what living alone in a college dorm for a number of years can do to you

Living alone in a college dorm for a number of years shapes you and your lifestyle in a way that makes it increasingly harder over time for you to go back to living with other people, even if it’s with your family members for a short period of time. I’ve been living in a dorm at Columbia for 4 years now and of those 4 years, 1 year was with a roomie and the other 3, all alone. Fortunately, my parents have been paying for my tuition and room & board and everything, so obviously I’ve been living alone but with the financial support from my parents so I can’t say I’ve been living completely alone independent of the help from my family but I definitely have been living alone in the sense that I’ve been doing everything my way. I wake up when I want to, I eat whatever I want to eat at whatever time of the day, I go to bed at different times every night, I take naps whenever I feel like it, I go out to see my friends and grab drinks whenever I want and I come home at whatever time I want, and there are certain things that I do in my room, and certain habits that I have learned to discover, define, and redefine over the years in this little sphere of me-myself-and-I that have truly become an integral part of my life without even me really realizing it.

My parents moved from New Jersey to Seoul when I started college. Then they moved from Seoul to Busan at the end of 2014. Since then, I’ve made a few trips back and forth from New York to Busan for breaks and honestly speaking, it hasn’t been all that fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my family, I love hanging out with them, I love eating my mom’s food, the street food here in Busan, and just Korean food in general, the view from my apartment is definitely something I cannot complain about to say the least, I love the city of Haeundae and its people. I used to smoke (which I quit now) a Marlboro 27 first thing in the morning outside my dorm, even further dehydrating myself after god knows how many hours of sleep (either 4–5 hours or 10–11 hours, no moderation whatsoever) in that tiny, dry ass room with terrible ventilation and just overall, poor sustainability in every aspect, whereas at home in Busan, my mom brings me a cup of freshly squeezed orange (or carrot, or apple, or anything) juice the moment I walk out into the living room. I eat whatever I feel like eating when I’m at school by myself, without any proper form of consistency in the time periods in between meals, whereas at home in Busan, pretty much every meal is carefully thought through and prepared, simply ready to be eaten, all thanks to my mom. I go to bed & wake up at a much earlier time here at home than I do when I’m at school. I go out a lot less here at home because I share this living space called home with other people aka my parents in this case and that automatically creates room for respect and set of unspoken rules for using and cohabiting in this living space. Despite the city being an absolutely beautiful place (one of the most fun places in all of Korea in my opinion) with great night life, scenic view, the blue sea, food — offering a significantly wider range of shits and giggles than Seoul does, in my opinion — I don’t really have friends in Busan. Almost all of the friends I have in Korea live in Seoul-also explains why I rarely go out here in Busan and instead stay at home most of the time or hang out with the family but you can only do that so much before you get tired of it.

I think the major difference in the way I live in Busan with the family at home and in New York City at Columbia in my dorm alone is the fact that I have a much healthier, and a more well-sustained lifestyle in Busan. But that’s what I have a problem with. As ironic and ungrateful as it sounds, it just isn’t that easy to suddenly go back to having others in your living space even if that means a healthier and a more well-sustained lifestyle. After 4 years of living alone in a college dorm, even 2 weeks of living with the family gets tough at times and to clarify again, in no way am I saying that I don’t like spending time with my family — they are the light of my life, my biggest supporters and fans and I love them with all of my heart but I’m just saying that having lived alone for 4 years has shaped me in a way that makes it difficult to all of a sudden put a stop of everything I’ve been doing for those last 4 years in my little own sphere and suddenly go back 5–6 years to pick up where I’d left off in this cohabiting living space.

This post was difficult to write because even I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about this jumble of uncertain thoughts. I don’t think I did an adequate job this time of putting my thoughts on the matter into words..I should probably read more and stop spending so much time on the Internet.

view from the living room
marine city, busan
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