Living off-campus wasn’t a choice I made because of the pandemic. I had my eye on a vacancy in my friends’ apartment all the way back in November, and I signed the lease at the beginning of March, a week before everything turned upside-down. And when everything did turn upside-down and I heard about every sudden change on-campus, I became even more sure than I already was that I made the right decision.
I moved in in July, and I’ve since fallen in love with my apartment. My room is smaller than my room at home, but it’s big enough for everything I need. I finally have a kitchen, and I’ve been cooking more than just quesadillas and mac and cheese, though I do fall back on those two quite a bit. Sitting on the couch in the living room and bingeing my favorite show for the third time was by far the best part of the summer. It’s right in between campus, Hannaford, and Moody Street, and there are three Dunkins within a mile. My roommates are the nicest people in the world, and even though we all have classes and lives and don’t really have time to talk, it’s always a treat when the three of us get a chance to hang out.
But more than once, I’ve found myself sitting in my room wondering if I made a huge mistake, if I should have found a sublet and just stayed home. I’m even more homesick now than I was freshman year, and I think at least 75% of what I’m facing right now would be easier to face if I could do it while hugging my cat.
Because as nice as living off-campus is, it can also be really lonely. Most of my friends on-campus live in a suite together, and I’m acutely aware of the inside jokes and dinner meetups I’m missing. A lot of the fun I have takes place alone in my room, whether it’s watching Netflix or finding a new book to read, and even when I meet up with my friends on Zoom, it can’t compare to being together in-person, even though meeting in-person just isn’t really an option right now. And without my friends around to fill the void, I miss my family even more. I miss my mom’s cooking and my dad’s music taste and playing video games with my sister and the aforementioned cat, the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.
And I won’t lie and say walking to campus is easy, because climbing up from South Street to Mandel, where my only in-person class is, is something I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to. I’m in better shape than I was at home, but at what cost?
But I know I made the right choice, even if it’s hard sometimes. Being more independent is scary, but it’s also fun, and my apartment is cheaper than on-campus housing. Cooking my own meals is hard work, but I can confidently say that I cook pasta better than Sodexo. Plus, if I had stayed home, I would have had a 5AM class due to the time difference, and frankly, I would rather die than take that.