Why you should pick a college away from home

Published: September 6, 2013
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Living away from home is a beuatiful learning experience. PHOTO: REUTERS

Unlike the West, where living away from home is a norm, a large part of our traditional Pakistani society is new and rather averse to this notion. Most parents are overprotective by nature and are unwilling to disrupt the family dynamics. Thus, they are reluctant to even consider the possibility of sending their children away from home.

Sure, attending college in one’s hometown is an experience in itself.  However, I think that the purpose of college education entails character-building, ability to deal with copious amount of pressure and exploring the person that one is or wishes to be. Dorm-life, in my opinion, is one of the most speedy and efficient means to serve this end. From my own experiences and those of my closest friends, here are few reasons why you should think about choosing a college in another city/country.

1.  Learning to compromise

When you live with your friends, you have a lot of fun, but you learn a lot too. There are nights when you stay up with your roommate till the wee hours of morning telling each other stories. Then there are weekends when you don’t feel like changing out of your sweatpants, so you order food and watch a movie with a friend, and then there are those endless hangouts, dinners, random walks to ice cream parlours in the middle of the night.

However, aside from all the enjoyable times, there are also those innumerable inconveniences too that you have to put up with when you live with people you aren’t used to living with. It is here when you learn to choose between when to make your peace with things that you don’t quite like and when to confront the problem upfront to salvage your friendships.

You learn to take your calls outside when your roommate’s sleeping or to leave your keys on the sill because you are pretty sure your roommate has forgotten to take hers along and to check up on your next-door neighbour if they are not feeling well before you call it a day.

You also learn to respect others’ boundaries and not be hurt by their need for privacy or space. This kind of exposure surely makes one a better individual with admirable sensibilities.

2.  Realising the value of money.

You become painfully aware of your spending since you have to pay for every single thing out of your own pocket. Whether you receive stipends, work to pay for your expenses, or receive an allowance every month, when living by yourself, everyone grows conscious of their spending. To pay for every single thing – from meals to school supplies – makes you value the hard work that goes into earning each and every penny.

You also learn to share and get over your ego when it comes to asking for temporary loans from friends if need be, and more often than not, such kind of symbiosis makes friendships stronger.

3.  Understanding that with freedom comes responsibility 

Without anyone to hold you accountable for your actions, you feel this great sense of freedom, but along with it comes responsibility.

I cannot recall how many times the clichéd line from the Spiderman movie came to my mind in my four years away from home. The fact that there are absolutely no restrictions on you about anything is very liberating, sure, but it also propels you to create your own moral compass- to judge for yourself if your actions are justified or not. The freedom also helps you to explore multitude of possibilities available to you and to push limits.

During my sophomore year, I worked as a telephone operator – something I could not have imagined myself doing at home, and although it became taxing after a while, I loved having that job.

4.  Finding yourself amidst other cultures

You live with people from diverse backgrounds with their own stories and that can be really inspiring.

One of the biggest perks of living away from home is that you get to meet the most interesting kinds of people;to be able to know and become a part of their stories is a real gift indeed. My first assigned roommate was a girl from Gujrat and it was a true pleasure because I learned so much about her culture and struggles which were so different and yet so similar to mine.

This kind of cultural exchange impels you to discover yourself- to find your own identity amongst such a large mesh of people and that is a truly exhilarating process.

5. Understanding who you are  

Lastly, and personally the most worthy of all the accomplishments, is the self-discovery you embark upon.

All the things I mentioned earlier lead you to the urgent need to discover what you believe in rather than what is being fed down to you; you then learn to be responsible for your actions. It is an enlightening journey.

This, right here, is where your individuality is born and you develop the person that you want to be for the rest of your life.

So, folks, take my advice and pick a college away from home; you won’t regret it!

Laila Rajani

Laila Rajani

A novice researcher who teaches Sociology. She has a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Lahore University of Management Sciences.. She tweets @LailaRajani twitter.com/LailaRajani

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