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Like many of us, I moved back to campus last week after about a year and a half of online classes! It was absolutely crazy to see it so full of people again; it felt almost like it did my freshman year. What was even crazier, though, was suddenly adjusting to an off-campus house after spending the past year and a half at home, and before that, in the freshman dorms. 

My first glimpse of campus!

I didn’t realize how much was provided to me my freshman year until I moved into a place off campus and realized that I would have to cook actual food. I could have probably gotten a meal plan, but I wanted the full ~off-campus experience~ and I can say with full confidence that I’m definitely getting it! 

For the first two days, my housemates and I opted for takeout from various places instead of cooking, and I was able to enjoy some of my favorite restaurants—Blaze Pizza and 23rd Street Cafe—after a while of not having them (my paneer burrito hit different after one and a half years). But after a couple days, we realized that someone had to cave and attempt to make some magic happen in the kitchen. 

Bring in the parents. My housemate and I FaceTimed my parents about ten times (not an exaggeration) in order to make our first meal—okra and roti—both of our first times attempting Indian food! After that, we decided to harness the magic of the Instant Pot and make some rice, dal, and okra. . .but got the proportions extremely wrong, leaving us with food worth ten meals (fast forward three days and we’re still working on finishing it). Pro tip: look up a recipe (Budget Bytes is a wonderful site for that) or call someone who knows what they’re doing! Do NOT wing it!

The next thing I didn’t realize upon moving into a place off-campus was that it’s important to order everything you’re going to need ahead of time. In my case, that was a mattress. I procrastinated on ordering it, leading me to spend my nights sleeping on a fancy little floor setup I have going on that involved a mattress topper, with any blankets I had dumped on top of the mattress topper to add some cushion (it was surprisingly comfortable, and I hear it’s good for your back). Good news: my mattress finally arrived, so I’ll be sleeping in luxury for the foreseeable future.

My blanket heap bed

So, a lot of lessons learned so far: plan out your meals, learn to cook (or at least find some recipes), and order your furniture so it’s there when you need it. The dorm lifestyle is definitely a middle ground between living at home and living off-campus, so enjoy the dining halls while you can (and maybe learn to cook a bit so you’re not thrown off the deep end). I’m sure I’ll learn more as the semester goes on, but for now, I’ll be recipe hunting and attempting to be a functional adult living on my own. We’ll see how it goes, but I think sleeping in an actual bed is a good place to start!

Viterbi Voices