Like many college seniors, I decided it was time to make the move off campus for my last year in college. This meant a bigger bed, my own bathroom, and most importantly, a kitchen. But it also meant learning how to fend for myself (eek). As a not-so-experienced cook, I couldn't help but worry that I wouldn't survive for long without the on-campus food I had become so reliant on.

Little did I realize that living off campus would allow me the opportunity to be more creative, responsible, and explorative with food. Having my own kitchen off campus broadened my palate for the better. 

1. You'll become more adventurous

sauce, sweet
Tabitha Wibowo

Living off campus, you'll be more inclined to try new recipes like those delicious Spoon recipe videos you constantly see pop up on your Facebook news feed. You also don't have to worry about eating that questionable-looking food choice you see sitting in your cafeteria. While grocery shopping, I've tried new food that I never would have considered trusting on campus (example #1: raw sushi).

2. You'll enjoy themed dinners with your roommates

I never would have guessed that cooking would have helped me bond with my roommates. From buying all the materials beforehand, cooking the actual recipe, to cleaning dishes together, it's always a blast. Themed dinners like taco and margarita nights, fried chicken and mac and cheese nights, or a pasta and red wine kind of night, have become a weekly staple in my house. Cooking with my roommates is always guaranteed to be a fun time, and provides a variety of meals to mix up our busy weeks.

3. Say goodbye to boring repetition

Tired of the same exact meal you get at one of approximately three available food options on campus? This is not a problem when you live off campus. While I do often eat leftovers, I find that I don't get stuck in the same repetition and am exposed to way more options off campus that I would never be able to find on campus. In the mood for Indian? Thai? Italian? Off-campus provides all these options and more. You'll also be able to get a larger variety of ingredients in your meals.  

4. You'll get to know the food culture of your college town

While I cook the majority of the week, sometimes life happens and I have no time to cook or buy groceries. This usually results in picking up one of my favorite on-the-go meals from one of Winston Salem's finest restaurants. Whether that's chicken kabobs from Zoe's Kitchen or spicy noodles from Carving Board, I'm never disappointed. Not only does this support local businesses, but it also allows me to discover what Winston Salem cuisine really consists of. 

5. You'll feel healthier and spend less doing so

banana, strawberry
Kathleen Mensing

Who would have thought that eating tastier and healthier food would be cheaper off campus? At first I couldn't believe that I was actually saving money by buying my own groceries and cooking rather than having a set meal plan on campus. Off campus, I'm able to avoid processed food and even find that I snack healthier. I also tend to overeat less and always have a variety of leftovers. I never would have thought living off campus would have resulted in better and tastier meals and a better feeling me.

So yes, living off campus does have all the benefits you dreamed of and more. You'll be exposed to way more food options than campus, and learn to eat healthier and budget your money. Whether you're cooking with your roomies or are trying a new recipe, living off campus makes for a better and more independent you.