New Beginnings: Living Away from Home

New Beginnings: Living Away from Home

Leading up to the new school year, we are excited to feature Zoë Crego of Her Campus as a guest contributor. Zoë is a Communications major at the University of Ottawa and serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the uOttawa chapter of Her Campus. Stay tuned for the remainder of this six-part series about what every first-year student needs to know.

The start of a new school year brings changing leaves, cooler weather, U-passes, and an abundance of new first-year students; bright-eyed and nervous as they begin the journey into post-secondary education. Entering college or university as a new student is not only daunting, but extremely overwhelming. Here are the number one tips every first-year student needs to know:


Picture this: your parents have spent the weekend helping you move into residence and toured campus with you. Perhaps you’ve even been treated to a dinner or two by the ‘rents.  It’s now Sunday afternoon and you’re saying goodbye to your (probably emotional) parents. Now that you have a moment to assess your surroundings, you realize that you’re completely alone. The unfamiliar feelings of homesickness will soon start to sink in. Unfortunately, homesickness isn’t a onetime deal that will affect you shortly after your parents leave and then disappear as quickly as it came. It’s an annoying and overbearing feeling that will creep its way into your life several times throughout then next year. Don’t freak out just yet – I have a foolproof tip to help rid you of the nasty homesickness bug:

Skype Dates

What’s better than talking to your parents, friends, or siblings on the phone? Seeing them! Schedule weekly or bi-weekly Skype dates with your family, friends, or pets (hey –I’m not judging). Having a set time to talk to your people will not only give you something to look forward to, but it will also hold you accountable and make sure you do check in from time to time.

Living Away From Home

Now that you know how to combat homesickness, let’s talk about living away from home. Living away from home is fun – but it’s not all fun. You actually have to do things that you may have gotten out of when living at home. How many of you clean your bathroom and kitchen appliances? Do you know how to cook meals for the days when you can’t fathom stepping into the cafeteria? How about taking care of yourself when you’re sick? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you need to open another tab in your browser and find YouTube ”how to” videos to teach you about all the chores I listed above. Before you press play on that cooking tutorial, check out this list of important (but mostly forgotten) items you’ll need for your dorm:

Air Freshener (or wall plug-in)

Since you can’t light a scented candle or open your dorm window to get some fresh air, you’ll want a clean smelling air freshener or wall plug-in to get rid of any foul or stale odours in your room!

Medicine/Pain relievers

Make sure you don’t forget some pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, allergy meds, upset stomach relievers, etc.

Semi-Formal dresses/clothes

You may not think that you’ll be going anywhere fancy, but college/university offers many chances to get dolled up at various formals (rez, faculty, or program), on-campus events, off-campus events, etc.

Cleaning supplies

If you have your own bathroom in residence or your own apartment, don’t skip out on cleaners! You can find inexpensive universal cleaners that work on most surfaces in a bathroom at stores like Walmart or Giant Tiger.

Need more guidance? Check out The Best College Packing Checklist EVER on Her Campus. Or check out a list of What to Bring (Or Not) from uOttawa.


Zoë currently holds the position of co-Editor-in-Chief and President at Her Campus uOttawa in addition to working as a Chapter Advisor for Her Campus National. In addition to Her Campus duties, Zoë is also pursuing a degree in Communications at uOttawa and spends too much of her free time on social media.

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