5 Life Skills I learnt living away from home

I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 18, spent all my twenties living in hostels and paying guest accommodations. To say the least, it has been an amazing experience. Now that I am setting up my own home, I look back at those years with fondness, the years that helped me grow and learn some very important life skills.
But some things are beyond repair πŸ˜›

Stitching – Something as simple as stitching can save your heart from breaking and give you a stress free online shopping experience. ‘When in doubt order a bigger size’ has been my motto, but when the sleeve of the dress starts drooping or the hemline is too long, one needs to know how to twiddle a needle and make it look perfect.Β 
In addition, the charge for altering clothes in Sydney sometimes exceed the price of the dress itself. Ranging from $7 to $35 for just ‘cut and sew’. My mom had packed a sewing kit in my luggage when I said my first Goodbye. Initially, my awesome roommate (appalled by my extraordinary stitching talent) would snatch the Kurtis from my hand and do it for me. But time teaches you stuffs … and this is one of them.

Talking – Being painfully shy meant I had zero confidence to even ask for basic things, like buying potatoes from the Grocery Bhaiya. Moreover, my first workplace was Chennai, which meant I learnt the sign language first and then talking. How to talk to the Cleaning Lady without offending her, how to ask the landlord to provide water every day, how to bargain with Auto bhaiya, how to make friends … sounds like a book by Shiv Khera, but hey, this is how life goes.Β 

I have also learnt to give people the benefit of doubt. The difference in language and accent can sometimes make people sound more rude than they actually are. Β Β 
Cooking“Learn at least one dish that you can cook with confidence, not for anybody else, but for yourself”. This was a piece of advice that my Dad gave me before I left home, which in short meant – learn something that won’t burn the house down. He knows what a disastrous cook I am. The first few months resulted in enormous phone bills when I would call my mom to ask the ratio of water and rice or whether the turmeric goes first or the Chilli powder. In fact I even wrote a post on the Art of Peeling a Potato (which I am still terrible at). Let’s just say over the years, both my husband and I have learnt to survive on each other’s cooking πŸ™‚


Considerate – Living with 150 odd girls surely teach you how to be considerate. To be careful if you are encroaching on the privacy of others, to mince your words before you say it, to be accommodating. Though, I do realize now that back then I had faltered on manyΒ occasions, said or done things that I am not very proud of.Β Probably it’s a part of growing up too, you learn to read between the lines – To make an attempt to understand people, to respect their life choices , opinions and private space.
Love the solitude – When you are surrounded by parents, their siblings and your siblings – living alone is a scary business. So when it is Diwali time and there’s no one around, you got just one solution – ‘Deal with it’, without cribbing to people or on social media. Be it eating alone in restaurants, shop without girlfriends, travel without partner, nursing a wound, movie marathons or cooking just for myself, I have done it all and I love it. Β Not everyone can be there to sort matters for me. All these years away from home have trained me that I can really look after myself, and others too (as long as I don’t watch Conjuring or Annabelle)


I am pretty sure staying away from home has taught you some great skills too. Do share in comments.
Life skills

40 thoughts on “5 Life Skills I learnt living away from home

  1. Enjoyed reading this post so much, Raj! I have never lived alone, as much as I would have liked to back then. But, there are things I learnt after I got married – cooking being one. Being married taught me to be diplomatic with people around, watching my words and my step, too! You don't want to step on people's toes when you live in a joint family, do you? πŸ™‚ And, yes, I am now learning to enjoy my own company, learning that no one's going to be there for me always, that I will have to sort my emotional problems by myself. At times I do bother my close friends, but most of the times, I do it myself. You are true, living away from home does teach you so much about life, about world!

  2. what all life teaches you when you are away from the comforts of your home! I too learnt cooking once I started staying on my own in Bangalore while doing my masters. The food in college canteen was so horrible that I thought it's better to make my own food. And before that I had never entered the kitchen at home!

  3. The sentiment expressed in the comparison between science fiction and a recipe book holds true for me too. Even now I cook what I can and am not for experimenting from a recipe book. The skirt looks like telling a hundred stories πŸ˜€ I had never lived away from parents barring a set of 15 days in which I went to stay in a hostel and came back home by the end of it.

  4. One of the things I learnt to share was a bathroom and this also meant that I had to cut my bath time to two minutes! I also learnt how NOT to share – some girls had the nerve to even borrow your underwear ( yuck!!!) . But it's true, living away from home teaches you a lot .

  5. Wonderful! It's like I told my husband I couldn't cook before we got married and then discovered I could. My parents still thank him for teaching me to cook, although he taught me zilch! πŸ˜‰

  6. oh Yes all the skills discovered when not surrounded by family. I was in that situation when I was 32 years old. I thought it was so funny that I never lived alone in my whole life. For the first time, in my life, I had to make my own decisions and there was no one to ask as phone was not on, blah blah, net was patchy. I survived and learnt a lot. Everyone should do that, once in a lifetime.

  7. That was such a fun read. The experiences that we have and the things that we learn. Amazing! Though you miss their protective cocoon, being on your own really makes you develop skills. I laughed out loud at that skirt picture and also the image you shared for cooking. πŸ˜€

  8. This is such an amazing post Raj! I totally enjoyed it! I have practically never lived alone and am quite envious of….practically the whole world that seems to have done it at some point in life! My elder kid plans to go abroad for further studies and I am pretty daunted when I think how unprepared she is! But I guess it is sometimes good to learn things the hard way. Basic life-skills are what I am trying to tell her pick first, but right now its just falling on deaf ears! Loved this post!

    1. I am pretty sure she will learn a lot and handle situations well when time comes. My dad was pretty insistent on making me live in hostel and learn about life. I was a painfully shy hopeless case πŸ˜›

  9. Ayyo thanni illaye. Enna panradhu?

    Ennamma. Aloo venuma? 50 rupaa kilo.
    50 rupee too much.
    nee IT girl. Kudutha enna?

  10. That skirt's some cool fashion! Reminds me of a fancy dress competition in college when I went as half and half – one side male and the other female. Experience is such a great teacher, Raj! And you're an amazing woman! All I can see is how wonderful you are at writing and photography and your big warm heart! Hugs! Loved your post!

  11. Can't stop laughing at the picture of the skirt. Agree to all you said. I moved out well into my 20s from Lucknow to Bombay! Boy the things I had to learn!

  12. For me it was ironing clothes, washing all my formals myself, learning the routes to places, remembering public transport numbers and reading google maps. It was tough at first but gave me a sense of independence.

  13. I was also 17 when I left home and I would not have it any other way. So many lessons in life living away from family than it feels rich by experiences.
    Yes – Diwali alone and I have never been on social media crying πŸ˜€

  14. These experiences are a few months away for me as I begin my days in a hostel for the first time. I only just have the beginner excitement for now..guess the scary part comes later!

  15. I quite relate to quite a few things here, coz I've been away from home on and off. You seem to have pulled off pretty well! And hey, I guess peeling potatoes sure gets better with practice. πŸ˜‰

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