by Dylan Ruffra
As I have started my first year as a #SAGrad it has given me a lot of things to think about. For me it has been a growing experience being on my own. When I was an undergrad I had the opportunity of having different meal plans, only being two hours away from home and living in a small space. Being in graduate school I have not always had some of these luxuries. I am living fifteen hours away from home, may not always have time to go the dinning center and have a big apartment now. I wanted to reach out to those coming into the field and give them some lessons that I have learned.
- Prepping Is Key- Through my internship this summer I have learned the importance of meal prepping. It is so much easier and convenient to have all your meals planned out where all you have to do is heat them up. During the school year life gets so hectic that you can sometimes not want to walk to the dinning center or want to make a whole meal. I have found this is always a much easier option.
- Buy Early and Save- Airplane tickets are not a cheap expense. As you are buying plane tickets for going home or to a conference the earlier you buy them, the less expensive they will be. This will take more planning ahead of time, but it will pay off in the long haul (pun intended).
- Budget Early- It is important to plan ahead where you plan to spend your money. I would try to make a spread sheet for each semester and know what you are going to do with your paychecks. For me this year it was important to put 30-40% of my paycheck in my savings account. This helped with trying to save for student loan debt, once I have to start repaying it.
- Take Rewards- Many restaurants and stores have rewards programs. The more you buy, the more you save. You’re often included on special deals and discounts and special promotions. Often, there is no charge for signing up.
- Phone Calls Help- For me being 15 hours away, it always helped talking on the phone to friends and family. These were the phone calls that made my week all the more exciting. I always tried to call home at least once a week
These are some of the steps I have used this past year while gaining my independence. It has been a unique experience being so far away from home, but I would say making new friends has definitely helped with the transition. It has been great being on my own and it has been something I have really learned from. I feel like during the last year of grad school my adventures are yet to come.