Campus Guide: Living off campus offers new experience
Editor’s note: This article is part of the Arizona Summer Wildcat’s 2014 Campus Guide. The Campus Guide is a special issue that runs every year to help introduce incoming students to the UA and campus life.
Living on campus your freshman year comes with a lot of challenges, but living off campus is no easier.
Many freshmen coming into college prefer to stay in a residence hall for at least their first year, if not longer. According to Residence Life, 80 percent of the people living in UA residence halls are freshmen. But what about those of us who want to live off campus from the start?
Living off campus requires a level of independence and commitment that isn’t really necessary for living on campus. When you’re living off campus, you’re away from all the events taking place at the university and your ability to meet new people is limited to the times you’re on campus. You may be tempted to go to campus just for classes and then head home. But living off campus isn’t necessarily a death sentence for your social life if you play your cards right.
To start with, remember that it’s going to be a lot of responsibility living on your own. Living off campus feels a lot more like being an adult, according to Amy Nippert, an English and neuroscience senior, who lived off campus her freshman year.
“You have a place you’re responsible for,” Nippert said, “and suddenly you’re paying bills and making your own food.”
First, make sure you’re willing to step up to that challenge.
Second, figure out your transportation. Are you going to ride the bus every day or will you bike to school? Maybe you have a car and it doesn’t matter. Choose a house or apartment based on your transportation set-up. I had no problem living a few miles away from campus my freshman year because I had a car, but if you’re going to be riding a bike, you might want to stick a bit closer to campus.
Third, be willing to go to clubs and study groups. When you’re on campus, it’s relatively easy to make friends with the people in your residence hall. But if you want to make new friends while living off campus, you need to be willing to reach out to people. Talk to that cool group of people in your honors English course, or join that club everyone’s talking about. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, you’re sure to find something eventually.
Fourth, don’t isolate yourself from the friends you already have. I know from experience that it’s easy to get lazy and figure you’ll just see your friends next weekend instead of driving to campus now. But pretty soon, those invitations will stop coming and you’ll find yourself even more alone.
And finally, explore Tucson. My first two years in the city, I never went anywhere beyond my apartment and campus. It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I went to Fourth Avenue for the first time, and I didn’t go downtown until my junior year. I quickly realized that I’d been missing out. Visit Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery, or go see the stores along Fourth Avenue. It’s better than sitting at home doing nothing, I promise you that.
Remember, though, that living off campus is not for everyone. If you don’t think you’ll be able to motivate yourself to meet people, it might be better to stay on campus.
“Consider your own personality before deciding,” Nippert said. “It might not lead to the traditional college experience, but it is a good way to become independent quickly.”