As a senior in high school in my beloved hometown, I was living the dream. I had a car complete with all the gizmos and gadgets, a job working at my local campground with babysitting on the side, and most importantly, loving parents that supplied me with home cooked meals. But this 'ain't no' fairytale so fast forward to my freshman year in college where things could not be different. College, in a way works in reverse in the sense that all of those previously mentioned aspects of my 17 year old life were now no where to be found. At the university that I attend, freshman are not permitted to have cars. Although my campus is in the city, one cannot walk everywhere! Which leaves paying for transportation like cabs or Uber as the only other option. Never in my life would I have thought that I would be so lost without my car. Somehow I survived 16 years of it, but now it seemed like an impossibility. It makes going out on the weekends to downtown or the mall that much more pricey because of the added on transportation cost. Next is my lack of an income that has caused some stress in the few months that I have been away. I worked all throughout high school and always had some extra money set aside for recreation. But now I have the pleasure of watching my bank account balance deplete because as we all know, college is no cheap walk in the park. My mom opposed the idea of me getting a job first semester so I could become acclimated to college life and focus on my studies. Of course I could not go against what my mom had told me, moms are always right, but the absence of money to deposit into the bank has forced me to economize and find cheaper ways to achieve what I want. For example renting bikes for free from campus, taking advantage of student discounts, and attending free events in town. Last, but certainly not least is dining hall food. Don't get me wrong, the food is decent, but lets face it, it's not home cooked with love. Naturally my friends and I would venture off campus (walking of course) to local restaurants for an escape from the cold chicken and overcooked pasta. Eventually I realized that I should not make this a habit, after all, my 15 meals a week were already paid for and I was letting them go to waste. I guess I will just have to stick it out until I return home for Thanksgiving and then I can fully indulge in all the delicious home cooked meals I have been missing.
College has been a continuous financial realization for me. It has forced me learn how to spend my money wisely and really stretch those bills. It also taught me how to thrive without the comforts from home. Life becomes challenging without a car to get you easily from point A to point B, no job for almost 4 months, and without your moms cooking, but it is certainly not impossible. And somehow I have almost successfully made it through my first semester of college not completely broke and with decent grades. Seems like a win in my book and a financial challenge conquered.