Sunday, December 14, 2008

Living Off and On Campus

This is my first year living off campus, and while it has its perks compared to residency, there are some things you should consider when deciding whether or not you want to make the move to your own place.

I moved around a bit my first two years at Mount Allison, trying to find a residence which best fit my needs and personality. I moved from Windsor, to Harper, to Campbell, and I'm now living with three roommates a short distance from campus.

Mine and Leah (my roommate)'s room in Windsor Hall my first year at MtA.

Leah and I are best friends here at MtA, and we're roommates living off campus this year!

First let's outline the pros of living in residence:

  • It's certainly a great way to meet a lot of people and you quickly become close to neighbors and floor friends.
  • These residences are basically big houses with students close to your own age; they are full of student activities which seem to be going on constantly, giving you many chances to get out and socialize with your peers.
  • It's also convenient being a short distance from the university buildings, so your classes are only a few short strides away.
  • You pay the residence fee up front and it's done with. You don't have to worry about rent, water, electricity or cable bills.
  • Free wireless internet all over campus.
  • The cafeteria has food already cooked for you; maybe not quite what mom makes, but, all you have to do is show up and eat it whenever you need to. At Mount Allison, you can stop by any hour of the day between opening hour and closing hour, unlike many other university cafeterias which are only open during specified meal times.
  • It's a real university experience living on campus and it can be a real blast!

Now, let's take a look at the cons:
  • Because you're living with such a large number of students, it can be quite noisy - especially on weekends.
  • "Quiet hours" don't take place outside your window late at night and there can be quite a disturbance during the weekends. If you’re like me, and you need your beauty rest, consider thick earplugs!
  • Depending on which residence you live in, rooms can be quite small and you don't usually have a choice about whom your roommate will be.
  • Meal hall may not make food that you particularly like.
  • There are restrictions and rules that you must abide by. Such rules include the number of guests you're allowed in your room and how long they're allowed to stay, and things you can and can't do in your room.
  • With an exception to the bathroom suites in Campbell hall, you share communal bathrooms with the other students. You may, at times, be competing for a shower!

Pros of living off campus:
  • It is your first step into adulthood, responsibility and independence. You're finally on your own in our own house managing your own bills. You're finally an adult!
  • You get to decide with whom you want to live, and where, exactly, you want to live.
  • There is lots more room, depending upon where you live, of course, and you have more personal space than just your bedroom, unlike being in residence.
  • You get to decide what you want to eat! But, then you may find it is a nuisance having to cook when you have a lot of work to do. Also, you now have to purchase groceries. You may find yourself calling home to find out how to cook what may have seemed like simple food when you lived home; now it’s a little more complicated! Bless you, dad! I didn’t realize.
  • There is less competition for a shower and you don't have to worry about wearing flip flops.(as long as you keep your shower clean!)
  • You don't have to worry about the noise of hundreds of students inside and outside your home.
  • You don't have to worry about fees if you accidentally break a house rule. The only rules are the ones you and your roommates set for yourselves. But of course, you still have to be responsible! There is a damage deposit to pay!

Cons of living off campus:
  • Living off campus usually means walking a further distance to your classes. An extra five or ten minutes might not seem that bad... until it's pouring rain or snowing out. The wind can be nasty, too!
  • Did I mention you have to get your own groceries which means dishing out money every few weeks... and walking or getting a cab with the many groceries which didn’t seem that expensive when you lived at home!
  • You also have to take care of bills every month such as rent, electric, oil, cable and internet. It can be stressful with the continuous handing over of money, while in residence, the fee is taken care of right away.
  • Most leases are 12 months, which basically means unless you can get someone to sublet, you're paying rent for the four months you're not attending classes in Sackville (unless you decide to stay for whatever reason.)
  • You have to find time to do things that would be normally done for you if you were in residence such as cleaning the house, washing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom.
  • You have to pay for toilet paper... which goes fast especially if you're living with roommates. It seems a bit extreme to take your own roll every time you go so that might be another thing worth discussing with them prior to living together.

So, I hope I've shed a little light on any questions you may have had about living on or off campus. If you do have any other questions, feel free to give me a shout anytime and I'll be happy to help you out!

Happy Holidays!

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