The typical college student lives on campus for more than one year, so while my time in a dorm room was briefer than most, I look back on it with (mostly) fond memories. Living off campus is a whole different ballgame.
You’re 100% responsible for 100% of the things that need to get done, be purchased, and get cleaned. Only a month into off-campus living, I’ve already learned a few key things about life in the real world.
1. Grocery shopping is only fun when you have the dining hall as a backup.
No matter how many lists you make, you’ll likely forget an integral part of whatever you were hoping to cook that night. And instead of running to the dining hall, you’ll instead have to get back in your car and go back to the store or, if you’re like me, eat toast and peanut butter for dinner for the third night in a row. Oops.
2. Parking on campus is HELL.
They seriously need to stop letting so many students in or build another parking lot, okay, maybe several more parking lots. I spend almost as much time finding a parking spot and trekking to class as I do actually sitting in the class!! This is never a problem living on campus because even if you have a car at school, you don’t move it unless you’re leaving campus.
3. Not having an RA is seriously the best thing ever.
No one yells at you for laughing your ass off at 2 in the morning when you and your roommates are all in the kitchen cooking because no one can sleep. No one tells you that you can’t play music in the shower before 10 am. And you don’t have to tiptoe past your RA’s room when you and your friends come home drunk at 4 am.
4. No matter how cute your dorm room was, it could never be as cute and cozy as coming home to your own apartment/room.
There’s just such a different feeling when you open the door to an apartment versus a dorm room. Maybe it’s just the fact that you’re off campus. Maybe it’s because you also have a living room and a kitchen to call yours. Maybe it’s because you can close your bedroom door and be in a space that’s for you and you only. Your dorm room is most likely musty, poorly lit, and approximately the size of a shoe box. You can only feel so homey in a place like that.
5. All your on-campus friends will still be your friends, it just takes a little extra effort.
Things are a little bit harder now. You can’t just roll out of bed in your pajamas and meet your friends at the dining hall, or meet in their rooms before classes. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see or hear from them just as often. Before moving off campus you look for any reason to leave campus, but after your dorm living days are over you’ll probably find yourself looking for reasons to stay and hang out for a few extra hours.
When I signed an off-campus lease I swore I wouldn’t miss the dining halls, the communal bathrooms, and the crappy laundry room. But those dingy dorm halls with always hold a special place in my heart.