Move off campus  

East Campus is home to the Whitney Dinning Hall and Res Life services. Pink skies are seen over Whitney Feb. 20 in 2022. Photo by Jayden Colon/Daily Campus.

After what’s been a whiplash-inducing college experience and cowering at the fact that graduation could be described as “weeks” away, I’ve been spending more time than usual reflecting on what college has meant to me. The pandemic doesn’t aid this process, as nearly half of our undergraduate experience was tainted in some form, either through online classes or the anxiety-inducing in-person courses I left praying from, hoping I wouldn’t get sick after attending class.  

Due to this, it’s difficult to pinpoint the experiences I value most in retrospect. A few courses fall on this list alongside a couple of outings and events. But if I had to quantify the most positive net value decision I’ve made, it’d be the decision to move off campus.   

While living in a dorm was convenient in many ways — I had a dining hall in my basement and a bus to take me to class every day — there were the obvious drawbacks of sharing a small, oftentimes drabby room with someone else. The lack of privacy, let alone personal space at all — everything is shared when there’s only one room — was enough to push me towards suite and apartment-style living. Yet, the same issues persist, not to mention the unruly room rates associated with on-campus apartments such as Hilltop or Charter Oak. The Oaks? A studio would run you a new Corolla. And for what? To live in Storrs, Connecticut: the state’s dry scalp.  

These were not the only factors that motivated me to leave university housing behind. The bombshell realization that living in a house — when done right — can be significantly cheaper than any on-campus option, as well as a few convincing friends led me to signing my first lease. Now I, at 21 years old, am the proud renter of a not-so-updated home in walking distance of campus with minimal drawbacks — egg water being the main compromise.  

Off-Campus housing listings currently range from $975-4,000 a person in rent. A steep price but for the comfort, a dorm can’t provide. Photo by Photo by Katerina Holmes/Pexels

Are there negatives? I’d hesitate to genuinely refer to any aspect of off-campus living as negative besides perhaps the commute and abundance of parking tickets I’ve acquired throughout the year — Parking Services, if you’re reading this, please accept my appeals. Side note, did you know that Parking Services issued nearly $1,000,000 in citations throughout 2018? We all knew UConn was struggling financially, but why take it out on students?  

Anyways, I like to think of these aspects of the experience as opportunities for personal growth and the acquiring of new skills. No dining hall meant learning to cook for myself beyond the handful of meals I could haphazardly throw together with some confidence that our house would still be standing once I finished cooking. Maintaining shared spaces meant developing a cleaning routine — albeit one which is occasionally neglected — that ensures your space is kept at a certain threshold of cleanliness. Dividing up the fridge remains an ongoing battle, though we’ve relegated some shelves for communal items while others are strictly independent. And while these may seem fairly predictable, some lessons continue to surprise me.  

As an only child — revoke my right to write if I ever start a paragraph like that again — I also had to adapt to living with others my age. As ignorant as this sounds, some 20% of households are composed of only children, meaning a fair number of students have never experienced shared living. Compound this with discovering the trials of sharing a shower with three others and you’ve got yourself a fledgling roommate — i.e., me.  

When cooking on the daily, dishes are quick to pile up. Communicating with your roommates is key to avoiding the occasional dispute. Photo by Photo by Lisa Fotios/Pexels

This is all without mention of the interpersonal conflicts that may arise over dishes or who takes the trash out or the occasional “turn your music down” texts at 1 a.m. Yet, I’d take any of these minor conflicts over sharing a 150 sq. ft. closet and the periodic sexiling. The disputes that emerge from sharing a home are ones which continue well beyond college, as roommates and shared spaces persist well into one’s career and may even arise once you’ve moved in with a partner. Point being, moving off campus prepares oneself for the reality of housing post-college.  

Further, the financial management required to make rent and the diligence necessary to not miss any payments is a crucial life skill. The added burden of paying for housing on a monthly basis, rather than the one-time fee most students opt for when paying for on-campus housing, makes saving and spending your money a delicate task.  

It’s taken a lot of effort to not go on a rant about l*ndlords and their slimy behavior; however, I still believe a home will always trump any dorm or suite-style room — are triples even ethical anymore? As for what the university can do to improve accessibility for commuters and off-campus students, the long-overdue revamping of bus routes and on-campus parking must be instituted. Or better yet, while UConn continues to flaunt its undeserved “Green and Platinum” sustainability status, investments in bike lanes for students who opt not to drive to campus are key.  

Plus, no more quiet hours!  

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