The pandemic threw the world in a loop at a time when everyone was feeling excited for a new decade to come along. People’s plans were halted and everyone was forced to adjust to a new way of living. For those at SFU, that meant no formal in person lectures for over a year, until that was all changed in the fall of 2021. It appeared as if things were going to go back to normal and the many treks up the mountain were looking like a real possibility, so another readjustment had to be made, that of getting back to the time before the pandemic.
As someone living close to the Surrey/Langley border, that meant the resumption of the one- and-a-half to two-hour transit rides to get to class from my family home. That’s normally not an issue as I managed to do fine with transit in first and second year, I found that the extra three to four hours in my day allowed me to vastly improve my life balance and my grades. The time I would spend watching interesting true crime documentaries on Netflix while on the bus or Skytrain was now replaced by studying or getting a workout in. Not wanting to ruin the habits that allowed me to excel in classes in ways I hadn’t before, I decided to take a leap of faith and move out of my childhood home to a place close to Burnaby Mountain. Given how big of a responsibility this was, there were a lot of lessons I learned from this experience pertaining to handling your social bubbles, time management, and how to make smart decisions.
The first big hurdle that I had to jump through was simply that of expanding my bubble to now two households. Being someone who lives with their grandparents, I knew I had to be careful with socialization moving forward. As restrictions constantly being changed and adjusted, I always kept an eye on the news and kept track of what the regulations were. Not only that, but also making sure that I had enough time whenever I had a larger meet-up with friends to make sure that I did not catch and spread the virus. Of course, when I did meet up with friends, everything was following the mandated restrictions so there wasn’t really a risk, but it’s always good to be sure. Keeping yourself and others safe once you move is ultimately up to no one else but you, and so making sure you space out your visits or reunions (whether it be family or friends) is one of the best ways of managing to live within two bubbles at a time.
As I touched briefly upon before, the second important lesson I learned was how to budget my time. One of the main reasons that I moved out of my house was due to the time constraints placed by transit. Now that I was on my own without any external motivation, I had to make good use of that time. During the Fall semester, I was taking three classes while also working a part-time job, so managing my time correctly was important if I was to continue on the trajectory which I was on before. Throw in now having to do housework, shopping, studying, extracurriculars and cooking every week, and my days were usually packed full of stuff to do. What I found helped me with this was printing out a physical week and month calendar. The week calendar allowed me to write things down as my wake up and bed times, class times, work shifts, gym times, along with small things such as laundry day or a time to take out the trash. The monthly calendar helped plan out one-time events, such as meeting with friends, going back home to Surrey, or attending office hours. Of course, one of the most important aspects of the day is your personal time to relax. Giving yourself 30 minutes each day to do what you like and unwind prevents the feeling of burning out and is key to maintaining your mental health along with the added responsibilities of moving out.
The third, and probably most important lesson I learned after moving out of the house was knowing where to move out to and who to move in with. Given that I was going to be signing myself up to live somewhere for at least a year, I wanted to make sure that I made the right decision of it being as smooth as possible. I didn’t decide to move out quickly— rather it was a decision that I thought about for well over a year as rumoured back to school dates were thrown around. As such, I wanted to make sure that if I were to move out, it would either be by myself or I would move out with people who would help me achieve my first two goals of moving out. Luckily, some of my oldest university friends were on the same page and we found a place after a few months of looking. Location wise, we wanted it to be near a Skytrain station in order to quickly transit to where we needed to go, be it work, school, or somewhere for fun once restrictions lift. We found a house that fulfilled all of this had a grocery store nearby which helped us buy the essentials we needed. After the location was settled, we all talked about how comfortable we were with the restrictions and how we were going to handle the chores of the house. Coming to an understanding where we would keep each other accountable, all that was left was to pick out our rooms which also was not a big problem. The key point to this is that if you plan on having roommates, make sure you talk about the important stuff such as groceries, payment plans or each of your personal boundaries, along with the mundane stuff such as chore distribution. Having these discussed beforehand will allow everyone to avoid stress when it comes down to living together.
In short, moving out has allowed me to feel a freedom I never expected myself to have but also presented me with many challenges in learning what the responsibilities of an independent adult are. I’m still learning as I go along, but the lessons that I have learned so far have shown me that finally moving out of your parent’s place isn’t an insurmountable hurdle but rather a process that requires collaboration and integrity between yourself and the people around you.