Dorms, apartments and rental homes — the hallmarks of college living. Whether you get back from a late night out or wander home from an exhausting study session at the library, everyone wants a good, safe place to go home to. I’m sure everyone reading this has figured out though, college accommodations are very different from life back at home.
You go from your established personal and family spaces to now sharing everything with people you just met. You now have to deal with unfamiliar washing machines, communal showers, microwaves and other amenities that will find some astounding way to surprise or confuse you. You will be forced to go outside at 9 a.m. on a cold day because someone you live with burnt a mug cake in the kitchen and set the fire alarm off. You may see some disgusting thing in the elevator that will soon make its way to Instagram. These things are all part of the standard experience — you have to be adaptive and roll with those punches.
That’s not to say that any of that builds to a bad experience. One of the two most formative places for my college experience was the Holmes Hall lounge (the other being the radio area of the Roy H. Park Hall). By joining in on some movie nights and meeting some neighbors, I’ve met not only lifelong friends but also partners in student organizations’ creation and management. Having this kind of shared space brings people together, and while there are inevitably some frustrations and drama from doing so, it can be really great for forging relationships if you take advantage.
One thing I don’t think is talked about enough is the routes and routines that have to be established and re-established each year and season. When you get further along in your college career, you typically move farther away from the campus core. This means it is more and more necessary to take account of how you get to your classes. Do you, as I did, take a scooter with you to get from Emerson Hall to Park each morning? Do you use your car or a bus to go from your apartment or off-campus home to campus? How long will that take? And once it gets cold in the winter? It all changes. Bikes and scooters, which I am a huge advocate for, become less viable. You have to layer up and take more time to make sure your car is ready to go and that you are sufficiently warm, and your shoes will be caked with salt. In many ways, I miss that five-to-ten minute walk from dorm to class; enjoy it while it lasts.
Despite moving into my last semester, I, unfortunately, can’t offer much advice regarding apartments or off-campus living. Plans were shifted around heavily due to the pandemic, living with my parents fully remote for the fall last year, commuting in the spring and now I’m living in the student accommodations in London that were recommended due to the pandemic’s strain on the rental market here, among other reasons. It was definitely a culture shock moving from free reign in my home to a small apartment with nine other residents, but like any of the other living arrangements in college, you meet new friends, you face some drama and have to roll with the punches, taking lessons along the way.