Off Campus and Off the Map–Living Alone

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I endured 365 days of a sorority house. Living with 44 other girls in one house and in a room that I could touch both sides of if I lay out on the floor—that was my sophomore year of college. So you’d better believe I was beyond ready to move out. When my aunt said I could use her house for a year, I was ecstatic. Sure, it wasn’t on campus, but it was a whole house to myself. What could be wrong with that? 

As it turns out, a lot of things.

Sure, you are gifted with an enormous amount of space to yourself that you haven’t had since you left for college, you no longer have to deal with screaming neighbors, you’re paying less the further out you live, and, my personal favorite, you have a fridge all to yourself (after a year of people taking my Buffalo Wild Wings jalapeño poppers, there is no adequate way to describe how happy this made me). There’s a downside though—living alone and far away means certain expected college experiences are now unavailable. So rather than the usual stories of concerts at the student union, having drinks with my friends downtown or only needing to walk two blocks to get anywhere, my junior year has been a bit different.

Obviously most universities have horrible parking. Pretty much everyone at the University of Iowa knows not to bring a car because there’s really nowhere to park it. Therefore, any time I want to go downtown to do anything—hang out at the bars, go to the mall or even just watch Netflix with my friends in their apartments—I have to drive myself or take the bus. I am the permanent DD. I’m not a big drinker to begin with, but even I want to go out and celebrate turning 21 with my friends at Airliner or Brothers. Sadly, the only way I can do that is if I were the only one not drinking, or if I crashed at a friend’s for the night. I don’t even have roommates I could switch off with driving for a night—woohoo, it’s just me, myself and I.

You know what else sucks about off-campus living? Proximity. My friends can only hang out with me if I’m their ride, or if they brave the bus system they’ve never used before in their lives.

I’ve been a year since I’ve come home to find a friend casually lounging on my couch, eating my food and thumbing through my enormous DVD collection, and I miss that. One of the best parts of college is having your friends around you, and now I find myself spending more one-on-one time with Netflix than ever before.

Sure, it’s great that I don’t hear someone screaming “Let’s do shots!” every night, but living off campus alone is quiet. Too quiet. I leave lights on in the house just so I know exactly what is around me at all times. It’s almost like the beginning of a bad horror movie—every shadow could be a kiddie demon ghost, every creak a robber.

Of course, it doesn’t help that my go-to TV show is Criminal Minds. I’m going to be honest, I just started using Netflix this semester, and mostly because my house was so quiet I needed the laugh track of Friends to shake the echoes of nothing away.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that if I choose to take the bus downtown (which is by far the cheapest option thanks to my handy-dandy bus pass), I am reliant on the bus schedule. The route that comes by my house only comes once an hour, so my two options are fifteen minutes early to class or fifteen minutes late to class. All my professors know me as the only girl who’s early to an 8:30 a.m. class.

Now this isn’t all to say that living alone and off campus is completely horrible. You don’t have to even leave your house to do laundry, you don’t have to pay quite as high a cost (I’m living in my aunt’s house for free, cha-ching) and you can get out of the downtown area. Every Thursday I can drive to the theater for $5 Student Night. I have a job at Barnes and Noble in the next town over because I can drive the fifteen minutes it takes to get there. I don’t have to worry that I have too many leftovers in the fridge and my ice cream is untouched by anyone but me.

Although, I can’t wait to live downtown with three other girls, a block away from the library and close enough that all of my movie marathons will be attended by more than just myself and my Game of Thrones figures.

Guys, I get really lonely sometimes.

Megan Deppe is a junior Journalism and Cinema double major at the University of Iowa. She loves movies, which she constantly reminds people on her blog ReelTalk, and she can hold an entire conversation using nothing but Friends quotes. But she’s not a nerd- okay, that may be a lie.

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