Get to know your new neighborhood: this means to not only get to know the fastest way to the nearby grocery shop or mall, but also find out where there’s a doctor’s office nearby, or where you can go to the dentist. I waited with finding a new doctor until I was sick and that was a pain. I had to search for information and get paperwork done while I was feeling awful, which was an unpleasant experience. Same goes for my dentist, I waited with finding a new dentist until I had to get work done on my teeth. Save yourself the trouble and find out where all the convenient spots are in your neighborhood, by yourself or with some help of your roommates.
  • Take care of yourself: this sounds obvious, but when you’re very busy studying for a big exam it can be easy to lose track of your bodies needs. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, eat regular meals, take your (potential) medication, sleep and keep track of your personal hygiene.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: if you don’t know what to do in a new situation, don’t be scared to ask for help! You can ask this from either your family, friends or the internet. There’s no shame in asking how to do ‘basic’ stuff, we all have to start somewhere.
  • Enjoy!! don’t forget to enjoy your time as a student living on your own! It’s great to feel independent and you should try to have fun with it.

By Mijntje Boon

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