Thinking back to when I was a pre-teen, I would have been ecstatic at the idea of leaving home as soon as I turned 18.
The end of adolescence meant one thing only for me, and that was adulthood. Buying a house, getting married, having kids; all those things seemed normal to me as soon as you hit 18.
Yet, now I’m 20 and I still don’t consider myself as a fully-fledged adult…
But, for a lot of people, turning 18 means university is just around the corner; and that is a whole new ball game itself.
Initially it really didn’t concern me, but in those last few weeks leading up to September 2015, it dawned on me that I really didn’t know how to survive on my own.
Still, my bags were packed, and off I went, out of my hometown by myself for the first time in nearly two decades.
3 years later and, believe it or not, I’m still standing, full of wisdom to share with you just exactly how I survived leaving home at 18.
Here are just a few of the ways that persevered through the weird and wonderful experience that is university:
Plan, plan, plan
Living off of Pot Noodles for the first week of university may just seem like the average student experience, but it’s not. Most people know how to cook at least one basic meal, and you should too! And no, that does not include shoving a ready meal into the oven…
I wish that I’d have known this before I started university, because boy did I look like a novice.
To get out of this situation, all I would have had to do was spend a couple of hours searching and compiling a list of recipes that were easy enough for an ameteur, like myself. It could have saved me so much money (and stomach pains) those first few weeks.
Learn how to budget
Fortunately, I believe that I am a sensible enough person not to just throw my money away at useless crap that I didn’t need. But, it seemed roughly 60% of my first year companions thought that this was the norm.
Your overdraft’s purpose isn’t to solely provide for you when you’ve spent too much on a night out.
Just calculate how much money you have to live off per week, and stick to it! I’ve done this for the past 3 years and I’ve never once gone into, or near my overdraft.
Don’t stress over friends
One of the biggest worries for me when I left home at 18 was ‘how am I going to make friends?’
Yes, it’s easy enough when you’re 12 and love the same movie star, but how do adults make friends? What do I talk about? What if they all hate me?
Stop. Breathe. Relax. It’s a hell of a lot easier than you expect. Whether you get talking to your flatmate, a coursemate, or someone you meet on a night out; friendship at uni comes naturally, and there’s absolutely no need to stress out about it. It’s not the first friendship you make, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Create a home from home
Homesickness is a major threat that strikes at university, and majority of people deal with it at some point. The smallest of things can trigger this; missing your mum’s cooking, wanting to see your pet, or thinking about those stupid arguments you have with your sibling.
I got this aching feeling really bad during my first semester at university, and it even lead my mind to thinking about dropping out. But I reassured myself that the feeling was only temporary, and that it can’t only be me that feels this way.
Instead, I learned to stop missing home and start appreciating it. When my parents next visited, I asked them to bring my favourite sentimental picture with them to remind me that home is never really that far away.
Keep yourself busy
Alternatively, if you find that homesickness is inescapable, a good way to deal with it is to keep your mind occupied. At university there is so much to do; especially if you travel to a different city for your education.
It’s a whole new place to explore, you can try out local food, see what the nightlife is like, and discover the history of this whole new city. Universities understand that students are seeking entertainment, and most student union’s will put on a variety of leisure activities throughout the year. Yet, don’t get too caught up in the whirlwind that is university and forget about the people who helped you get there.
It’s just as important to stay connected with your home too.
Beware of FOMO
Fear Of Missing Out, to use its full title, is not necessarily a good thing at university. 3 years ago, people encouraged me to take part in everything I could at uni, “It’ll be the best time of your life”, is a phrase I’ve hear over a hundred times. And, that’s all good fun until you realise that is comes out of your own bank account.
In my first year, I really didn’t want to miss out on anything, but it took me a while to realise that my financial background couldn’t really provide that for me.
Instead, I learnt to take a step back and understand that I wasn’t missing out on anything. Not only did this help my bank account, but it also helped helped my state of mind.
What the most important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. And I wish someone had told me that before I went to university because it would have saved me a lot of stress in those first few months.
But if things do start to get a little too much, hopefully these tips will help you, and remember there’s at least one person that feels the exact same way. You are not alone.
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