I only lived in the residence halls
my freshman year. Of the many things that I remember from my experience, many of them happened in the common areas of the residence hall I lived in.
In all of the residence halls there is at least one kitchen
, with many of them having kitchens on each floor. Even if you are not a fantastic cook, it is really fun to cook or even hang out with people that are cooking. My friends and I tried many times to start traditions such as having pancakes every Sunday in the kitchen, etc. Also, almost every week, we would make cookies and share them with the rest of the residents, who were consistently going in and out of the common area.
There also is a leisure area in each residence hall. The resident advisors
usually post up here during the week and on weekends, having events for the residents. It is also very lively on weekend nights, as people hang out or meet up to watch sports and movies.
The study rooms in the residence halls are also great places to meet people and study. I found the study lounges to be great because there was usually a good amount of people that had similar classes to you so you could work together when you were studying for exams. The residence halls also have printers so you can print your homework without having to break your buck on ink.
My residence hall was a traditional residence hall. This means that instead of having private bathrooms, there is only one male and one female bathroom per floor. The way they are set up is that one third of the bathroom is solely sinks. Almost every single night my friends and I would spend an excessive amount of time (sometimes over an hour) sitting in the sink area talking and waiting for people to swoop in. It really was a social time. I think I brushed my teeth better that year than any other time in my life.
Living in a community such as a residence hall is something that you will probably only experience once in your life. I recommend every student to do it once. It is well worth it and you will meet friends you will have for a lifetime.
Looking for apartments makes you really feel like an adult. You have a budget. There are contracts, tons of paperwork, research, negotiations, and credit reports. It feels like you are being thrown into a Financial Fitness Course with people that have already taken the course before. It is a lot of work and can be difficult at times but worth it in the end. The relief you get when you sign the contract and get the acceptance is an awesome feeling.
My guardian savior for apartment hunting is an app/website called Zillow. With this website, you can search nearly every apartment in the city, filtering your results to fit your criteria. It consolidates almost every listing, from Craigslist to private realtors.
My sophomore and junior year I lived off campus, even though I would hardly consider either apartment off campus. Both times I lived less than two blocks from campus in Lincoln Park. For students that live on campus their freshman year, I would recommend living in the Lincoln Park area to get accustomed to living off campus, while still staying involved in extracurricular activities on campus.
As my senior year is coming quickly, I have decided to move to an area outside of Lincoln Park. This is the time when leases begin to become available and agents begin showing apartments. I am looking at Lakeview, Uptown, and Wrigleyville. Wherever I end up, I am sure that it will be a place that I will grow to love!