Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 8, 2012

Out of dorms: highs, lows of living off campus

Many upper-class students choose to leave the bubble of college dorm life every year and move into off-campus living arrangements with differing degrees of comfort, cleanliness and character.

Despite subpar, or, in some cases, far better living conditions, students enjoy the freedom and responsibility that comes with moving off campus.

“I like having a more independent living style,” junior Maddie Mandel said. “Especially when I’m preparing for post-graduation.”

In addition to paying rent, cleaning and dealing with landlords, one of the new challenges many students take on is cooking.

“I take the time to prepare all my own meals, which I feel is part of being an adult,” senior Destiny Ziebol said. Ziebol said that living off-campus is much closer to the system in Germany, where student dorms are more like “communal apartment buildings,” and students all cook for themselves.

“It’s all about growing up and responsibility,” senior Aparna Kumar said.

But, depending on where you live, this lesson on growing up is also a lesson on facing the oddities of apartments available to students near campus.

“The Yellows”

One of the most well-known off-campus residences for students, the yellows, lies just north of campus on Simmons Street.

“It has more character than an average dorm but it’s a little dirty and grungy … and musty,” senior Yellow’s resident Jenna Temkin said. “No matter how hard you scrub, there are some things that you can’t scrub away.”

In addition to the dirt, Temkin once came home to a large pile of snow in her bedroom, which surprisingly did not melt because her room, the sun room, is always cold.

Although the living and dining rooms are a “good size,” Temkin, as someone who likes to cook and bake, is often frustrated by the lack of space in the kitchen, especially the lack of counter and oven space.

“Our oven is like an Easy Bake oven … it’s a struggle,” she said.

On the other hand, Temkin enjoys some of the character of the building, such as the claw-foot bathtub and the fact that there is always a band playing, which she described as “having a concert” all the time.

“Old SNu”

Named for an old fraternity house, Old SNu is located on S. West St.

“It’s really roomy,” Kumar said. “It looks small on the outside but there’s a lot of room when you walk in.”

It tends to get very warm in the summer and cold in the winter, especially Kumar’s room, which is the sunroom.

One of the most unique features of Kumar’s apartment is that it has both a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, a fact she is very proud of.

Another unique, though less useful part of the building is the engraved owl over the fireplace; Kumar has no knowledge of its origins.

“Across the street from Kaldi’s”

Located on Simmons St., across the street from the Beanhive, Ziebol’s apartment is in remarkably good condition, she said.

“It’s nice. It’s spacious and much better than I though I’d get for the price,” Ziebol said.

According to Ziebol, her building was recently redone and the apartment has all-new appliances that work well, including good laundry facilities.

She said her landlord is “awesome; he’s the coolest guy, … happy to communicate with us about anything.”

Ziebol could barely find any negative aspects of her apartment, except for the fact that it is right next to Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar, which, “depending on how you look at it, it’s either really convenient or really inconvenient,” she said.

“The Babeplex”

The residents of this house, located near the corner of Monmouth Blvd. and W. South St. lovingly refer to it as “the babeplex,” a name lifted from last year’s residents, who called it “the dudeplex.”

“It’s not a place most people would want to live for an extended period of time,” senior Emma Swanson, who lives in the house, said.

Swanson’s complaints include the terrible insulation, causing the house to be freezing in the winter, the “kind of busted” toilet and the strange location of light switches. In the bathroom one has to walk inside and close the door before turning on the light.

Possibly the most frustrating thing for Swanson is that the landlord lives in California and the property manager is unresponsive to problems. When their roof was leaking “pretty substantially” in the fall, it took until winter break to get the problem fixed.

“He knew it’d been happening,” Swanson said, explaining that the problem had not just come up, but had been an issue the landlord and manager had been reluctant to fix for a while.

The house does have some good features, including a big kitchen, new appliances and two porches.

189 West Tompkins

Located just off campus, across the street from ABLE house, Mandel found the proximity to campus to be only one of the good features of her apartment.

“It’s really homey and nice,” she said, “not too big, not too small.”

In contrast with Swanson’s experience, Mandel found her landlord to be very helpful.

“He’s awesome; he’s really prompt whenever we have a problem … [He] cares about the people that live there,” Mandel said.

Mandel’s biggest problem with the apartment is the size of the kitchen and the comparative hugeness of the refrigerator, which sticks out and makes it difficult for more than one person to be in the kitchen in at a time.

She also dislikes the way sound carries from other apartments, saying she can hear people talking and walking around, even when they are not particularly loud.

Gretchen Walljasper

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