I, Hamster: On Living Near Campus

Most students think of my campus as a commuter school.  And while most students live off-campus, that  hides the fact that lots of us live in apartments or shared houses in the immediate vicinity of campus. 

I’m currently moving into a three-bedroom apartment right beside campus, for all the usual reasons.  (I.e., We can play Magic: The Gathering at all hours without waking up Dad!)  In test runs from the new apartment, it turns out that I am a mere 45-second walk to my on-campus job, not to mention classes, and a just slightly longer walk to food, liquor, and more!  Day by day, my car look a little more useless, and I’m beginning to wonder: Have I made myself a human hamster habitrail?

While it’d be  nice to think that the environment played any sort of role in this decision, the reality is that my motivations were different.  I have a very rudimentary plan for each day–as Optimus Rhyme puts it, “Reboot, work, recharge, work, walk home, recharge, shutdown, reboot, repeat.”  Living close to campus simplifies that even more: I don’t have to eat fast food, because I can go home for lunch.  I don’t have to fill my pack with everything I might need during the whole day–I can always go back if something comes up.

And although my apartment’s WalkScore is only 63 , that doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation: There’s a Dunkin Donuts, a deli, a bookstore, a liquor store, and a tattoo parlor, all within walking distance.  Within a 5 minute drive, there’s a supermarket, a comic store, a mall–with an Apple store, and a laundromat/bar (which wins the Alex Jarvis Brilliant Business Idea Award).  It’s a practical utopia of convenience. 

There are even professors in the neighborhood!  When I asked Jason about it, he said: “The neighborhood’s actually very livable–although it turns out there are drawbacks to living 45 seconds from work.  For example, if there’s a crisis, you’re just 45 seconds away.  Having said that, being freed from commuting and parking is a gift.”

Centering my life so close to campus simplifies a lot of decisions, and I operate better under such top-down solutions to problems. When things are aligned by common values ( a single Google account across platforms, the ability to walk to work, food, etc. instead of drive) everything clicks a lot better.

Do you live on or near campus?  What have been your experiences?  How do you handle decisions about where to live?



Image by Flickr user *Debs* / Creative Commons licensed

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