I Maybe Kind of Miss My Dorm: A Collegiette™’s Guide to Adjusting to Collegetown

I spent all of last year living in a beautiful suite in Becker House on West Campus. I had my own room, a common room that I shared with four good friends, and a dining hall within the building. In fact, despite the utterly awful walk up the slope to class every day, it was pretty much the ideal living situation.

So why did I just spend an hour trying to screw the pipes back into the sink of my tiny Collegetown apartment? The rent isn’t much cheaper than living on campus, I have to make all of my own food (which has led to some interesting experiments- ask me about my tuna mac and cheese!), live in a much smaller space without my own room, and clean the bathroom with only the help of my roommates. All that independence I craved living in a dorm last year seems a lot less glamorous now that I’m in the midst of it.

Alas, we can’t stay in the dorms forever- and most of us wouldn’t want to. So based on my approximately two weeks of experience living in Collegetown, I present to you the best ways to adjust to a Collegetown life.
1)    Don’t Abandon Your Meal Plan
Trust me when I say that last year by around November, I wanted nothing more than to be done with mass-produced dining hall food. But because I have a decent amount of underclassmen friends who are still living in dorms, I decided to go for a meal plan that gave me ten meals a semester. And after eating an awful amount of pasta over the last few days, I know that I will welcome an all-you-can-eat meal that I don’t have to prepare. (This is especially applicable to some of the exciting Okenshield’s meals. Lobster and a steak for a meal swipe? Yes please.)
2)    Live With People Who Like to Clean
One of my good friends seemed, until we became roommates, like a perfectly normal human being. But as soon as we shared a bathroom, THAT ALL CHANGED. For the better! You see, it turns out she has compulsive bathroom cleaning habits. The second day after we all moved in she scrubbed the bathroom for a full two hours, and has done it again since. With her taking care of the bathroom, it stays relatively clean- certainly a lot cleaner than it would stay if I was taking care of it without her.
Moral of the story? Examine the backgrounds of all your friends, detective-style, until you find the ones that are the absolute cleanest. Then, only live with them! If that’s not your ideal situation… well, at least invest in a good scrubbing solution and set up a chore rotation. Bathrooms get dirty, folks. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t scrub what they soil.
3)    Experimenting is Fun!
Getting back to the subject of food (because in my mind, it’s always only a short jump to the subject of food), you aren’t going to be a gourmet chef when living in a Collegetown apartment I know, I know- you love to cook! All those years of baking cookies in a tiny dorm kitchen are finally over! You will be able to make a soufflé every night! Maybe two!

Yeah, abandon that fantasy. Not only are groceries much more expensive than you have probably anticipated, you just won’t have the time (or the cabinet space) to cook extremely complicated meals. After you’ve eaten pasta and sauce for three nights in a row, you’re going to need something to look forward to so that you don’t start taking all of your meals at CTB. (A good solution in theory, but in practice much too expensive for everyday use.) This is where experimenting comes in. Sitting in class the other day, I was only able to convince myself to go home for lunch by deciding to mix a can of tuna with a box of easy mac and see what happened. (As a fan of both the tuna melt and tuna noodle casserole, this seemed like a tasty idea.) In actuality it just tasted okay, but it saved me seven dollars on a sandwich. And who knows? Experimenting might provide you with your favorite new meal.
4)    Have Friends, Not Just Roommates
Living in a dorm, it seemed like many of my friends were right down the hall- because they were. These days, though I’m living with three of my close friends, I feel a lot further away from the rest of my gang- because I am. (Funny how that keeps happening.) Luckily, this problem is easily solved by making the effort to visit your other friends. Besides, chances are that they, too, are living in groups of people that you enjoy, so that you can visit a lot of them at once! For example, my boyfriend and a bunch of my good friends have a house together, making it easy/convenient to see a ton of them at once. Directly on the way to their house I pass the apartment where another group of close friends live, whom I can visit on the way. When you think about it, Collegetown isn’t THAT much bigger than, say, North Campus was- and since you made the effort to visit your friends there, you should do the same in your fancy new apartment.
I can’t promise that living in Collegetown will be a completely smooth transition- there will be hilarious misadventures along the way that will make you shake your head in wonder that you ever left the safety of a dorm. But power through the adjustment, and soon C-town living will be as easy for you as sleeping through that 9:05 class in Morrison. (Seriously, is that even considered part of campus?)

Best of luck, collegiettes™!