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Off-campus adjustments

Laura McCrystal | Monday, August 30, 2010

I thought that by senior year, I knew exactly how to move into college and get settled to begin classes.

But then I moved off campus.

While freshmen try to find their way to DeBartolo, balance their trays and find seats in the dining halls, and learn to get along with roommates, off-campus students are going through similar learning processes.

We may have dorm and campus life figured out, but in the past two weeks my roommates and I have had to furnish and setup an entire house, utility bills, cable television, Internet and a security system.

Many other off-campus seniors might not be willing to admit it — we all love having our own houses or apartments free of communal bathrooms, quiet hours and parietals — but there is a definite convenience to on-campus living that I already miss.

I sat on the floor of my living room for two hours Saturday afternoon on the telephone with a wireless Internet router company as a representative took control of my computer screen and configured a network connection. That amount of time made me realize I missed Notre Dame’s ever-present and readily available wireless Internet.

On the first day of classes when my roommates accidentally set off our alarm at 7 a.m. (understandably so; we hadn’t taught her how it worked), I missed the security of not even having to lock my dorm room door.

As I cruised around the C parking lot searching for a parking space and then rushed from the parking lot to class, I realized that even my old home on Mod Quad is a pretty conveniently located. I also felt strangely like a senior in high school — that was the last time I ever drove to school.

Don’t mistake these instances for regret that I moved away from campus — I love my house. I can cook my own dinner, share a bathroom with one other girl instead of 40 and blast music in the middle of the night if my roommates and I feel like having a spontaneous dance party. And I have a bedroom to myself that is much larger than the size of a room I had to share in the dorms.

When I mention to my parents the difficulties of getting settled in my new home, they tell me, “You chose to live in a house. Welcome to the real world.”

Moving off campus has its pluses and minuses, but above all else, it is just another part of the college learning experience, a baby step into the real world. When I (hopefully) I have a real job and a place of my own after graduation, I’ll have a better idea of what to do. In the meantime, I will not be taking my trips to the dining hall for granted.