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Tips for surviving life away from home

As usual, summer has sped by much too quickly and autumn is here. Of course, that means it is back to school time.

As usual, summer has sped by much too quickly and autumn is here. Of course, that means it is back to school time.

While some (parents, perhaps) are excited for this time of year, many dread it and trudge back to class counting down the days until June. Others however may be excited for September to begin for different reasons, so they can start a new chapter in their lives.

I am speaking of course about those who have finished school here in Central Alberta and are moving away from home for the first time. Moving away from home is often an exciting, frightening, heartbreaking and fun experience all at once.

It is exciting because of the new possibilities -- new people to meet, new places to see and new adventures to be had.

It is frightening for that same reason however, being new. What is new and unknown is usually scary on some level and entering into it without the support of family and friends that have always been there for you is at the very least a bit uncomfortable.

When I graduated from high school and moved away from Viscount, Saskatchewan to Calgary for school, I was glad for many of the lessons I had learned before moving but still wished someone had been able to tell me more about what living on my own would be like. Luckily, I did eventually learn and now I can pass on that knowledge to any others who are about to start making it on their own.

First, learn to cook. Not a week goes by that I am not thankful my mom taught me the basics of cooking long before I moved away from home. You would be surprised how sick you can get of pre-packaged meals, Kraft Dinner and pizza.

To save time and effort with meals, you can also invest in a slow cooker. These things are great for hot meals on the run. Dump some meat and veggies into the pot with a tiny bit of water as you are leaving the house, turn the slow cooker on and voila! Hot, hearty stew when you get home at the end of the day.

Lots of these gadgets come with cookbooks to make a wide variety of meals as well, none of which require a great deal of effort from the lazy or inexperienced chef.

Second, expect the worst from your roommates. Living with roommates is an annoying, though often necessary evil that most of us have to go through at some point or another.

My own personal experience with roommates has been less than enjoyable until I moved in with my girlfriend in May of this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I know lots of people who developed strong friendships with their roommates that remain to this day. I’m just saying it’s not something you should expect. If you assume the worst and are lucky enough to get some great roommates, it will be a pleasant surprise.

Third, do the dishes. Unless you are one of the few people lucky enough to have a dishwasher in your first home, you will probably be doing dishes by hand. It’s important to do them every day so they don’t get out of hand.

A good way to cut down on dirty dishes is not to bring full sets of dishes with you when you move. I remember when I first moved away from home, my grandfather told me to take one plate, one bowl, one spoon, one cup... etc. I thought he was joking. It turned out to be the best advice I never took.

Instead, I took a full set of dishes and so did my three roommates. The end result was that no one did dishes because there were always clean ones in the cupboards – that is until there were enough dirty dishes to cover every surface in the kitchen. It was pretty gross.

Doing dishes every day will help you get along with roommates too. Something like 90% of the fights I had with my roommates were over doing dishes. While it seems a small thing, you would be surprised how much stress can be caused over dishes. So if you have a dishwasher, start counting your lucky stars.