Living away for university is the closest you’ll get to truly being an adult, while still having a bubble of protection from the outside world – and I recommend that people do it. It teaches you a lot, while still having some form of togetherness. It’s not all fun and games, and the beef between the people you live with can get real. You find out a lot about someone when you live together, and during the ages of 18-21, you’re developing a lot as a person.
I remember when I first went to my flat with my mum, we found my room and she then went back to Birmingham. At this point I thought everyone just did that, and when I saw everyone elses parents stay and check out the university with them, it was very weird. Living away taught me everyones relationships with their parents really vary. I don’t mean in a ‘woe tis me’ kind of way, I’m the oldest girl in a Somali family so I never expect or want to be babied excessively.
You get the people who call their parents every day, ask them for help constantly. Then you get the people (more like me), who sort of just don’t consider calling them for help. It’s a weird one, because like I said earlier, you’re not really an adult at this point. So watching people navigate university and seeing those who rely on their parents still sort of was a culture shock. I never really judged people for this, I found it cute, because even though we were attending lectures and thinking about the future, they would still take the time to call their families.
Another thing I learnt was that not everyone can cook, and we all have different ways of making dishes. I was lucky in my first year, I lived with three other girls and honestly we were a great unit. We cooked together and really enjoyed each others company. Plus we could all cook and showed each other the different ways our cultures made different dishes. When we would go to other flats or speak to other people it hit me, there are actual people living off takeout every single day.
I have no idea if it’s because of my culture, but my mums main condition for letting me live away was learning how to cook. It’s a weird one, but she really wanted to make sure I was eating well, maybe it’s an African thing, but it was her only condition so I learnt quick.
Living away also builds a lot of strong bonds. Since at this point most people are used to having friends, but leaving them when they go home. But if you’re all living close to one another, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME TOGETHER. This can be both good and bad, some do get overwhelmed. Thankfully, I spent a lot of time with people who understood I needed time to recharge, because they were the same.
Cleaning habits are so important with the people you live with, and you will have petty fights over stupid shit which will be escalated through mess. I don’t know what it is, but you’re either messy, or a clean freak – an inbetween is rare for a university student in my experience. So this will cause fights, and you have to learn how to navigate other peoples feelings since some fights can be slept on, but some require communication after.
I remember in second year I lived with someone who was extremeley messy, left food out to rot, and generally just cluttered our kitchen. Since I’m passive aggressive I left notes out and really looking back, I should have just taken the time to speak to her about her mess, but when you live together, your petty side will take over.
One really important thing I learnt was that it’s ok to talk to people about things – this seems basic as hell but it was a vital lesson. Since everyone has something going on in their lives, and assuming that your life is the hardest is how you end up in the pits of depression. So taking the time to open up and talk to people really helps, and you never know, in doing this you could also help someone else. Through my three years I learnt that almost everyone I spoke to had some form of mental health problem, so it’s important to take the time to speak to them, but to also listen to them.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is – girls night outs are really fun. Sorry its a life lesson thats gender specific but honestly they’re so much fun. Whether you go out out or just dance in your kitchen, just taking the time to dance and have fun is something I really recommend everyone should do.
Uni in general is a weird time, you’re technically an adult but mentally you’re no where near being one. So just take the time to have fun and go with the flow. Don’t feel too much pressure to ‘find yourself’, just open yourself to meeting new people, and soak it all in! 🙂