Illini Advice: Living Away From Home

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: You finally get to live on your own! But on the inside, you’re secretly panicking, and questions are racing through your head. How do I choose which residence hall to live in? What if I don’t get along with my roommate? Will I starve if I don’t like the food?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most first-year students have the same fears and anxieties, which is why we’re here to help! We asked your fellow Illini, who have been there done that, to share the advice they would give to their past selves. Here’s what they had to say.

students laughing and playing a game together in their dorm room

What was the biggest misconception you had about living in the residence halls?

“The food would be terrible, and I wouldn’t want to spend time there at all. I expected to want to go somewhere else all the time. To my surprise, the people in my hall were polite, and the food was actually good. I was also fine with spending a whole weekend just relaxing in my room.”

Neha, Nugent Hall, Molecular & Cellular Biology

“I thought that they would be loud and crowded, or just not a nice place to live, but this ended up not being the case! There were people around, but it was never overwhelming, the energy was positive, and the facilities themselves were nice.”

Sophia, Nugent Hall, Comparative & World Literature

“I thought it would be hard to live with a roommate.”

Yulu, Allen Hall, Music

“I underestimated the level of community I would find in my residence hall.”

Jonathan, Nugent Hall, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering

“The rooms would be too small and the bathrooms would be dirty.”

Viern, Hopkins Hall, Business Administration

friends eating together in a dining hall

What was your favorite thing about living in the residence halls?

“All the new friends. If you go out and talk with those surrounding you, then you’ll likely have friends for the rest of the semester.”

Jamie, Scott Hall, Agricultural & Consumer Economics

“The various activities organized by the resident advisors and multicultural advocates. It was a great way to meet new people and spend time with friends.”

Mearieta, Allen Hall, Anthropology

“Being able to study and eat with my friends without having to go anywhere other than within the same building. It made getting through college a lot easier, because you essentially live with your friends. Also, because everything is covered under the payment plan, it was easy to do laundry and not have to make my own food.”

Neha, Nugent Hall, Molecular & Cellular Biology

“Living in the residence halls allowed me to make friends outside of my major and feel more connected to the campus. My sophomore year, I became a resident advisor. University Housing is a core part of my community on campus.”

Emily, Bousfield Hall, Undeclared

“You don’t have to cook for yourself or clean your own bathroom. Huge timesaver!”

Angelina, Busey Hall, Music

“I lived close to everything I needed. My building was also on the corner of a bus stop that frequently had buses running.”

Sofia, Busey Hall, Political Science

roommates playing video games together

Do you have a success story from choosing to have a random roommate?

“My roommate turned out to be the best friend I never had. From the very first night of Move-In Day, we decided to go back to our hall after the orientation activities to unpack and go to sleep early, but we spent the whole night talking and getting to know each other. We had so many deep conversations about how we never felt like we fit in in high school, but here, we felt like we met the best people, including each other!”

Rachel, Allen Hall, Business Administration

“Sam and I had never met before the day we moved in. The first time we talked was after University Housing shared our contact info. We talked for weeks before moving in, texting about our families, our hobbies, and our academic interests. After a few months of living together, we were having late-night conversations about everything. We were so lucky to get to live together, and I’m glad to call Sam my friend.”

Sophia, Trelease Hall, Electrical & Computer Engineering

“My roommate is now my best friend! We randomly connected on a web page dedicated to incoming students. We both clicked and decided we should room together. The first couple of days were kind of rocky since we didn’t know each other and it was our first time meeting, but after that, we did everything together!”

Aurora, Wassaja Hall, General Studies Administration

“I personally chose my roommate on Facebook. My two other really close friends, who lived a few doors over, were random roommates too. We are now all close friends. You just have to keep an open mind when coming into a random roommate situation. Leave the judgement outside the door and be willing to compromise. At the end of the day, the two of you are adults and should handle your situations that way.”

Karolina, Oglesby Hall, General Studies Administration

students celebrating their Illini Pride at a football game tailgate party

What advice do you have for incoming students?

“When picking your hall, don’t look at the pictures online; talk to students who lived in the halls first. Call the people you miss the moment you miss them. Don’t sleep too late.”

Allison, Allen Hall, Chemistry

“Don’t stress too much. It seems overwhelming, but you will make friends, you will figure out classes, and you will be okay away from home. As someone who worried about this endlessly and cried when it didn’t happen right away, it will. Be open and ready, and this will be exactly what you’re looking for.”

Rylee, Nugent Hall, General Studies Administration

“You will have access to so many resources when you live on campus. Use them! Libraries, tutoring, clubs, and so much more will be available to you and will help you throughout your college education.”

Michelle, Townsend Hall, Animal Sciences

“I know three things for certain: You need to eat at least two times a day, you need to get a good amount of sleep, and you need to talk to friends and family.”

Andrew, Allen Hall, General Studies Administration

“Moving away on your own for the first time is scary, but don’t let this hinder you from enjoying your first experiences and creating great memories with new friends. Seek a friend who will make you feel happy and at home. Remember, they are experiencing the same fears and doubts that you may experience. It’s important to stick by each other’s side and help guide each other through your new experiences. Also, enjoy every single moment, because before you know it, your first year of college will be over and you’ll reminisce on all the moments you endured during that time. Most of all, welcome to the Illini family!”

Daisy, Wassaja Hall, English

“Be easy on yourself; this is a completely new experience! There will be some new challenges you will face. You won’t nail every single one the first time; let yourself fail a bit and learn from it!”

Katie, Bousfield Hall, Undeclared

Want more advice on navigating the college experience while on campus? Follow University Housing on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

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