This year, I decided to move off campus, into an apartment ten minutes away from campus. While I will never again go back to residence meal plans or hard twin beds, living off campus and being slightly farther away from my classes took some getting used to!

Here are four life and routine changing things I’ve learned over the course of this past month:

1. Dirt builds up.

When we moved in, my roommate and I decided we were going to clean every week. A week in, we realized that cleaning every two weeks was way more practical. A month later, we were living in undeniable filth. If you’re in this position, you’ll find that no matter how many dishes you put away or clothes you hang up, the apartment itself needs a good and frequent cleaning. Try to do a wipe down of the most heavily used surfaces (i.e. kitchen and washroom) every week, sweep every other week and do a full cleaning at the end of every month. Sticking to a rough schedule like this ensures that you aren’t breathing dust everytime you step into your house, and makes it a lot easier to clean at the end of the month.

2. You don’t have time to pack a lunch and make breakfast before you go to class.

Unless your breakfast is lunch. As much as I tried to follow my own advice from the summer on making quick and easy lunches to go, I found myself scrambling to make sure I just got breakfast ready in time before rushing to class. Factoring in the extra “commute” time, waking up even earlier to pack a lunch is pure lunacy. My goal for October? To try and pack lunches the night before. Knowing my tight schedule, it looks like October will be full of leftovers stuffed into tupperware, pre-made salads, and a depleting flex dollar account.

3. Be prepared for anything.

And that means everything. I’ve taken to carrying around a  sweater and umbrella (what is up with this crazy Toronto weather anyway?!), readings, music and snacks everyday. Sure it adds a little more weight, but you’ll thank yourself (and your shoulders) for this sacrifice when you’re bored and hungry waiting in between classes, and the temperature drops and starts raining all at the same time. Yeah.

4. “Commuting” can make you start being more productive and procrastinating at the same time.

Not being able to pop back to your residence in between classes, means that you have to carry all your books with you all day, which can be a definite blessing in disguise. I’ve found that if you plan out your work carefully, you can even maximize those ‘dead’ hours between your classes! However, this also leads to some serious procrastinating – I mean, if you have time before class, why not just do those readings then? On one hand, maybe it forces you to actually do some of those readings you would have otherwise neglected, but on the other, it can lull you into a false sense of ample amounts of time to finish your work in. Don’t fall for the trap! Be smart, and use those hours to do work that you’ll be too exhausted to do in the evening.

Do you have any other hard-learned lessons about living off campus?

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 Image courtesy of Mr.Empy via Flickr (CC by 2.0)