In order to study at Bristol UWE this September (2020), I had planned to move out of the family home to live in Bristol. Before this, I had never lived away from home before and knew it would be an interesting experience, but also a relatable one as it’s something everyone goes through at some stage in their life.
I wanted to share my own personal experience not only a documentation and reflection for myself, but to also perhaps create a connection with those currently going through a similar situation.
Leading up to the move…
I had put a deposit on a flat that I would be sharing with my partner Nathan and another flatmate we’d not met before. Due to the corona-virus pandemic, the UK was in lockdown and so unfortunately I was unable to see the flat in person. I’ll be honest and say that this did stir feelings of uncertainty because I wanted to be in control and couldn’t. I hadn’t seen Nathan for months also which was difficult in itself and I was afraid that immediately moving in together after so much time apart would potentially put some level of strain on our relationship.
Unfortunately for me, isolation had prevented a lot from happening and so time didn’t feel to be passing almost at all. When I was able to move in, it was overwhelming at first because a part of me didn’t quite believe that I was actually leaving. But this was something that I had been looking forward to and preparing for and I knew that I would manage.
What helped me to adjust…
There are a number of factors of my benefit which were purely circumstantial and I feel obligated to mention these first. During my gap year I worked a job and was able to save up enough money to move in the July. This provided me the time to explore and adjust before starting university. I am also lucky in the fact that I get to live with my partner of nearly three years who I can rely on and suggests a sense of familiarity. We get along really well with our flatmate, something that can’t be predicted, and therefore I must mention that also.
As it was still a new experience, there were some things I actively performed which helped me to settle in, some on purpose and some accidentally. A long time before moving, I had started to create some positive daily routines for myself. These included meditating before bed, having a morning and nighttime skincare routine and writing in a journal. Continuing to practise these things helped me to feel more “normal”, and helped to start and then end the day off.
Naturally, I kept in touch with family through messages, phone calls and video chats. I think that was important to us all, just to check in and confirm that we were all doing well. I had not only been sure to keep up with my writing, but had also started a new hobby of writing letters to my grandparents, something I had always wanted to make the effort for. As I was hearing of them less now not at home, it was comforting to consistently maintain some kind of contact.
Making plans in advance for the following day was really useful. I wanted to keep myself busy but when in a new area, it’s hard to know where to start. I never made a schedule as such but simply wrote a list of a few things I both needed and wanted to do for the following day. In doing so, I would often get more done and feel accomplished. It also provides reasons to get up and out of bed every day as there are specific activities to look forward to. I can honestly say that I never felt “home sick”, but not everything went smoothly straight away.
Now that I was away from my family home, I needed to create my own routines and find my own way of living. I’m not sure exactly how much anyone can prepare for this but even so, I did come across some minor challenges.
It took me a little while to get into some kind of consistent routine that was happy with. Even though I would be making my lists, it was easier to realise and write the things that I wanted to do as opposed to the those that needed to be done. I had a new responsibility of taking care of both myself and the flat and it wasn’t always easy to keep on top of things. Especially concerning bedtime. Of course I’m not alone in that; I think it’s part of the growth process. After a lot of practise, I thankfully feel more comfortable now.
There were some small issues with the flat itself within the first few weeks which was unfortunate but in sorting those problems out, it actually did bring me confidence. In association with this, the responsibility of keeping the flat clean was all of ours and initially it was difficult to address this. However, I created a cleaning rota that was straightforward and easy to achieve which worked to combat this problem. I believe it’s been useful to carry out this now before starting university when priorities could alter.
The biggest emotional stress was missing my dogs. And I wasn’t expecting that. Perhaps it’s because I had grown up around these creatures and so was used to that feeling of having them there. I adore dogs and they most definitely relieve anxiety for me and I deeply miss spending time with them. This is something that I am still slowly learning to accept and try to make the most of my time with them when I do get to see them both.
I have really enjoyed my time so far and feel incredibly lucky that my experience has been so positive. Having the confidence to come up with solutions has made me feel more adult and it’s had influence over everything else that I do now. It’s helped me to learn more about myself and grow individually.
What do you think?
Don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Everyone goes through this stage at some point and I would be interested to hear of your own experience. Perhaps you’d like to share anything you learnt during this time or any personal challenges you came across!