The art of making it on your own

For the past 11 years, I lived far away from my family. In this time I saw people of different age groups who were far away from home but didn’t do so great at times, or not all. Some had trouble with money. Some didn’t know how to do the laundry or cook. Some of them kept reaching for their parent’s help because they couldn’t do without them. So here some advice on how to make it on your own, from my own experiences.

Don’t listen to people who say you can’t make it!

When I first left home I was 15. Yes, 15. And I didn’t run away like some sort of rebellious child. At the age of 14–15 I had to make a decision about high school. Most of my peers decided to go to a school in their hometown, while I chose a school 60km away from home. A few of my teachers encouraged me and gave me their blessing. They were proud of me. But a few of my friends told me that I was too young, at such a fragile age. And wouldn’t I miss my family? Some even told me that I needed a thick skin if I wanted to make it in the big city and that maybe I didn’t have it in me.

Whatever the people around you will tell you, believe in yourself! Because at the end of the day, what matters is your opinion and what you think of yourself. My mother supported me the best she could, and not for once did she say no after that day when I told her about my plans. Once I got to the new city I met a lot of students like me, who had the same big ambitions and dreams. These were the people I wanted to be around!

Keep in touch with friends and family but don’t depend on them!

Starting a new chapter of your life in a new city can be challenging and lonesome. After all, you’re far away from home, family, and friends. Keeping in touch with loved ones will give you some reassurance and feelings of love and safety. But leaving the nest also means leaving those who took care of you. It’s time to take matters in your own hands: make decisions on your own, build a new routine, make new friends!

Learn how to cook and clean!

When I was 11 or 12 my stepdad taught me how to iron my clothes. Having busy parents and siblings I also had to learn to make food, but mostly all I did was sandwiches and french fries. At the age of 14 I started doing my own laundry. At university I met a lot of students who had just left home for the first time. And they were indeed bad at a lot of these things. I saw wet clothes dripping so hard they left a puddle in the room. Frying pans caught fire and cooked meals came out of a can or a microwave. Dishes would pile up in the kitchen and there was moldy food in the fridge. Part of growing up and living alone in a new city also means learning how to do these things. Some of them you can learn from online blogs and videos. But if you don’t know how to wash out blood stains you can call your mom and ask for advice.

Embrace new opportunities and adventures!

Living in a new city will open a lot of new doors for you. So far I have lived in three different cities since I moved away from home at age 15. During high school I was not keen on going on adventures and would rather sit inside and read books or study. But when I moved to Vienna/Austria five years later I realized that this was a big chance for me to live my life the way I wanted. To find out who I am as a person, what dreams I have, to make my own rules and to spend my days in a way that reflects who I am. Living abroad in a big new city also gave me the opportunity to learn new things, to visit museums and go places other people only dream of. Studying here at the University I had the possibility to read new books and fill my mind with new ideas. This is your chance to self-discovery and self-improvement. Don’t waste it!

If you need money, look for a job. Any job!

After graduation we are often asked what we want to do with our lives. We often choose to study something we are passionate about or something our parents think might get us a well paid job. But sometimes we might need to start working before graduation to support ourselves. When I looked for a job, I didn’t have a degree yet. I didn’t know much about applying for jobs and I didn’t have any job experience. I didn’t know what my abilities were and how any of this would land me a job. For a long time I applied to various jobs without ever getting a reply. From anyone. Not even a rejection. I was not ready for an interview nor a job until the day I got invited to an interview. I didn’t know how I was the right person for a job at a hotel, that was a little too far away from where I lived. It didn’t have anything to do with my academic studies. But that interview was all that mattered. I did some research on how to get there, to be able to start work on time. I had a plan and I figured out how I could be a good fit for the job so I could answer all the questions at that interview. Being invested in what you do and having a plan ready will help you get a job. And for the beginning a job that pays the bills is a job that will do. Whatever job that is.


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