How To: Survive Living Off Campus
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
This one’s for you, you newly-minted upperclassmen, the ghosts on campus, the meal-plan moochers. I’m certain you are all TransLoc devotees by now and have had your fair share of housewarming parties (and maybe even had a run-in with a certain maroon SUV). But before the year zips by, which it undoubtedly will, here’s some advice on making the most of your year—or semester—off-campus. Although my days stalking the streets of Brighton have ended, albeit recently, I already feel a creeping sense of nostalgia for my time on Gerald Road. (Don’t worry, juniors—I won’t be crashing on any of your futons anytime soon). But, in part to indulge my own tendency to reminisce, I’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind while you all play "house" down Comm. Ave.
1. Learn to Cook … Something. My friends can attest to the fact that my kitchen prowess was fairly limited to whipping up a mean bowl of cereal or, my personal favorite, a scoop of peanut butter right from the spoon. While I still break out the cereal for dinner more often than I’m comfortable admitting, I definitely added to my kitchen repertoire this past year. As a vegetarian, or something like it, for the better part of 10 years, my now carnivorous self was completely confounded when it came to preparing meat ("Salmonella, who’s that?"). But here I am, one year later, and I haven’t poisoned myself yet. Seriously, though, whether it’s mastering scrambled eggs or getting creative with the George Foreman, you’ll relish those meals that required a little more than opening a box and firing up the microwave.
2. Work Orders No More. There’s a good chance Mr. Landlord won’t care too much about a little thing we call upkeep. Why? During your house tours, did you inspect the insulation or ensure the hot water heater wasn’t leaky? Did you ask about the efficiency of the appliances or the house’s quirks? Didn’t think so. Your landlord has probably noticed we students aren’t the most scrutinizing bunch. There is going to be a point where the dishwasher reveals itself to be a very loud, very energy-inefficient noisemaker. Or the dryer breaks and stays that way for months. When that happens, don’t expect much in the way of repairs that last. As of now, unbeknownst to you, your house has a long list of things that could use repair. And that could have used repair last year. And probably the year before. You’ll love the freedom living off-campus allows you, but trust me, you’ll return to campus with a whole new appreciation for working appliances or those lovely things called work orders.
3. Play Columbus. Take this opportunity to discover the city that surrounds you. When I decided to attend Boston College more than three years ago, I heard "Wow! Boston is a great city!" about 87 million times. But for some reason, the gate that surrounds BC is particularly effective in keeping us from truly getting out there. And that trip into Cambridge on Thursday night doesn’t count. Take advantage of the South Street T stop, or even trek to Reservoir, at any chance you get. Head to the MFA or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for a little arts education. Read in the Boston Public Library. See a Red Sox or Bruins game. Or get funky in Jamaica Plain or Somerville (Did you know you can take a tour of a chocolate factory there? Nom). Whatever you do, explore, explore, explore.
4. Stay The Summer. You’ve signed the lease, save yourself the annoyance of finding a sub-letter. Find an internship or a job or maybe even take a class—that W on your transcript from your brief fling with pre-med has to be filled somewhere! Aside from the obvious people-watching opportunities, there’s something kind of alluring about putting on your best business casual and taking the T to work ("Look at me being a real person!"). So stay. Stay for the job, stay for the experience. You know those painful weeks in May when it’s beautiful but exams and essays loom menacingly? Summer in the city means grilling in the yard, weekends down the Cape, picnics in the Common, and trivia nights before the crowds come back—all without the pressure of school. Summer in Boston is the cat’s pajamas. Just invest in an AC unit.
5. Lastly, just a heads up: A little old woman will rifle through your trash bins to collect cans at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings … be nice.
I’m sure there are other things you’ll find essential, but I only have so much time for this, being a super busy senior job-hunting and whatnot. So take my advice and have the best year yet. Pretty soon More Hall will be More Housing and BC won’t have to kick juniors off campus, so savor it, kiddies.