Moving away from your family home for the first time can be a daunting part of life but also an exciting one.

It’s a chance to set new boundaries for yourself, build on your study habits and take steps towards becoming the person you’ll be after your degree. If you grew up in Lethbridge and are staying with family, university will still constitute a significant life change, with new responsibilities and expectations.

New boundaries

If you choose to live at home while in university, you may have to establish some new boundaries with your family. While babysitting your younger sister every day after school might have worked in the past, you may need to have conversations with your family about new expectations  if you have evening classes! Around midterm time, maybe the house needs to be quieter, or else you’ll be spending a lot less time with family and more in the library. Perhaps you could ask for a break from helping during exam time, with the understanding you’ll pick up the slack next week. Maybe that vacation they’re planning over reading week might not work for you this year! Remember, parents and roommates are also adapting to these new changes and challenges, and kindness is always the best policy.

New roomates

It’s important to set the tone early on when living with new roommates—going over who does chores and when, at the beginning of the year, is a great way to avoid arguments later down the road. Establish new routines that don’t conflict with your study schedule but still allow you to pull your weight in the living space. Information about living in residence is available on the housing website, as well as information for those looking to live off-campus! For those living in residence, student Residence Assistants (RAs) will be there to help you every step of the way, so be sure to follow @officialulethhousing on social media for updates.

New responsibilities

You are now responsible for creating your schedule and keeping on top of what can feel like a million dates and deadlines. Perhaps, use a calendar and set reminders so that you never miss a thing. Consider taking a break from studying by choosing a weekday for laundry and groceries. Different habits work for different folks. What’s important is finding what works for you and sticking to it—more on keeping your school calendar organized in ULife Hack #6 Study Hard & Connect. One great way to keep on top of opportunities and important updates is to follow @ulethbridge and @ulethbridgeartsci on socials.

Meal plan

For students staying in first-year residence, dining plans are mandatory. However, the Residence Dining Plan is still an option for students staying in mature student residences or off-campus. Learn more about the dining plan. You can also download the ‘Boost App’ to order your food ahead of time if you’re in a rush for class and beat the lineups.  

The Residence Dining Plan is split into ‘Base Dollars’ and ‘Flex Dollars. You can spend Base Dollars at Urban Market, Booster Juice, Carvery & Bakery (in the Science Commons), Subway, Starbucks, and Tim Hortons. Flex dollars can be spent anywhere else, including vending machines and laundry machines in residence, except for kiosks in the Students’ Union Food Court on the second level of the Students’ Union building. Flex dollars don’t expire at the end of the year.  

Learn about what is covered by Base and Flex dollars. View your Residence Dining Plan and Bridge Bucks funds. ‘Bridge Bucks’ is another word for your base/flex dollars.

If you struggle with food insecurity, check out ULife Hack #9 Ask for Help.

Health & Dental

Knowing where to go if you feel unwell or need a checkup is essential. ULethbridge’s Health Centre, located in SU020, is down two flights of stairs in the SU. They offer non-emergency medical care such as ‘mental health management and treatment, referral to appropriate specialists, skin conditions, colds/flu/sore throats, and acute and chronic health conditions.’ They offer preventative care such as ‘STI screening and testing, contraceptive counselling, and pap tests, as well as medical procedures such as wart treatments.’ As a ULethbridge student, you can access the Health Centre by emailing, calling 403-329-02484, or making an appointment in person for another time, as this is not a walk-in clinic.

ULethbridge’s health and dental plan is included in your student fees. If you already have insurance under your parents or your work, you may opt-out of the health and dental plan to save this portion of your expenses. You can do this on the Bridge, under ‘Student’ and then ‘Health and Dental Opt-Out Form.’

Sports & rec

Inside the First-Choice Savings Centre is the Fitness Centre, Max Bell Regional Aquatic Centre, and Ascent Climbing Centre, among other spaces. All of this is available and covered in your student fees! In my first year at ULethbridge, I went to the climbing centre and had fun on the wall using an automatic belay system (where you don’t need a partner to work with). Learn more about drop-in schedules and the group programs included in your fees. The people at the front desk will be happy to assist you in touring the gym, renting basketballs or other equipment, and explaining what is included in your student fees. Be sure to get your money’s worth!



“If you’re living away from home for the first time, you’re going to realize things won’t get done unless you do them. You’ll have to learn how to make simple meals. It’s better to learn those skills early so that you can live healthier and cheaper.” - Jace

“Cheese is SO EXPENSIVE! Haha, but seriously, if you can live alone, do it. You learn a lot about yourself, and it forces you to be independent, and you might not have many chances to do it. The biggest shock would be how much I don’t actually know about myself and the world, but I think you really start to find yourself in uni.” - Haley G

“Living away from home for the first time can be a bit intimidating, but the best thing you can do to make your new place feel like home is personalizing it. There are many low-budget ways you can make your new place in residence feel a bit more like your own space, and it can be a fun way to de-stress from classes.” - Alyssa

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that moving away from home at 18 is actually a pretty big deal. We tend to brush it off because so many of us do start university right out of high school, but it can be an overwhelming time for a lot of reasons, and that’s okay.” - Amy

“Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice or Google things you don’t know how to do, no matter how stupid the question may seem. I promise you we’ve all been there before!” - Cayley

Living at home; or not

“I enjoyed living at home. It was less stressful, and I didn’t have to worry about who my roommates would be. When I eventually moved out, I learned how important it is to budget appropriately and resist impulse buying to live within your means.” - Victoria

“My best advice is to do what is best for you and your situation! Don’t let your friends or family convince you to do something that they think is best. You need to do what will help you grow and succeed during your studies. Don’t be afraid to move or look for better options if you are struggling!” - Madeline

“I chose to live away from home for my university degree. My biggest advice would be to find a good support system willing to help when needed. Mine was distant family that lived nearby, and I have called on them several times for help. The biggest shock of living away from home was budgeting expenses for the semester. I would suggest trying to learn not only how to cook but also to cook on a budget.” - Nicko


Healthy living

“Learn how to cook! It’s super easy to rely on frozen pizza and takeout, but you need your veggies! Learning how to cook and saving leftovers for busy exam times has been super helpful.” - Anonymous

“It takes so much time to do the basic things, like getting groceries, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. But make sure you actually do those things. I don’t think you can do well academically or mentally if you don’t have a solid foundation. Make sure to look after yourself. Self-care is making sure you have a clean place to live and good food to eat.” - Katrina

“Try and do an activity outside of your home a few times a week. Go for a walk, run an errand, or even get ice cream. You can easily get stuck in a routine and forget to take a moment to relax even if it’s just a quick 15-minute break out of the house.” - Chloe

Study tips

“I use an excel spreadsheet with absolutely everything from readings, to assignments, to tests. I put it all into excel and sort it by the due date. I always start an assignment at least a week before it’s due to make sure I never run out of time.” - Kathleen

“I stayed organized by allotting a certain number of days each week to complete school work and a certain number of days for socializing and extracurricular activities. For me, it wasn’t necessarily a set schedule. I moved this around based on breaks I needed, and time each assignment needed.” - Angelica

“I treated school like a 9-5 job. If you spend eight hours a day at school, you usually won’t have to spend time outside of that or on the weekends on coursework. It gives you some freedom from constantly thinking about that next assignment that you have to do and be able to enjoy the weekend.” - Jace

Using a planner or a calendar

“I have about five different calenders/planners around my house that have deadlines on them. I write due dates down as soon as they’re assigned so that nothing gets forgotten or missed. It’s easy to forget a deadline if you’re swamped with assignments, so having them written down is super helpful.” - Cassie

“I stay organized using Trello, Google calendar, and Google Drive. They are all essential to keep on top of things. I make events in my Google calendar to plan out blocks of my day in advance. If you fill up all of your time, including sleep, then you just have to follow your schedule.” - Derek

“I used Google calendar to keep track of important dates (assignments, quizzes, exams). I prioritized my tasks based on their weight.” - Cassady

“Calendars and day planners will be your best friend. Writing down important assignment deadlines is crucial, but keeping track of when readings need to be done is also important for keeping yourself on track. Scheduling time for yourself is also crucial - you need time outside of school!” - Alyssa

“I make sure to have a backpack with me and make sure I have all the essentials in there (pens, pencils, erasers, laptop, charger, water bottle, etc). I also had an agenda where I wrote important dates down. To-do lists also really helped me stay on task and prioritize.” - Skylar

“Lists!! At the beginning of the semester, I would write my assignments, essays and tests in a calendar for each month. I would then write lists for my weekly and daily tasks. Include your errands like groceries. Utilize breaks to socialize or get some homework done. Friday nights are a good time to fit in activities. It’s important to give yourself a break at the end of the week.” - Chloe

“My first year is when I had a social life, which cost me my grades. The best way to balance school and activities is by combining them. Have friends you sit with, study and do school work with. Keep assignments and due dates organized in a planner and always look weeks in advance as papers and research take longer than a night.” - Cheyenne

“The way that I stay organized is from using a bullet journal—a style of journalling where I design and draw the layout. Not only does it keep me incredibly organized, but it is also a fun small art project to do every month. This is also how I balance school and activities—I have a complete plan for the day, week, and month. Knowing exactly what you have to do in a week makes doing them much easier.” - Nicko


A year. A class. An event. A club.

“It was a month after starting university. I lived in residence, so it was easier to go explore campus and become more familiar with it.” - Jace

“In my second year, I began to feel more at home on campus because my classes were smaller, making it easier to get to know my colleagues and professors. Smaller class sizes also helped in the formation of a close-knit community among the students!” - Zaynab

“Probably third/fourth year. After switching from drama, I settled into my new major and felt like I was doing all the right classes and found my true friends. You can make anywhere feel like home if you’ve got true friends.” - Haley G

“I always felt safe and satisfied on campus, but I finally felt at home in my third year. Something just clicked for me. I was doing well in classes, and now I feel like this place is my home. Knowing I will have to leave eventually makes me so sad!” - Kathleen

“I started to feel at home during the summer of 2021 when I was working in a neuroscience lab as a summer student.” -  Elisha

“Once I started working in a lab and doing my independent studies. That is when I started discovering my academic interests.” - Haley S

“Once I started making strong connections with my professors.” - Alyssa

“The first time I stepped onto campus in my second year, I felt like I was somewhere I belonged, especially because my entire first year was online. I felt like I knew my place, where I was, what I was supposed to be doing, and where I was going. It was just a very strong feeling that this is home and where I’m meant to be.” - Caileigh

“I felt at home on campus when I switched my major to anthropology and started taking courses from the same department of professors with a lot of the same students. The Department of Anthropology feels like it’s own little community on campus; we all know each other and love to hear what projects everyone may be working on.” - Amy

“I started to feel more at home on campus when I started making friends, as well as utilizing all the services and facilities such as the UPass, going to the library, working out at the gym and playing sports.” - Cassady