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The brutal reality of what is probably going to be the biggest change in your life so far.
Leaving home is probably the biggest thing to happen in your life so far. You sit your SATs, GCSEs and then your A-Levels; get into the best university in the country (some may say I’m biased, but I disagree); and then – amongst all of that elation – you’re faced with your most significant challenge yet – the reality of leaving home.
For many university students, the furthest away from home they’ve ever been is the corner shop and back to buy some milk. For others – they may have travelled the world and seen the seven wonders. But for both the avid traveller and the home-bird, leaving home has equal amounts of stress and unpredictable realities. So, using the wisdom I have accumulated having gone through the whole process myself, I’m going to tell you some of the hidden truths about living away from home (Disclaimer: they’re not all that bad!)
Your diet might not be as consistently bad as you think.
Okay, this one might have a few people shaking their heads because their diet is on the ropes, but hear me out. Whether you’re a junior Masterchef champion or if you struggle to so much as boil an egg, ready meals DO become your best friend. They do. With shops dotted all across campus and a 2-minute stint in the microwave, ready meals are perfect after a day of lectures. But I’ll tell you now; there’s only so much Co-op mac and cheese that you can eat in a week. The same rule applies for pizza and chips; believe me, I know how easy it is to nip into Pizzetta or Sultans on the way back home. I’m pretty sure that those places have developed magnets that attract students. However, after a while of consuming all the grease, fat, and other bad stuff takes its toll on your insides – there’ll be nothing that you want more than a nice, healthy, home-cooked meal.
The washing doesn’t do itself.
Unfortunately, moving out doesn’t only mean all of the freedom to do whatever you like; it also means all of the chores that have most probably always been done by your parents. For me, I know that at home there must have been a magic washing fairy because all I needed to do was put all of my dirty clothes into a pile and they would disappear, only to come back all fresh and clean a few days later. As soon as you leave home, that pile never seems to vanish. Moreover, it just keeps growing until you inevitably run out of clean socks. And figuring out how to use the Circuit washing machines… well, that takes a rocket scientist.
Everything is SO EXPENSIVE!
Within a few weeks, you soon feel sorry for your parents having to buy a new bubble bath every week, if you were like me and used to waste bottle after bottle on making ‘potions’. Washing powder, cleaning products and shower essentials cost a whole load more than you’d think. You spend half of your budget on things that are mega boring, but essential. Food, too! Who knew eating would cost so much! Okay, so those who meal plan and have their lives together might save a bit of money here. Realistically, how many of us sustainably do that? Popping to the shop to cook as you go really does add up! Maybe those ready meals don’t sound too bad after all…
You have to adapt to all kinds of new people.
And believe me, it’s hard. At home, you’ve likely had 18 (-ish) years of the same people, the same routine, the same way of doing things. But as soon as you reach university accommodation, with communal spaces used by anywhere between 5 and 11 other people, you soon realise that not everyone does things the same way. Not everybody washes up their dishes; not everybody is even house-trained! Your flatmates may be particularly great and not leave a mess anywhere. However, a lot of us are stuck with flatmates that are far from tidy and working with this can be more infuriating than anything in the history of ever! There’s always that one nightmare flatmate, and if you don’t seem to have one, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news…
You get to go home
No matter how much you detest or love home, and no matter how many times you visit, each time is as sweet at the last. Seeing those old school friends who you haven’t seen in weeks or even months, and turning up with all of the gossips you’ve both collected – there’s nothing quite like it. Driving on the roads you are so familiar with or watching movies with your loved ones; it’s almost so much sweeter. Even if, like me, your siblings drive you up the wall, or if your parents wake you up at the ungodly hours, it’s just the best thing being in a place you recognise, with people you love, doing the things that you’ve missed.
Leaving home is probably the biggest thing that you’ll experience. It sounds so easy, but in reality – it shifts your whole world upside down. It makes the familiar, unfamiliar. It makes you adapt in ways you once thought impossible, makes you grow and change into someone completely new. But coming to university isn’t all bad; moving out means meeting your flatmates, possibly the people that will be your friends for life. It means learning about other cultures and having the freedom to do whatever you want.
Moving out isn’t easy, and there’s no rulebook. You make your way, and do it the way that suits you. The only rule you need to follow is to enjoy it and, for the love of God, don’t leave your saucepan to soak in the sink for a week.