Living with family while studying can be a little like riding a roller coaster. You never know what’s going to come next.
For me, it’s a struggle day in and day out. From my home, I commute at least two hours each way to and from school in downtown Toronto! I usually start my day at 6 am and don’t finish until midnight, if I’m lucky. Every jam-packed day, I push myself to commute, attend class, do homework, keep up my social life, then mentally prepare myself to come home to chaos. On any given evening, my younger brother is being yelled at—turn off your video games! go study! stop making a mess! etc, etc. My mom’s busy with chores, cleaning the house and coordinating with my dad who won’t be home until late because he’s still out running the family business.
When you live at home as a student, you have to wear many hats. You’re pushed not only to be aware of your own life and what you have to do to succeed at school, but you also have to manage your time so you can be there for your siblings, parents and friends. No day is like another.
Each morning there’s a new set of circumstances that will define my day and I have to figure out how to navigate the terrain in front of me. What happens when my brother is late for school and we need to get to college at the same time but only one car is available? I take one for the team and make sure he gets to school and is hopefully learning away before I rush to catch my train downtown and apologize profusely to my professor. I am constantly being pulled left and right and every direction. My life is a full-blown operation that I share with the immediate people I live with.
First year was the hardest. I had just been introduced to a new world of college, commuting and higher expectations than ever before. There were days I would come home fuming with frustration. Despite my best attempts to make each day a good one, I would have to divert my plans to include managing carpooling with my brothers, helping my dad with admin for the business, participating in extracurricular activities, and explaining to group members who lived close to school how working on a group project in the library into the wee hours of the night was just not possible for me.
I felt like I was both failing and being stripped of an authentic college experience. No matter what I tried to do to ease the stress and pressure by planning in advance and staying organized, my arms were being stretched until I could barely hold it all. I pushed myself to a point where I genuinely hoped I could stay awake for 24 hours. The constant struggle to find enough time to share my day with everybody made me more aggressive, frustrated and simply stressed out. I was running out of time to study and do my best in school trying to stay active and involved with the people who needed me at home.
Now that I’ve given you a taste of the rollercoaster ride that is my life, allow me to share some of the positive elements to living at home. While I have to sacrifice when it comes to my social life and going out with my downtown friends, there is a special feeling of warmth I get that can only be found at home. The saying “there’s no place like home” could not be truer. When I come home after a bad test or a fight with group mates, I always find people who love me waiting at the dinner table ready to hear all about my day and distract me from the constant chaos that is post-secondary education. Family may not always understand what it’s like for me to juggle all of this while I’m still developing my own identity, they are always there for me when I need to escape after a nightmare week.
Living at home is an experience. You’ll cry, you’ll feel like you’re losing a battle with time, but you’ll also find a lot to appreciate. It’s the little things like sharing family dinners, getting help with washing dishes and doing laundry, and having a clean, safe space that feels like home. You never forget that you’re not alone when there is always someone there by your side.
Himanshu Luthra is a degree student at George Brown College. Check him out @the.luthra.life