Living off-campus with 10 roommates
If you told freshman me I would be living with 10 other females — willingly — for two years as a college student, I probably would have laughed in your face, vomited or passed out. Not really, but I most definitely wouldn’t have believed it.
But, alas. Here I am, a 22-year-old female living in conditions that I estimate can only be compared to fraternity houses (on clean days).
I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen the bottom of my sink. Is it silver? Black? Does it miss me like I miss it?
The two trash cans in the kitchen — yes, there are two; no, two is not enough — are constantly being dumped throughout the day. And by dumped I mean stuffed to the brim until melted ice cream drips onto the floor causing one roommate to slip, fall and decide to take out the trash.
It might seem a little rough, thinking about the messiness of an 11-person home, but those negatives are almost always clouded with the incredible memories I’ve made with my best friends. (I say ‘almost’ because the thought of our trash mountain is in my head as I write this.)
But each night when I come home I see a living room filled with at least six people — sometimes crying from “This Is Us,” sometimes belting “Chunky” by Bruno Mars, and sometimes just sitting there, talking and enjoying the time left at 1996 Indianola Ave.
Always having company or having someone to talk with is an incredible gift. And I’ve got 10 of those gifts each day. That sounded incredibly cheesy, but don’t worry. Those “gifts” will give me crap for it after reading this.
In addition to having that constant support, there’s always someone to go to the library with, beg for a ride from or bicker at.
When we go out together, it’s in numbers. We look like a herd of lost freshmen — not the Spring Semester freshmen, the Autumn Semester high-school-class-size freshmen, the ones who are on the way to attend their first college party.
The herd also can be useful on cleaning days. I think we’ve had one. But the large number of people definitely made it go quick.
So, would I recommend the mess, trash mountains and constant noise? Some days, no. Would I recommend the late-night jam sessions, dependable friendships and pack of wolves? Most days, yes.
Because at the end of the day, college is about pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. And living with 10 people with different backgrounds, cleanliness patterns and views will surely get you there.
Living alone in a dorm
Like most second-years facing the expiration of their two-year live on-campus requirement, last year I found myself scouring housing listings and touring places every weekend.
The housing process was a whirlwind. It seemed like every place my intended roommates and I looked at had some minor caveat that we couldn’t agree on, or, even worse, it was off the market before we had the opportunity to sign.
Thus, by November, I found myself submitting an application for a resident adviser position, ending the talks of whether living close to campus was more important than rent prices or whether one bathroom would be enough.
Living alone might just be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me — I don’t have to worry about disturbing my roommates if I get up in the middle of the night or leave the television on; I can leave my laundry out if I’m feeling lazy and dishes don’t need to be washed the second I’m done using them; the only guests in my room are people I’ve invited over and presumably don’t mind; noise is limited to the neighbors.
My room is a haven that I can come home to and just relax without worrying about other people.
That’s not to say I’m entirely antisocial.
If I want to see my friends, they’re one phone call away, most of them living nearby. Plus, as an RA, I always have my residents to say hello to or engage in a friendly chat. After all, I attend a university that has more than 60,000 enrolled students; it’s not like I’m lacking in the social department.
There are some days when I imagine what it would look like had my roommates and I found the perfect house. Then I think about how much I enjoy not having to worry about splitting groceries, figuring out bills or arguing over decor, and I appreciate my little sanctuary a bit more.
I’ve lived with roommates before, having spent the first two years of career trapped in a shoebox-sized space with another human being less than 6 feet away at all times. If that’s not a true bonding experience then I don’t know what is. I thought that by living alone I might miss that. Then, I take a moment to appreciate the absolute silence and recognize that those days are over for a reason.
Solitude is a blessing — the only mess I have to worry about is my own, guests are at my own discretion, and I can wear pajama pants all day long and there isn’t a soul around to judge me for it. If I spend all day eating peanut butter directly from the jar watching “New Girl,” there’s nobody to condescendingly ask how my classes are going and suggest that sweatpants are to be worn in moderation.
I love my friends and I loved my roommates of years past, but frankly I wouldn’t trade having my own space for anything. My room is a retreat from the chaos and 10 roommates sounds a bit more like a zoo.