The life of an off-campus student

“Don’t you wish you lived on campus Lily? “ – If I had a nickel ( rand) for every time someone asked me that question, I’d be able to buy myself a Jumbo box of Astros.

I am part of the minority of students in my year who do not stay in residences on campus. The university has a special acronym for us : PSO , which stands for “Private Student Organisation “. We’re the cool kids who cannot bear the thought of leaving home,  so we stay. With our parents and our families .

Life is hard when you’re an off-campus student.

a)You always hear about the parties at the last minute. Or you hear of them the weekend after.

b) You struggle to learn people’s names and cannot recognise 70% of the people you sit amongst in class.

c) You have to store extra clothes in your locker on campus just in case the Mother City has “one of her days” or,  if you are female , just in case “accidents” happen.

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d) The library is our sanctum when it rains .  We have nowhere else to go.

e) You have to pack in lunch everyday because the lunch they serve at the cafeteria is not suited for people who live on a student budget and to be completely honest , the food could be better.

f) You have to commit to attending lectures once you get out of the house. We don’t have the leisure of strolling into lecture halls five minutes before lectures begin . Campus dwellers are, ironically , the people who are late for classes most often. I cannot fathom how it is possible to be late for class when you have the advantage of living near your lecture halls.

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g) We don’t have PSO traditions such as running around the female residence naked ( they call it the “Tour de Francie”) or shaving our hair in strange styles. We do not have any special uniform or song of solidarity that we sing at highly inappropriate time (yes, i’m  looking at you Hippokrates).

h) We don’t have to do any activities like “innaweek” ( stay in weekend) or “huis vergaderings” ( house meetings) or “huisfonsdans”( House dance funding).

Our main objective is to study.

However, life is not actually that bad when you’re an off-campus student

I initially wanted to stay on campus ( this was during orientation week and for the first month of Uni)  because of all those fun and exciting things but my mindset has changed throughout the course of the year . I have come to the realisation that being a home-dweller is not terrible . There are reasons for my change of heart.

1. It depends on how bad your FOMO is. I’ve missed out on so many parties and events that FOMO doesn’t even register to me anymore ( the perks of having strict African parents that only let you go out twice a month).  I can deal with the fact that I’m not always going to be involved and that there are things that will have to happen without me there to witness them.

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2. I’m not in a rush to assert my independence because I have the rest of my life during which to do that. I still need my parents and if I can hold onto them a little longer, then so be it. I was in matric last year, highschool ,and I didn’t know anything about taking care of myself. Fast forward nine months later and I don’t know that much more. I’m virtually dangerous if left to fend for myself.

3. I have the luxury of my own space. The restrictions in residences are annoying. You constantly have to be mindful of your shared space. You have to be quiet in case others are studying and you are not allowed to indulge in spontaneous habits such as singing in the shower or even whistling a tune down the corridor.

4. I live in Cape Town and my university is also in Cape Town. I reside, at most , twenty minutes away from campus. It would be selfish of me to take the space of another student who has travelled a great distance just to receive their education .

5.  I would lose weight dramatically. My lack of culinary skills and general apathy when it comes to nutrition would certainly work against me. Life at residence lends itself to “forgetting” to eat or sometimes “not having enough money to eat” . I would suffer exceptionally. Thus bringing me back to the whole issue of being a danger to myself.

6. My family is tight-knit. Seeing them only once a week would be terrible and I would feel FOMO from my family. I’ve seen a lot of my friends suffer from crushing loneliness and depression because of the distance between them and their families. Many say that if they had the choice they would be with their families. The transition from high school to university is difficult and I would need an inexhaustible amount of emotional maturity to overcome the trials and tribulations that generally accost first years.

7.  Medical students have a habit of amplifying each other’s stress levels and making everything seem 10^16 times worse than it is. The effect that an end of block assessment has on my peers is frightening. I absorb that nervous energy and it transforms me into a bundle of nerves. What more if I were to live with at least two hundred others experiencing the same problem ?  I need my family to put the brakes on my stress train when i’m freaking out and to tell me to calm down. They know me  and sometimes all I need is for one of them to sit me down and give me a cup of tea so I can think about my existential crisis.

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The time will come when I will be unceremoniously kicked out from my humble abode but until that day arrives,   I will enjoy my off-campusness 😛 .

Lots Of Lily Love ❤ (LOLL) 😛

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