If there is one point in your life where you will transition through different living situations, it’s while in college. Most students coming from high school have lived with their parents, friends, relatives or in other housing placements where they might have had their own room, shared a room with a sibling or had to sleep on a couch. Then you get to college and you have to share a room with someone you might not know that well, which can be interesting and teach you how to live with another person, but it can also pose challenges for some individuals.
When I first got to school, it was hard adjusting to living in that close proximity to another person, despite having come from a full, chaotic household. Even though my roommate and I got along pretty well, there were little things that make you remember you are in the same room as another person, a stranger, like if they left their side untidy or they snored or had a bad cough. However, it was really comforting to have someone around most of the time and can definitely be beneficial for your social and mental health, especially just moving to college by yourself. During my sophomore year when the pandemic hit, my world, like for many others, was turned upside down knowing I was going to have to move back home. When I left for school, my little sister got my old room, so I was a transient throughout my own home, which wasn’t a problem over breaks, but because I had to live at home full time along with the rest of my family, it was crucial to figure out a more permanent place to reside. At the same time, I had just started to recognize the independence and freedom I had living at school, and while my parents were never strict with my sisters and I, there were still certain expectations of us living at home that I did not have at school. Soon after we were sent home, my family helped me build a room in a loft area upstairs which was very cozy, but I was still ready to move out of the house.
For my junior year, I planned on living in a Circles Apartment with three friends and two people I had never met. I had some hesitations because I had never lived in an apartment with that many people, especially in a pandemic, but as soon as I arrived, we all hit it off. I even developed some of my best friendships in that house. It was nice because there was always something to do with one another whether that was homework, playing basketball, hosting Uno tournaments, watching a scary movie or talking until 5 in the morning. While we did have many enjoyable moments, I will say, living in a house with five people could be hectic at times, and because we were all so close, we often took on each other’s problems. That experience taught me how to be the most vulnerable I have ever been in my life and we truly served as a support network for all the hardships each and every one of us went through that year.
Currently, my living arrangement is a little different. I actually live by myself, which is something I have wanted to do for a while. At first, my parents were not on board with me wanting to live alone because they were worried about my safety and sanity, but after copious conversations, they decided to trust me with my decision. Even my friends were on the fence about me living by myself, asking me “Aren’t you worried about being lonely?,” and my response would be “You don’t have to be by yourself to be lonely.” So far that has been true. It honestly doesn’t phase me living by myself. Luckily for me, I never really am alone because my friends come over all the time to do homework, make dinner or feast on charcuterie boards. Plus my neighbors and I, who are also college students, hang out almost every weekend. One of the most pivotal features about living on your own is the new responsibilities you have. For instance, now it is up to me to make sure I pay my rent on time or talk to the property manager about a problem, and the dishes definitely do not do themselves. Thus far, living alone has been a very positive experience because I have full autonomy over my space and the decisions in my household as well as having some alone time to myself when necessary, and I have been learning how to cook all new recipes to mix up my weekly meals.
While all of my experiences with living situations in college have been vastly different and with people of distinct personalities, the one similarity in all my living situations has been the things I have learned about how other people function and how I function. Ultimately, living with all types of people opened me up to new experiences and the true uniqueness everyone possesses.