Stepping over the threshold into my new house and life, I found joy in the little things without an existential crisis. There was a bathroom for two, not 20. There was a parking space in a convenient location. There were no shared walls with loud neighbors. There was no set time to leave the premises for winter break. There were no fire alarms that would immediately call the firefighters to our burning popcorn. There was quiet. There was freedom.
Yes, this is the beauty of living off campus.
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of factors that influence one’s desire to live off campus. For me, I wanted to get away from thin walls and strange college student hours. For others, the freedoms that come with off-campus living are what draw them to a house just down the road. Regardless of reason, the same questions begin to surface as the challenges of off-campus living emerge.
Is this worth it? Am I really that close to campus? Will I ever eat anything other than sandwiches and burned quesadillas? Am I capable of calling the fire department if they are needed? Am I capable of self-regulating my behaviors?
There is no doubt that I have benefitted from the quiet living space that comes with just one roommate and a quiet lower-level apartment mate. No gatherings next to me, no loud speakers below me, no 2 a.m. conversations from the hall, and, generally, no unwanted interruptions around me. This is the life that I have yearned for all three years at Goshen. This is not the problem.
Yet, I’m missing something that I may value more. I’m missing the spontaneous drop-ins, the random conversations, and the unexpected gatherings that come from dorm and campus living. I’m only three blocks away, but the distance seems insurmountable the further we get into the semester. Unfortunately, I believe it will only get worse as the seasons change, the light dims, and the cold winds blow.
So, continuing my relationships ends up relying on my intentionality in interacting with my peers. The peers I have grown with, laughed with and gathered with for the past three years. I can’t help but feel that I am missing out.
Don’t hear me saying the freedom and the quiet isn’t lovely. Don’t assume that I don’t love every second of my RA-free, move-in-and-out-whenever-I-please existence. I’ve already started making plans to leave my apartment at noon instead of 10 a.m. the day after exams are over. But, do think about this: while the desire to be off-campus is warranted, there also may be some losses.