October 20, 2011

The Freshman House Hunt

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One of the best parts of going home for fall break was being able to roll out of bed and cook my own scrambled eggs for breakfast. It was crashing on the couch for a solid four hours watching Law & Order: SVU reruns and not worrying if my dorm-mates were judging me for finding entertainment in four different cases of rape, human-trafficking, murder and child abuse. It was moseying into my shower (sans flip-flops) and finding my shampoo, conditioner and soap waiting for me, instead of having to run back to my room for my shower caddy. It was that sense of, “this is MY space and MY space only and I can do whatever the hell I want with it.” It was glorious.

I am not saying that I don’t love the freshman dorms here. Honestly, when I came back on Tuesday night to my cramped double I felt like I was coming back home … again. But how much do I actually love dorm life in comparison to having a place of my own?

This question has become a more pressing matter since I have finally realized that all the good apartments and houses in Collegetown will be signed and leased very, very soon (or they might have been by now. I never know what’s going on around here. #freshmanproblems). There is also the possibility that I might decide to rush and then live in a sorority house. Or I could live on West Campus and get Alex Morgan-esque legs hiking the Slope up to class everyday. The possibilities are endless.

It’s freaking me out.

Surprisingly enough I have been a little proactive — as in, when lecture gets boring I analyze the benefits and downsides of living in each location. I have also been able to talk to a few wise upperclassmen about their housing experiences (going to the same school as your older sister has its benefits). So, from a freshman viewpoint, these are the different pros and cons that I have compiled:

West Campus: The buildings are gorgeous. I would continue to have my meals made for me, which could work out nicely because my cooking skills are subpar. I would also not feel as guilty when I fail to work out because hiking the Slope is quite the calorie burner. On the other hand I would show up to every class panting and sweating through my shirt, which would inevitably lead me to repulse my future classmates and thus potential friends. When the temperature drops to the teens and single digits I may still have to journey out of doors to take my meals. And, alas, I would once again have to wear sandals in the shower.

Sorority House: Since I am considering rush I do not want to say anything about sororities just in case it comes out wrong, so for now no comment.

Collegetown:  Independence!  As stated before I could make my own breakfast, leave my shampoo in the shower and watch Benson and Stabler wield their guns and badges around New York City without fear of judgment. The close vicinity of CTB and Starbucks does not hurt either, although this could lead to a substantial increase in personal spending. However, living in Collegetown means delving into the thorny thickets of real estate. Landlords? Rent? Lease contracts??? Cue hyperventilation. It also means that since I am not an engineer and will probably not have too many classes on the engineering quad, I would have to take a relatively long hike to the Arts Quad. This may get problematic from December through February.

As a freshman, I don’t quite yet know how to run my own life. I still subconsciously expect my parents to tell me to eat my vegetables and stay in on weekends when I am feeling sick. But I suppose that is a sign that Mom and Dad raised me right; I know what needs to be done and have been able, for the most part, to take care of myself.  However, finding my own place to live is the ultimate confirmation of independence and self-sufficiency. Tracking down a living space that fits a certain budget, is convenient for my academic and social life and that will ultimately make me happy is a definite sign of maturity.

Finding your own place to live is a milestone for all of us at Cornell. It is something that, at some point, we all have to do; eventually, we all must grow up. That last statement might be blatantly naïve, but what else do you expect? I am a freshman, just as all you sophomores, juniors and seniors were once upon a time. Haven’t you changed since you first arrived on campus, barely 18 years old and toting your shower caddy to the bathroom?

That’s what I thought.

Natalie Kim is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at nk428@cornell.edu. Northern Exposure, a column from the perspectives of alternating members of the Class of 2015, appears alternate Fridays this semester.

Original Author: Natalie Kim