Martin Lopez / Highlander

I’m from the city of San Bernardino, which is approximately 20 minutes away from Riverside depending on the traffic. My peers tend to be shocked by this information since I live on campus and wonder why I don’t stay at home and commute if I live so close. 

My home life didn’t seem too bad in retrospect, but I was really anxious to have a small taste of freedom, even if it was under the pretense of going to college. Recently I finally learned the true nature of what comes with living on my own. While I lived in the A-I dorms my freshman year, I’d run into my residential advisor every day. This time around I truly have no adults, like my parents or my residential advisor, to watch out for my well-being. 

During my second year at UCR, I moved into an on-campus apartment, which has brought with it many more learning experiences. My first lesson was having the responsibility of managing my own amenities, namely, the internet. Trying to figure out how to get ahold of internet providers and set up my internet wasn’t the most enjoyable experience. There were days where I struggled to figure out that there was only one internet provider in my area; I then had to wait for the router and modem to be shipped to me so I could set it up on my own.

Being allowed to go anywhere I please has been widely important to my social life. I constantly want to be around my college friends, but we all have very different lives and schedules throughout the day. By living near campus I’m able to go to their apartment to hang out at night when we are all available. I’ve become so accustomed to that freedom that while back home for the summer my parents were confused when I would just leave without asking for permission first.

Funnily enough, my family still is able to keep tabs on me since my mom is always tracking my location through her GPS app. When my mom realizes I’m not at home she is disappointed to hear that I was not living it up at a random party but raiding my friend’s apartment for snacks.

Being in charge of buying my own food has posed quite the learning curve. In my family’s house, nothing was left in the fridge long enough to rot so I was never aware of expiration dates. While living on my own I had to figure out what foods to buy to feed myself. I began to plan ahead in my eating schedule for the week so that I could finish foods like milk and cheese before their expiration dates. This was a hassle at first as I don’t always have milk in my fridge for my cereal by the end of the week. 

I am very fortunate to have learned how to do my laundry while still living at home. Now that I live on my own I have to be very cognizant of when I’ll run out of clean clothes, especially socks. However, I’ve since adjusted and planned ahead by slowly increasing the number of socks I own. I made a point to also purchase extra laundry baskets to accommodate my clothes dilemma, one for my clean laundry and one for dirty clothes.

The work habits from high school pretty much transferred over to my college years, so I feel as though I haven’t had too much a learning curve when it came to that aspect in my life. However, I feel it is important to note that while in college, friends can take up a significant amount of time and can become distracting.

I take charge of my education by setting a schedule for when to do my homework. By setting a schedule, I can hang out with friends and am better able to section off when to work on assignments. It also helps remove any doubts that I won’t be able to finish my work and gets me in the right mindset to do well in class.

Being proactive also applies to my living situation, since no one cares if I’m comfortable except me. I learned this fact the hard way when I pretended that the condition of my bathroom drain was fine when I initially moved into the apartment; turns out I was wrong and had to put out a work order to fix it.

I know that there are students who commute from as far as Los Angeles to attend UCR, but personally, I think I would have been cheating out on an experience of a lifetime if I stayed at home. It would then be similar to my high school years where I could only be at school or at home. There are some aspects of living on my own that might seem to be more of a hassle than they’re worth, yet at the same time, they have been shaping me into a more well-rounded individual. Despite having to make adjustments, I would have still chosen to move out rather than staying at home.