Peel back the new sofa cover and the bright sheets covering the arm chairs, and the living room furniture in my apartment is absolutely hideous. Beneath the decorative bowls full of colorful fruits and vegetables sits an uneven, roughed-up dining room table. The paint is peeling off the walls in a couple places, but a housemate’s colorful paintings catch the eye instead. The best touch, though, is the large tree limb we have installed in the corner of the living room. It adds a cozy, arboreal feel to the space.
My apartment isn’t glamorous, it isn’t in mint condition, but I have to say, my housemates and I are certainly making something nice out of it.
There comes a point in any undergraduate’s life when living in a dorm room is no longer such a welcome thought. You graduate to an apartment or a house. Oberlin students usually start out down this path by living in a College-owned Village Housing apartment. The lucky ones get the chance to live off campus during their senior or fifth years. I suppose I cheated a bit by studying abroad starting my junior year, thus getting to live off campus—quite far off campus, in fact—before my class standing would normally permit me the privilege.
With this, of course, comes a whole host of new responsibilities. Living on campus, you generally don’t have to worry about paying monthly rent or utilities. And you stand a greater chance of having neighbors from “the real world” (i.e., non-students) if you live off campus. And just plain finding an apartment, getting in touch with the landlord, and signing a lease is an experience in and of itself.
In the end, the chance to live off campus in your very own apartment is a great learning experience. Maybe my apartment isn’t the nicest place, but it has been an exciting process trying to make this place feel like our own.