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Tips for surviving in an off-campus home

While dirty dishes can pile up living with roommates, helping out in cleaning can make for a more harmonious living situation. 

College is hard. Cooking meals, saving money, cleaning and maintaining a good environment at home during college is harder.

The difficulty of off-campus living starts the second you begin to pack your belongings for the big move. Why is it always so hard to pack? It is literally picking up things and putting them into another thing. Regardless, it’s not easy.

Then, you have to move those things you already moved into a new bedroom, which probably involves going up and down stairs, also known as the Devil’s architecture.

When you finally make it up the stairs and place all the boxes on the ground, settle in and saddle up.

Unpack immediately
You know what will happen if you don’t. The boxes will sit there while you head to The O Patio and Pub to partake in various, you know, social endeavors. That trip will turn into many and those boxes will go from unopened obstacles to a mixture of dirty clothes, folded clothes and shoes strewn about your room. It’s a bad look all around.

Make a playlist with the latest Bruno Mars banger and unpack everything. Say ‘No’ to parent requests for pictures on move-in day; no distractions allowed.

Just think of it this way: the sooner you’re unpacked the Schooner you’ll have fun.

Figure out meals that are quick and easy that aren’t just pasta
I love carbs. You love carbs. Your jeans hate carbs. Don’t forget about your jeans.

Figure out what meals are quick, easy, tasty and have some healthy component to them.

My ideal shopping list is something like this:
Chicken breast
Ground turkey
Canned tomatoes
Canned corn
Canned black beans
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Mushrooms
Squash
$1 flavored rice packets

It’s not as fun as pizza, but if you add enough garlic and salt to it all, it tastes almost as good.

Invest in mom’s favorites
A crock pot is God’s gift to college students. All you have to do is put ingredients in an oversized bowl and press a button, do things for six hours, come back and eat. It’s that easy.

Do you remember those Swiffer commercials where the feathers collect dust like Starbucks collects money you don’t have? It turns out, the commercials are true.

Swiffers are glorious additions to an off-campus home because one, they clean everything — television screens, floors, counter tops, laptops — and two, it’s so pleasing to look at all of the dust collected.

Don’t forget about a vacuum. Yes, the device that would wake you up every Sunday at noon in high school is needed in college. Vacuuming isn’t fun, but it is necessary. Nobody wants to come over to see a carpet coated in Cheeto dust and shedded hair. Nobody. Pick the vacuum up once a semester and take it for a spin. You won’t be sorry.

Be kind
Everyone has crappy days. Don’t take things out on your roommates if you failed an organic chemistry exam; go to your room and watch Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope will cheer you up more than huffing at your roommate who is just trying to relax on the couch.

Living with roommates can get messy but helping out in household cleaning can make for a more harmonious living situation. 

Remember that you make messes, too. It’s easy to get annoyed with a dish that’s been laying around for weeks collecting fruit flies. Do you know what’s easier than being passive-aggressive for days on end? Picking up the bowl and putting it in the dishwasher. For every mess you see, you’ve probably made one equal in size or worse.

Living off-campus will never feel like living back home with your parents, but the memories you make living with one or 10 of your closest friends make the experience well worth it. Make the best of the time you have living with an army of roommates while it’s still normal. There’s not much time left until you’re 28. Living with that many people at 28 is incredibly odd. Don’t do that.

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