Hello friend! Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about moving to college, and the transition between living at home and living in a place by yourself for the first time, especially as college admissions are rolling in. There’s a lot I could say about this topic, but today I thought I would start by writing down some of the most important things that I’ve learned living alone at school.
A little bit about my background: I attend a public university in the United States, so that’s where I am coming from. I was homeschooled from K-12, and while I currently live in an off-campus apartment with friends, I have also previously lived in a dorm for almost 2 years (I didn’t get to finish out my second year due to the pandemic). I still live in the same state as my family, so I’m able to see them as often as I like, which was very frequent in the beginning and less so as I’ve become more independent.
Obviously I don’t have all of the time or space to cover all of the intricate details about living alone and moving out and all of that, but today I thought would give a broad overview about moving out and some tips I would give to someone who is thinking about moving out for college, particularly in a dorm, but also just in general.
- Own who you are and where you came from. Moving somewhere new is always the perfect excuse to reinvent yourself, and start a lot of your things in your life afresh: your friend circle, your likes and dislikes, and a lot of small pieces within your personality, and that’s great! As you do that, though, don’t try to completely reinvent yourself. Hang on to the parts of your personality that make you who you are, and although it might be tempting to completely start over, own who you are! Own your story, and don’t be afraid to share it with the people that you meet. Chances are, they’re going to think it’s cool instead of strange, and if they do think it’s strange, well, it’s their loss.
- Listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself. The first month or so of moving to college, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make friends, and be constantly hanging out with people, afraid to miss out on anything. While it’s definitely important to put yourself out there and make friends, also listen to what your body is telling you. Is it telling you to sit alone in your room while your roommate is out and reading a book? Then do it. Is it telling you to sit in the lounge, but not participate in the conversation? Do it.
Although I went into college an extrovert, by the end of my freshman year, I’d become a hardcore introvert. What changed? When I was homeschooled, I’d never had to be around someone else 23 1/2 hours of the day, but when I got to college, that changed: when I wasn’t in class, I was with friends, and if I wasn’t with them, I was with my roommate. Even the bathroom was a floor-wide communal one, so even in the bathroom I wasn’t completely alone. Your mental health is important, and you don’t have to be hanging out with people constantly if your body is telling you not to.
- No one is out to get you. A lot of the narrative about going to college, especially to a public university from being Christian and homeschooled, is that people will constantly be drinking and doing drugs and having sex blatantly, and that they’ll try to get you to join. Nothing is farther from the truth. While there are definitely people who go out partying, and who smoke weed in their room, no one is going to pressure you to do anything you don’t want to do. While there are certainly people who might be like that, my personal experience is that everyone is very respectful with your boundaries and choices, and so long as you’re clear about your boundaries are to yourself, you will be fine. (Obviously still be alert, because once people are drunk, they might do things that they wouldn’t normally do, so definitely keep yourself safe! but in general, it’s way less of a problem than people make it out to be.)
- Keep an open mind. You are going to meet so many people who have had different life paths and stories than you. They may have made different personal choices than you that you don’t agree with. Listen to their stories. Listen to what they have to say, and don’t dismiss what they have to say just because they have made decisions that you don’t agree with. This particularly applies to topics such as homosexuality, race, and money. Just as you don’t want people interfering with your life choices, don’t interfere with theirs.
- College (or wherever you’re moving) is not your mission field. When I was getting ready to start college, I had a lot of people say that they were praying for me to “be a good witness” or “show Christ to others”, and while being Christlike is obviously SUPER important and if people are interested in what you believe in, seize that opportunity to tell them about the gospel, but you are not responsible for the salvation of your friends. That is simply too much pressure, and if sharing the gospel in where you’re living is your calling, then 100% go for it! When I first moved to college, I felt a huge sense of responsibility for the people who I lived with, and I eventually realized that it was not a healthy mindset to have. Simply being a Christlike example is enough, and the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of those around you with your witness as an example.
My first roommate was not Christian, which we discussed the first day we lived together. She was very respectful of what I believed in, and while she wasn’t interested in becoming a Christian, we had a lot of good discussions about what I believed, and why I believed it. At the end of the semester, she understood the gospel a lot more and had a much more favorable perspective about Christianity than she did in the beginning.
Is it important to hold tight to your morals and faith? Absolutely. Do you have to convert your roommate and friends to Christianity? Absolutely not.
So those are my top 5 tips that I would give to someone who is worried about moving away from home for the first time! I would be more than happy to answer any more questions that you might have, and if you have any more topics that you would like me to share about, feel free to suggest topics for me to talk about!
If you haven’t moved away from home yet, what are questions you still have about living alone? If you have moved away, what is something you would tell yourself at the beginning of your journey? Is there anything else you want me to discuss? Leave a comment and let me know!
P. S. I have a new video up on my YouTube channel! It is a productive day in my life, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out, so I would love if you checked it out!