Student Housing Business

SEP-OCT 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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STUDENT OPINION September/October 2018 StudentHousingBusiness.com 44 From Nervous Freshman to Pro This UVA student moved from on-campus housing into newly delivered luxury living off-campus sophomore year, followed by an older off-campus apartment her third year. By Wehbe Lee F First year. I'm unpacking the myriad of "most- ly unnecessary" items that were hauled from Georgia to Charlottesville, Virginia, and I can't help but feel slightly anxious wondering how the year is going to go. How well will I handle sharing a dorm room the size of a shoebox with someone I've met once? Community bathroom? That can't possibly go well. I have entirely too much stuff. And WHAT is that odd concoction of smells wafting out of the air vent? A sympathetic smile from mom and a smirk from dad complete the move-in process, and the year begins. Two years later, I am beginning my third year at the University of Virginia. The pursuit of a Kinesiology degree and a profession in health services certainly hasn't been a cake- walk; however, these past few years have been, hands down, the best years of my life. Almost anyone can attest to the statement that one's living situation contributes significantly to his or her college experience, whether it be room- mates, apartment quality, location, etc. I feel incredibly lucky to have had wonderful liv- ing arrangements that have augmented my time as a student and also contributed to my growth as an individual. My first year was spent in a standard dorm known as Gooch-Dillard. The structure of this building was multi-level, suite style, so six people essentially shared a small common room and bathroom, and two girls occupied each of the three bedrooms. I found there to be positive and negative aspects to this setup. It was nice in that it offered more space and facil- itated communal interactions. However, it also facilitated an influx of people and an increase in socializing in the afternoon and evening, thus slightly hindering productivity. Although it allowed me to form wonderful friendships, socializing in the common room was also one of my regrets from first year because I didn't allocate sufficient time for my studies and my academic performance suffered. On move-in day, I eagerly approached the room that I would call home. I'd met my room- mate once prior to move-in, so we were essen- tially strangers. It was immediately apparent that our styles differed and our personalities contrasted significantly. Our sides of the room clashed in every way possible. First-year students are placed randomly in residence halls, so our initial living situation is completely out of our control. What was in our control, however, was our mindset and how we perceived the situation. Gooch-Dillard definitely had its advantages and disadvantages. In all honesty, it might as well have been off-campus hous- ing, as it was isolat- ed and distant from classes and any social activity. I ini- tially viewed this as an annoying incon- venience, but it allowed me to iden- tify what I wanted the following year when I could choose the location in which I lived. I was able to find silver linings that helped me to ignore some of the minor disadvantages. For example, everyone in Gooch-Dillard was in the same boat. We were all isolated from the rest of "grounds," the term UVA students use to reference the campus. Instead of let- ting that isolation detract from our experience, we formed a tight-knit community, establish- ing relationships that are still appreciated two years later. Living in a dorm was the best way to begin a college experience, as I was imme- diately immersed in a community of different personalities and backgrounds. It also offered the opportunity to discover personal prefer- ences that would factor into future decisions regarding housing and living situations. Second year was vastly different, as I got to decide where and with whom I lived. I knew I wanted to live near "The Corner," a centralized social hub near the grounds filled with restaurants, study spaces and shops. I also wanted to be within walking distance of my classes and libraries, so proximity was a big factor in deciding where I wanted to sign a lease. Fortunately, the UVA and Charlottesville community excels at offering off-grounds housing that's far enough away from dorms but still central to the university. I also decided that I wanted to live somewhere that allowed me to have my own space. As beneficial as sharing a room with someone was for my per- sonal growth, I valued my space and my priva- cy. I decided on an apartment complex called Grandmarc that is sought after by second-year students. Aside from its reputation as a social hub, Grandmarc offered several conveniences, such as included utilities, a gym, and a pool. And it was fully furnished — this was greatly appreciated not only by me but by my father! I had my own bedroom and bathroom, and I was right in the middle of every social function that occurred throughout the year. I lived with one other roommate, so it was a nice change after living with several girls. By the end of the year, however, I had outgrown the desire to be immersed in everything. The nights spent trying to fall asleep while listening to the residents in the apartment directly above me participate in what sounded like a 21st cen- tury tribal dance helped me realize that I also appreciate peace and quiet. I decided to move into a different complex that was near the Corner and classes, but was somewhat separated from the constant noise and parties. I am now living with three other girls. While I value the company and cama- raderie, this year's living situation is reinforc- ing my appreciation for privacy and personal space. My apartment this year is also not as glamorous as Grandmarc, but I appreciate that. I grew up listening to people talk about college — how un-glamorous it was and how end- less amounts of Ramen noodles contributed to the "true college experience." Nowadays, I hear classmates complaining that their rooftop infinity pool was shut down for a few hours, and I worry about the future of us Millennials and our tolerance for "tough college living." With one year of college living left, I've not only learned what I value in a home but how to live with other people and their varying needs or habits. I've learned that there's no such thing as a perfect living situation. I have also learned to appreciate the little things and to approach complications head on, compro- mise, and possibly laugh about them later. My advice to younger students would be to live somewhere and in such a way that makes you happy. For example, I enjoy deco- rating and personalizing a living space, mak- ing it a home instead of just a place to stay when I'm not in class. Photos on the wall and other memorabilia bring me peace and com- fort throughout the semester. I will reiterate with utmost sincerity what I've heard a million times — college is truly the best four years of one's life; however, it does go faster than any of us expect. Make the most of it, because in what seems like the blink of an eye, that musty, old dorm room will be gone and it'll be time to sign your last college lease. — Wehbe Lee is a junior at the University of Virginia. WEHBE LEE

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