I arrived in Australia in February 2014 to pursue a degree in Master of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne. After arriving in Melbourne, I was lucky to have a very smooth transition in adapting to my life in my residential college where I lived and quickly, effortlessly settled in. I found new, kind friends who were willing to help me. Halfway through the program, I realised the Master’s program was not for me. What should I do? Basically I have 2 choices: endure it and continue the program or maybe I can change my major. I chose option number 2 and to this day I will not regret this choice because I believe this is where my path lies.
My transition to my new life in the new program was extremely difficult, although come to think of it, the city did not change: it was still Melbourne, Australia. It was not the new program that made it so difficult, it was where I lived as well as my social living condition. I am now living alone and that made all the differences. Below are the plus and minus of living alone:
1. Living alone means that you might not know your neighbours, although it is of course an ideal place for studying.
Previously I lived at a residential college, full of people 24/7 so this was a very huge difference for me because now I am living in a one-bedroom apartment, very near to my new university but I do not know anyone here. I know that I can add my friends by joining clubs and associations and participating in Indonesian Student Association for example. That was one way to solve my problem, which I did do. Living alone is great though for studying because no one will bother you.
2. Living alone trains your independence.
From the very first week before I moved in, I was told to set up my electricity by myself by calling the electricity company and setting up an appointment for them to turn on the power in my new place. I also had to turn the electricity completely off (there was an electricity box apparently). Moreover, the location of my new apartment was very far – one hour from my old place – and requiring me to use tram, train as well as bus. Not knowing the direction, I had to do extensive research on the street to reach it. It was very stressful to try finding it, get lost, ask someone and so on. I had to go to the agent’s company to get the key, 30 minutes from my old place by train and walking. It was crazy. Moving in and out with your many stuff was also troublesome. Despite all the difficulties, the fact that it teaches me independence makes it totally worth it.
3. Living alone trains your skills to fix things and do household chores.
What happened if your bathroom light bulb went off? What happened if there was something broken? You probably have to fix it yourself, especially if it is only light bulb. Have you ever done it? Now, your skill to fix things is tested. At home in Indonesia, usually my father changed our light bulb, now a girl like me had to do it. Throwing up rubbish? Wiping out furniture? Sweeping and mopping the floor? Washing the dishes and clothes? Changing the sheet? Cleaning the bathroom? All yours. No maid, sorry.
4. Living alone also improves your cooking skills.
Food is expensive in Australia and you will save a lot if you cook at home. Hence, you will improve your cooking skills if you live alone or even when you live with friends and food is not provided like in residential colleges.
5. Living alone also makes you be more careful about money.
Living without your parents of course will make you be more careful about money. Monthly budgeting has to be done so that expenses will not spiral out of control. Sometimes, when you live with friends, you can split utility bills and food expenses, but now you have to be more calculating toward your expenses.
Living alone is of course not for everyone. I realise that fact. There are people who do not like or simply endure the beautiful life of living alone. It’s your choice, so choose wisely!
Photo: Behzad No, used under Creative Commons License