Must-have skills for students living in dorms, apartments

MANILA, Philippines – For many students, university marks the beginning of independence. From kindergarten through high school, most Filipino students live with their parents, and college is usually their first opportunity to live elsewhere.

With the upcoming introduction of face-to-face classes, students are expected to once again occupy dorms and apartments around their universities. Those who have done it before may not be too stressed about the upcoming change, but it can be exciting and anxiety-provoking for those experiencing it for the first time.

It will be a big step in their life. The challenges of living away from home are sure to present themselves and they will have no choice but to deal with them on their own. How can a student survive in an environment where nothing seems familiar?

Don’t panic! Here are some of the essential skills you should learn to live independently.

Know where your money is going

As a student, you would live independently, but only to a certain extent. Yes, you will be moving out of your parents’ house, but you will likely still be financially dependent on them. Just like when you were in high school, your parents will always give you an allowance.

As you go, you’ll learn that money doesn’t grow on trees, and you’ll have to learn how to spend it wisely. When budgeting, the first thing you need to do is list the things you would need to spend your money on, such as food, rent, bills, school supplies, and transportation. Once you have listed these essentials, allocate the money for them. A good tip is to set aside your money for rent first, so you don’t have any problems with your landlord later. It would also be a good idea to already set aside money for electricity, water and internet bills with your rent money.

In theory, budgeting is easy, but it’s actually much harder when the money is right in your pocket and your favorite restaurant is right across the street. In situations like this, you need to assess three things: how much money you have left, the days until your next allowance arrives, and whether the thing in front of you is a need or a want. Creating a spreadsheet or downloading an expense tracking app or template can be very helpful.

College Survival 101: Must-Have Skills for Students Living in Dorms, Apartments

On the other hand, if you find that your allowance is not enough for even your basic expenses, you can always try looking for part-time jobs or applying for scholarships to help you with your finances.

Be your own chef

Budgeting will also teach you that eating out isn’t always the best option. However, not all dorms and apartments come with a kitchen, so it’s best to keep that in mind when choosing accommodation. More often than not, grocery shopping will save you more money, and knowing how to cook will be a nice perk.

If you can’t cook, that’s no problem! There are plenty of beginner-friendly cooking websites and YouTube channels. Apart from the convenience of home-cooked meals, this would also allow you to have a varied menu. Who needs to go to different restaurants when you can have Filipino and Italian cuisine in your own kitchen?

Getting along with your roommates

Living independently does not necessarily mean living alone. Dorms and apartments, especially the cheaper ones, usually come with two or more beds, which means you’ll have to share the space with other people.

If you don’t want to be called a “messy roommate,” you better step up your tidying up game. In your new place, your things are your responsibility and no one else is supposed to clean up after you. This involves being organized with your stuff and your area. Marie Kondo may be out of fashion, but she can surely still help you find out what sparks joy and what doesn’t.

College Survival 101: Must-Have Skills for Students Living in Dorms, Apartments

Another point to consider if you want to get along with your roommates is noise. This doesn’t mean you have to be completely silent in your bedroom; instead, you need to consider when it’s okay to blast your favorite pop song and when it’s not. Sometimes your roommate may need to revise for an upcoming test, so you need to be understanding.

Other than that, you should also tell them if you plan to bring friends. Remember, it’s not just your room. Learn how to communicate with your roommate so you can build a good relationship.

The art of resourcefulness

There will come a time when you will realize that something is missing. Since you are not at home, your furniture and equipment will most likely be incomplete, so you will need to be resourceful.

It is also possible that things in your apartment are broken, so it would be good for you to know how to carry out minor repairs. Let’s say your dirty laundry basket breaks. You can either fix it temporarily with duct tape or just use a cardboard box instead of buying a new one.

Here’s another helpful tip: Think about things you can get from home instead of buying new ones like cooking utensils and an extension cord.

Time is also money; don’t waste it

Time management is a skill that can be overlooked, but it’s extremely important when you’re having all your time without anyone telling you what to do. Apart from your university courses which have a fixed schedule, everything else is up to you. Do you eat on time, do your homework, clean your room, or just lay down and watch Tiktok videos?

There is no single formula for time management as different techniques work for different people. Set your priorities and try to be consistent. Try techniques such as the pomodoro method or the Eisenhower matrix. Keep a to-do list.

College Survival 101: Must-Have Skills for Students Living in Dorms, Apartments

It’s easy to say “mom na because no one will scold you for being lazy, but this habit might stress you out more. Building a daily routine can help you manage your time better while making your tasks less taxing.

discipline yourself

Overall, living away from home can be mastered with self-discipline. Managing your resources such as time and money takes discipline, and you will also be the only one to suffer if you mismanage them. As you get used to it, you’ll realize that you don’t always have to be strict with yourself, and sometimes you deserve that extra scoop of ice cream watching Netflix in bed. –

Rainielle Kyle Guison is a Rappler trainee.