One of my favorite things about heading
back to school is moving into my new place and meeting my new neighbors. While starting new classes can be stressful and buying books is downright painful,
there is nothing like a new dorm or apartment to make it all seem a little less daunting.
I should have learned my lesson from last year, but I still had such high hopes when I moved into my apartment in 1300 Residence Hall this year. Once the last box had been unpacked, and the place was decorated from floor to ceiling, I headed downstairs with my roommate for our first floor meeting, eager to get to know my neighbors. Little did I know that would be the only time I actually saw my neighbors.
When I received the housing information
in the mail before the start of my freshman
year, I immediately listed 1940 Residence Hall, 1300 Residence Hall and White Hall as my three choices, naively thinking that a suite in a newer building would be far better than a regular dorm room.
Although I did enjoy having a larger room and sharing a bathroom with only three other girls, I missed out on the camaraderie that residents share in dorms like Peabody, Johnson and Hardwick Halls.
While I sat in my air-conditioned suite in 1940 last year with my roommate and few close friends from my floor, the freshmen in Hardwick left their doors open and roamed the halls making friends.
This year, I share an apartment in 1300 with my roommate, whom I’ve known for nine years, and lived with last year. We often go out and have friends over, but the people who live around us are literally strangers. Don’t get me wrong; no one is unfriendly. They just don’t seem to exist. Doors stay closed at all hours of the day, and the only signs of life are the occasional door slamming, and the dinging of the elevator. The constant quiet is eerie and unsettling. I live in a great apartment in what feels like a ghost town.
While I love attending Temple, I often wonder if my experience thus far would have been different had I chosen to live in a dorm rather than a suite as a freshman. Residents of Johnson’s 11th floor may complain about the volcanic temperatures of their rooms, but they all suffer together, or at the very least, know each others’ names.
Had I given more thought to my living situation as I filled out my housing preferences for freshman year, I would have realized that the best part about college is not the education; it is the experiences. I chose luxury over lifestyle, not realizing what I would be missing out on.
While I sat around my suite last year wondering which of my neighbors lived in which room, dorm residents were walking into each other’s rooms like they’d known each other their whole lives.
Now, as I sit in my apartment, still wondering who my neighbors are, I finally understand the “Cheers” theme song. I view my living experience at Temple as I’ve always viewed life in the suburbs: cold and overrated.Everyone exists next to each other, but knows very little about one another. A nice dwelling wins out over socialization.
On the other hand, life in dorm buildings is much like the life I grew up with in the city: the rooms are practically on top of each other, so everyone knows everybody else’s businesses.
Those who get along are extremely close, and those who don’t get along stay on their side of the hallway.
As I’ve said before, I like my apartment and I have plenty of friends. But I don’t exactly live in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. In hindsight, my living experience at Temple would be much more complete had I lived in a dorm freshman year, “where everybody knows your name.”
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.