Living Off-Campus Has Been One Of Most Defining Moments Of My Freshman Year

Living Off-Campus Has Been One Of Most Defining Moments Of My Freshman Year

Live alone, explore, and be enlightened.


Before I left for college, I knew that I wanted to live off-campus but I feared that I would be missing out on one of the most defining features of freshman year: dorm life. Before classes officially began, I moved all of my belongings into my new apartment and felt excited but incredibly overwhelmed. Doubt-filled questions cluttered my mind: "how am I going to make friends" and "what am I going to eat?" I am not going to lie, seeing pictures of my friends and their new roommates flooding Instagram stung a bit.

However, after the first few days of being in my new place, I felt a sense of comfort and belonging. Growing up as an only child, I knew that I operated best when I was confined to my own space. One of my other fears, not being able to make friends, quickly dissipated as I ventured out of my place and into the heart of Gainesville. I eventually got involved with a political campaign and UF's TEA literary magazine. This is where I found all of my closest friends and I wouldn't have found them if I didn't have this fear of missing out in the first place.

Living off-campus also forced me to learn the city I reside within. Now, I am proud to say that I know Gainesville better than any of my friends, especially the ones living on-campus. At least to me, I have found that a lot of people are not familiar with anything surpassing University and 13th Street. There is so much more to Gainesville than midtown, campus, downtown, and Butler Plaza.

Photographed at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida. Photographed by Darby Webb.

In addition to meeting new people and discovering new places, I was also able to discover myself. Living alone has shown me who I am as an individual. While I did not discover too many new, groundbreaking traits, I did find out much more about how I operate in terms of school, work, and play. I have discovered that I am more of a homebody and introvert than I once thought. I absolutely recommend living alone at some point in your college career. Living alone will open your eyes and allow you to see a different part of yourself that was once hidden before. Adopting new ways of thinking requires adopting new ways of living.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.

College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.


Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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