I live off campus, with my parents. The first question people ask me right after they ask where I’m living is, “Do you like it?” I never have enough time to answer the question, but, like responses to other hard questions—“it depends.” Sometimes I love being able to get away whenever I want and to have a place to call home other than campus. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I wish I lived on a hall of forty girls interrupting me while I’m trying to do homework because I know they love me.
I knew that, as a commuter, I wouldn’t be as involved, but I never thought it would be like this. It’s hard to be involved when you’re not on campus. It’s no longer easy. I have to keep up with the calendar; I have to keep asking when open dorm is; I have to be intentional and pursue my friends. That last point has probably been the most fruitful lesson of this year. I have discovered the difference between friends I hang out with because they’re around and friends that will pursue you when they’re not close.
Another difficult thing is the double-edged sword of social events. On one side, there are friends who don’t invite you to things, or they forget because you’re not right there. On the other side is you. You want to go to events, but you don’t want to intrude on anyone, and you also never know when things are happening because the most fun things happen spontaneously.
Perhaps the worst thing about living off campus is feeling like a high school student. It still feels like it did two years ago when I was in high school. Commuting every day, seeing my friends at school, and then going back home. Yes, I can stay around and do homework, but I also don’t live on campus. When I stay longer to hang around, people are busy. It seems that it’s more difficult than easy to try to be there with people you love when it’s not homework time, class time, boyfriend time, nap time, etc.
When I’m at home, I don’t really feel like doing homework because it’s my place to relax, but it’s also the place where I have no distractions. If I’m on campus and I have a choice between doing homework and talking to a friend—you can bet that I’ll choose the friend, because I won’t know when I’ll see them again. Homework is always here. I guess all that goes back to being intentional. I have to pursue, I have to ask, I have to be vulnerable—and that’s good.
However, not all is bad when I’m at home. There is a certain kind of peace that comes with being off-campus. You don’t have to talk when you get back to your room. It’s okay to be quiet, and it’s okay to have down time. There is community with the people you live with (in my case, my parents). Not to mention the awesome perks of getting to make your own food whenever you want to and doing your laundry for free. To be split between two places—campus and my house—is a hard place to be. I find myself in it at all times, but I have found that, whichever I choose in that moment, the other is always there.
Escarcega is a junior majoring in history. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.