A survival guide to first-year apartment living


Getty Images

Young man in supermarket compares bottles of oil. Shopping intentionally can keep your pantry, and your life, organized.

By Aisha Motan

One of the many things people struggle with when living on their own is cooking. Living in the dorms comes with the luxury of dining hall food. Andrew Wabibr, sophomore in Business, recently had to learn to cook for himself.

“I guess in the dorms you could just go whenever you want and have food always ready for you, but having to cook for yourself takes a lot of time — way more than I thought it would,” he said.

But he added that apartment life also comes with its perks when it comes to eating.

“It’s a lot nicer because you can eat what you want. You don’t have to eat whatever is out for you,” he said. “You could go grocery shopping by yourself, which is also kind of hard when you don’t have a car.”

Because residence halls hosts social events, councils and many other means of meeting people, Wabi was nervous about changes in the social atmosphere when he moved to an apartment.

“(In the) dorms, you see the same people every day. You get to meet everyone and build relationships with them,” he said. “I didn’t think that was going to happen in an apartment, but it does, especially because I live in an apartment that has an elevator; you see the same people in the elevator all the time,” he said. “You get to talk to them. You hear some pretty interesting stories.”

Students living in an apartment for the first time will have to learn the ins and out of grocery shopping, especially while on a budget. Rana Senlikbr, sophomore in LAS, said planning ahead is a key to grocery shopping success.

“It’s good to make lists when you need things, because when you go grocery shopping, you’re like, ‘Oh, I need this,’ and then you overpay for things,” she said. “So you should stick to a list.”

People who have had prior experience with living in apartments had similar advice. Jay Shahbr, senior in LAS, recommends students learn basic skills before living on their own.

“Learn how to cook basic meals before you move into an apartment so you don’t only eat frozen pizza and boxed mac and cheese,” Shah said.

The amount of work it takes to survive first-year apartment life doesn’t become known until students are in that position.

“My advice would be to know how much effort it (takes) to keep a place clean and how to cook,” Shah said. “Before, you had your parents to do all that, but now it’s all on you, and you realize how grateful you should be towards your parents.”

Living in an apartment is the start of a new chapter for many college students.

[email protected]