What You Learn Your First Semester Away From Home

College is your home away from home. Your dorm room is your space to make your own, and your roommates are like your siblings (because they'll occasionally hog the television remote or dip into your snacks). There's probably a kitchen on the first floor, a bathroom down the hall, and a grocery store down the street that you go to once a week. Sure, your mom isn't there to cook you homemade pasta and meatballs, or ask you about your classes at the end of the day. But, you're excited to be out on your own, and doing the #adulting thing. You'll find that what you learn your first semester away from home is so valuable, but also inevitable. You couldn't learn these lessons anywhere else.

Going into your first semester, you might not be entirely sure what to expect. You want to bond with your roommate and learn all the shortcuts on campus. Maybe you never shared a room before, so that's something brand new. Even little things like cooking chicken, or figuring out what deals are good at the store, will fall into your hands. Walking down the aisles will make you appreciate home and your parents just a little bit more. How did they just know?

Soon enough, you'll start getting the hang of things. You'll teach yourself how to properly clean an apartment, and the settings on the washing machine. Let's be honest: These seven life lessons are inevitable, but you'll be so happy to learn them along the way.

1How To Cook For Yourself

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In my personal opinion, it's incredibly important to learn how to cook for yourself. Your first few weeks, you'll likely depend on the food at the dining hall or make mac and cheese in your microwave. But, those meals get old fast, and even ordering pizza gets to be boring after a while.

When you know how to cook for yourself, you take charge of your life a bit. You have control over the kinds of food you're eating, and can use your creativity to come up with different dishes. After a very questionable plate of pasta in the cafeteria, this lesson will become much-needed. Phew! Onto the next one.

2How To Clean Your Own Space

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Having your own space is super fun in college, because it's a place to call your own. You're not living in your parents' house, or sharing a closet with your older sibling. It's amazing how little things like that can make you feel so much more like an adult.

The summer leading up to your first semester, you likely scrolled through Pinterest looking for dorm ideas. You purchased a cute neon sign for the wall near your bed and a fluffy comforter. But, after living in this new space for a while, it'll get a little messy. Vacuuming, dusting, and lighting a candle are necessary, and you'll nail down a proper cleaning routine.

3How To Appreciate Your Hometown

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Being away from home for the first time comes with a lot of feels. On the one hand, you're excited to get out of your comfort zone. You've lived in the same place with the same people for years. It's time for a change! On the other hand, you'll realize how much you appreciate the place you get to call "home."

You'll find yourself starting to miss the local diner, or eating dinner with your family on a casual Monday night. So, you'll call up your siblings and catch up on all the latest things going on in their lives. Unfortunately, you can seemingly only learn this lesson when you leave and get to come back. Weird how that works, huh?

4How To Be Patient With Yourself

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Adulting takes a lot of patience. You want to hit the ground running the second you're out on your own. But, that's not quite how it works. In fact, a majority of the time, you make a lot of mistakes before you succeed.

You'll turn your clothes pink by accident, or blow a fuse and need to call a repairman. Don't worry: You're not the only one who is figuring everything out, and the key is to know that it's all part of life.

Take time to step back and realize how great you're doing, and give yourself a pat on the back. The real world isn't straight and narrow, and possibly the most important lesson you'll learn is to take it one step at a time.

5How To Pay A Bill On Time

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Living on your own means paying your own bills on time. Up until now, you may have been covering your car insurance or a gym membership in your town. But, those were all automatic for the most part. Paying a rent check, or the cable company so that you have WiFi, can be an entirely different ball game. Batter up!

You'll have to learn how to manage your finances, and possibly stick to a budget. You may write the due dates in your planner, along with your assignments, just so you don't forget. When all is said and done, you'll feel like you got this adult thing down to a tee.

6How To Start A Conversation

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College comes with a lot of new people. There are the girls you'll meet from down the hall, and the friends from class who share the study guides. You'll get to know your teammates, lunch buddies, and sorority sisters, all in the course of the first semester. It's a whole new world.

Amongst all of those new faces and names, you'll learn how to start a conversation and keep it going. After all, that's the only way to make friends and put yourself out there on campus.

You'll strike up a few words with the person standing behind you in the sandwich line, or speak your mind about the latest episode of The Bachelorette when your roommates are contemplating who should've gotten the last rose. Having this lesson under your belt will pay off in the long run.

7How To Ask For Help

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Asking for help is OK. (Should I say that louder for the people in the back?) Seriously, you're not expected to figure out everything on your own, and helping each other is important, especially when it's your first semester away from home. You're bound to get a little homesick, or lost on campus on your way to class. In those moments, it would be easy to just throw in the towel and head back to your hometown. But, it's time for another lesson.

You know that there are resources and people who would gladly lend you a helping hand. They'll teach you how to work the technology in class, or do you laundry on a Saturday afternoon.

In the future, you'll feel a lot less stressed and overwhelmed knowing you have a solid support system, just like you would at home. Just don't forget to pay it forward, OK?