When I first started university, I met tons of new people. Some were local, some were from other parts of Canada, and others were international students arriving in the GTA for the first time. Those initial few days consisted of a lot of introductions, and more often than not I was asked where I came from. The conversations went something like this:
“I live at home, actually,” I would say.
“Oh,” said the person. “Don’t you hate it? Residence is so fun.”
“No…I live fifteen minutes away from campus. Why would I stay in residence?”
There’s a bit of a stigma against continuing to live at home while attending university. The media tells us that university is the time when eighteen year olds pack up their things and travel halfway across the country to find themselves. Dorms are where the fun happens — parties, scandals, gossip, and that is where you make some of your best friends. And all of us who live at home are missing out on it.
Of course, living at home has its perks. The house is always clean, you have easy access to food, you save heaps of money, and it makes the overall transition to post-secondary education easier. While it can leave something to be desired in terms of stereotypical university life, there are still ways to maintain the experience.
Stay Social and Make Friends
If you don’t have any roommates to socialize with, it can be hard to make friends quickly. A good way to compensate is to go to orientation or frosh week and meet people. You’re likely to have shared interests and see a lot of each other throughout the year. Joining campus clubs is also a great way to meet people. The best part is that anyone involved in extracurricular activities probably has the same idea in mind — they’re looking to socialize, so you don’t need to feel awkward about engaging in conversation.
Frequent the Library
Depending on your work method, studying can be a struggle when there’s a whole family living alongside you. It can be beneficial to spend study time in the library or in other areas of campus. At home, it’s easy to let your attention wander, but the library is probably quieter, and you’re less likely to get distracted when you’re surrounded by books and other students. Furthermore, allocating the majority of study time to the library helps with time management, as you’ll be motivated to finish your work so you can go to meetings, study groups, or back home.
Establish Trust with Your Family
One of the most common complaints about living at home being restricted by your family’s rules. However, all healthy dynamics involve compromise and trust. While living at home may be infinitely more comfortable, the inevitable truth is that you are still living amongst your family and must fit into their lifestyle. Conversely, your family must learn to treat you as a more independent person and accommodate your university schedule and life. A good way to establish trust is to share your class and study schedules with your family. That way, they’re less likely to be worried about your whereabouts and will trust you in return.
At the end of the day, it really depends on what kind of a person you are. Some of us do better in the comfort of our homes, while others prefer to explore new situations. But it should never be said that those who live at home can’t have an equally fulfilling university experience.