By Pamilla Kang, UCSD, USA
I’m guessing that people are starting to think about where they’re going to live on their year abroad, and the first big decision is whether you want to live on or off campus. This can be a tough choice and honestly, both have their pros and cons.
The best thing about living on campus is that it’s much easier to make friends with people, since you’d automatically be living with other students. This means you’ll always have people to hang out with right from the very start of the year – it’s basically like first year living again. This is especially ideal if you’re going to be underage for most of the year and so can’t go out to meet people.
Living on campus is also really convenient since the accommodation is within walking distance to uni. This is useful in the US where most lectures aren’t podcasted, and attendance can be mandatory. The public transport in Southern California is also pretty bad – I have to get two buses to uni which takes about 40 minutes. It isn’t too different from the Fallowfield to Manc uni commute, but buses run much less often, and a lot of them only run every half an hour. So if you’re going to live in a smallish town with not much to do and no transportation, on campus would probably be best.
However, I have been living off campus this year and really enjoy it. The area around UCSD is pretty fancy – my apartment has a balcony, swimming pools and a gym which has been pretty great (boujee af I know). The price of my apartment is also much cheaper than the uni accommodation even though it’s loads nicer. I also personally wouldn’t have enjoyed being in catered halls again (tower food has scarred me for life).
Most importantly though, I think living off campus is more of a challenge and a way to become more immersed in the city, rather than just being on campus all the time. It can be harder to make friends at the start, but it makes you really outgoing and more proactive to do things. On campus housing is a bit of a bubble where the people there only hang out with each other, rather than locals or other students.
On campus housing can also be strict – loads of people I know have been written up by the university for being too loud or drinking (even if they’re over 21). This means that they have to go on ‘probation’, have meetings and complete quizzes online about drinking. Parties also get shut down by 11pm. It’s just a bit of a faff, especially moving from somewhere like Manchester where everyone is pretty chill. However, this might not be particularly true for all universities – if your university is known to be a ‘party’ one, then maybe on campus housing might be more fun.
If you decide to live off campus though, what I would say is that it’s really important to find some good housemates – try to ideally live with students that share your interests. It’s really easy to find other housemates on Facebook groups for your uni, so talk to as many potential housemates as possible. Worst
Happy house hunting x