Although we all count down the days till move-in, we don’t realize that while this is one of the most liberating experiences ever, it is also the scariest. If you’re like me, you’re probably anxious after having been babied all 18 years of your life so get ready for the ride.
1. You have to go get your own food.
Coming from my family, my mom always brings home food, takes me out to dinner or cooks. When you get to college, your mom isn’t there, which means no food at the snap of a finger. You have to go to the dining halls or pay with your own money to get food. And the scariest part? You have to get up and walk to get your own food. THE HORROR. So my advice here is this: don’t get McDonald’s every night. Stay healthy; we don’t want to gain the “freshman 15”!
2. You have to do your own laundry.
Oh, the agony. We all love when our mom would simply take our piles of dirty laundry and wash it for us. Now, they expect us to just wash it all ourselves. IN A LAUNDROMAT? And get this: we have to buy our own detergent. I can’t even, can you? Try to start doing loads of laundry now, that way, when you get to college, you’ll know what you’re doing.
3. You have to go get your own groceries.
Bask in the good old days before you move. Right now, in this moment, you’re probably on your couch, eating Cool Ranch Doritos from a bag you found in your pantry. Later, you’ll probably use shampoo that your mom brought home from the drugstore. Sure, when you move in, you’ll get snacks and essentials for your dorm. But once you eat that last pack of Welch’s fruit snacks or use that last pump of soap, you’re going to have to go shop by yourself. And now, college has turned you into a mom. When you go grocery shopping, remember this: get what you absolutely, 100 percent need. If you don’t need fruit rollups, they can wait. Get the essentials such as water, snacks, shampoo and deodorant.
4. You technically don’t live at home anymore.
Even though we constantly say, “I can’t wait to move in,” it’s actually like a new season of American Horror Story. Seriously, American Horror Story: College. Think of how weird moving to college is when you put it in the following terms: you leave the home you’ve grown up in to go live alone with a stranger in a building in order to learn. If that doesn’t scare you, then I don’t know what will. To cope with this, make your dorm resemble home as much as possible and if you get homesick, don’t be afraid to admit it and call your parents. It happens to the best of us and no one will judge!
5. You will be living with a stranger for the next year.
Sure, you might meet them over Facebook, but who are they really? We’ve seen Catfish, where a 22-year-old girl named Jessica turns out to be a 47-year-old man named William. We’ve also seen The Roommate, where that poor girl gets trapped with an obsessive killer roommate. And if you’re going with a random roommate, buckle up. You’re going to be living with someone you have never met before and who knows what they are. Here’s some advice: you can survive — you just have to live with them. There is no rule that states that you have to be best buds with your roomie.
6. It’s up to you to balance work and play.
Cover your eyes; you have to make your own decisions. Yes, you heard that right. Who in their right mind would ever let any of us choose for ourselves? With this in mind, it’s complete freedom for us, where we can decide when we go to sleep, how much we eat, whether or not we go to class and when we go out. So come the end of the semester, these decisions could lead us to our downfalls, where we could possibly fail out the first semester, eat too much and never sleep. Oh well, YOLO, right? My advice? Never be afraid to ask yourself what your parents would think and always make the right choice, which will not always be the fun choice.
7. Two words: communal bathrooms.
Yep. By now, you’re probably under a blanket, cringing. With college comes the tough life, one where you no longer have your own personal bathroom. You have to share with the rest of the floor, meaning that your privacy will be reduced drastically. That’s right, no more 20-minute showers where you sing and pretend you’re on "American Idol." My take on this is to cope with it. When you have to go to the bathroom, use it whenever you need to for the first week, but after that, find times that the communal bathrooms aren’t as full and readjust your schedule.
8. It’s your job now to deal with people.
My mom would send an average of four emails per year to teachers or the principal when I was having trouble in my classes. Now, it’s your turn. If you miss class, you are the one who has to email your professor. If you don’t like something, it’s your job to fix it. Let’s face it, we’re not babies anymore and mom and dad aren’t there to help you. My advice here is to become more comfortable with talking to people, even if you aren’t the most outgoing. If you simply learn to confront someone when tasked with an issue, it will make communicating with professors and other students much easier.
9. You handle your own money.
You have money to spend at college for food, groceries and personal needs. Then again, that money is yours and you can use it any way you want to. Maybe you see a really cute shirt online that you want, but you also ran out of dining hall points? The choice is yours, grasshopper. You need to learn to use your money wisely. Remember that things you want will always be waiting in the wings, but things you need are for there and now and eventually, they will help you reach the times where you can get what you want. Hang in there and only invest in what you need.
10. You’ll have to get a job.
A lot of people going into college may already work, but many don’t. To make it through college, you obviously need brains, but you also need some extra money. In order to get some more money, you will need to find a job, meaning that some people who have never worked a day in their life will have to enter the workforce. Horrifying, I know. We have to work, too, while getting an education? If you want my take on it, find a job that you really love and feel enthusiastic about. That way, if you love your job, it won’t feel like work. And to anyone working a job that they hate, you’re in the wrong field. Go find something you love and make it work!
11. You have to take care of yourself when you’re sick.
Not feeling well? No chicken soup from mom. You have to go to the school’s wellness center by yourself to get help. It’s scary to think that you’ll have to take care of yourself, but it’ll teach you skills about self-help and make you more independent. Hopefully we all avoid getting sick like the plague (get it?), but worst-case scenario, you have to learn to take care of yourself when you have the flu. Go to a doctor if you’re ever sick!
12. You will be far away from your best friends.
Yes, you may be a long way from your true best friend when you go to different colleges, but when you head to school, you’ll lose a best friend for the time being: your mom or dad. For me, my mom and I are attached at the hip. She’s always there for you if you need to cry, talk, eat coffee ice cream or watch Netflix. Now that you’re at college, you’ll have to find another friend to confide in. On the bright side, you have the Netflix to yourself and the choice of movie is completely up to you.
13. You are a tiny fish in an OCEAN.
We’ve all heard the saying, “small fish in a big pond.” Sure, high school was that way, where you were on your own in a giant fishbowl of at least 1,000 other kids. However, take that number and multiply it by about 20. That’s right, you will have to embark amongst 20,000 other students on your own while working to make friends, get involved on campus and focus on your studies. And what’s worse? We’re all over 18 so these aren’t just teenagers. We are all adults now — we’re old. Be right back, getting my Life Alert. The positive in all of this? We’re all grown-up, meaning none of that high school drama.
14. You have to grow up.
Insert crying Kim Kardashian here. Yes, you heard me. You have to grow up and stop the drama. You are an adult now and you will be living on your own. That being said, growing up can be one of the scariest experiences ever. I mean, just yesterday you were a kid, where your biggest concern was finishing a science project. Now, you’re an adult and you have to worry about food, money, working and studying. It’s a big change and although "The Sims" made being an adult seem easy, it’s not all fun and games. So start practicing now. Do some laundry, fold some clothes and make dinner a few nights; it will pay off in the long run.
15. You’re entering the real world.
That day you move into your dorm and put all your clothes away, you enter the real world. The reason you live on your own in college is because after that, you live on your own, get a job and eventually start your own life. It’s insane that going to college all of the sudden means that there’s no more joking around. Everything we did in high school got us here and now everything we do in college determines our future: what we’ll do, where we’ll work and what we’ll become. That being said, make sure you actually love your major. If you really want to be a chef and if you’re majoring in political science, forget that and work to become a chef; don’t waste your time on a political science track. Who cares about pay? It’s real life and as the great Hannah Montana once said, “Life’s what you make it.” Success in life isn’t how much money you make, it’s about whether or not you love what you did with your life. You have four years — make them count!
Lead Image Credits: Bunim-Murray Productions (BMP) and Ryan Seacrest Productions