I moved into my dorm in Wagner College in August 2014. It was a triple, but felt like even two people sharing the room would rub against each other. My roommates were totally normal, good people, but I felt more cramped than when I was on a top bunk at sleep-away camp. We made due for a semester before we de-tripled.
In August 2015, I moved to the basement of James College, which was a better location for me, with what felt like more room and a clean roommate taking the same courses as me. Kevin and I studied together, had those camp-like bedtime conversations about life and were a pretty great roommate match. In August 2016 we moved up a floor and lived happily in James A104. Each of us were sent emails about moving to Chavez or Tubman Halls or West Apartments or single-double rooms multiple times but we refused.
This semester, I moved off campus. I did it to save money and because I only have classes two days a week. I mean no disrespect to the living spaces and people who utilize them on campus. Moving off campus, though, is a great decision.
The most immediate change is the relationship I have with Stony Brook itself. Before, Stony Brook was my life. I woke up in Stony Brook, went to class in Stony Brook, shopped and ate in Stony Brook, socialized in Stony Brook, worked and studied in Stony Brook before going to sleep in Stony Brook. Now that I commute, Stony Brook is like a job. I can drink coffee as I read the paper in my kitchen before driving to school. I can spend a day or a night in the city. I can socialize with non-Stony Brook students. I’m not stuck killing time and don’t feel obligated to go to events.
Because I don’t come to campus as often and spend less time on campus, my friends reach out to spend time with me. I’ve already gone to lunch with my roommate twice. Another friend invited me for coffee and an old professor asked if I wanted to discuss what I’m reading with her. My friends, whom I talk about dating with, call me aside so that we can update each other. It’s not that I’m unusually social, but because my time on campus is limited, people make a bit more effort. Even a little socializing feels like a lot because it’s concentrated, rather than spread throughout the whole week.
I should point out that, for me, living off campus means living at home. This means that I get to take part in those family dinners, live with people I know I can deal with and have a friend group based in my community to satisfy my social needs. Also, I am only able to be a commuter thanks to having a car to drive. It’s great to have the freedom that cars afford, especially when you don’t need to ask your parents to use theirs.
There are also things that I miss. Because I spend so little time on campus, there are organizations and clubs I’d like to support but can’t dedicate my time to. Also, after living on campus for so long, it’s more difficult to get into a hardcore work mode when at home. In my mind, however, these represent challenges I would have to face anyway when I graduate and my time becomes more valuable and I live wherever I will next call home.
Throughout our lives, we make career changes (I was technically pre-med as recently as last semester), location changes and many more changes affecting our physical, mental and spiritual bodies. It’s important to try to make the right changes and to look at the positives without ignoring the negatives.