The OC Life

When many people think of a college experience, they tend to imagine a bunch of students living together in dormitories and sharing communal bathrooms. But there are also Rice students who live off-campus. There are many students who choose to live off-campus for various reasons (their family lives close by, it’s cheaper, etc.), but there are also some students who live off-campus for a year because of housing constraints. Rice has 11 residential colleges with different living systems and cultures, and each college has different requirements for when students live off-campus (students at Rice are typically guaranteed on-campus housing for three of their four years, but many get to live on-campus for all four years). At my college, Wiess College, sophomores usually live off-campus.

As a current OC student, I’ve gotten used to a lot of lifestyle changes at college, but many of them are for the better. Overall I can say that being off-campus has allowed me to become more independent, manage my time better, organize my day-to-day plans, and become more prepared for the real life ahead of me. Let me be a little bit more specific.

I currently live in a house with four other friends. The house is super close to Rice and is in one of the safest neighborhoods in Houston. It’s a 7-minute walking distance and a 3-minute biking distance from Rice’s campus. So in a sense, I’m living as close as I can to being on-campus. But because I don’t have the wonderful Rice housing and dining staff taking care of me in my own house, I have adult responsibilities. Now I make my own food occasionally, so I have to buy groceries. Each of us in the house has chores to do on a routine basis, so I have to take out the trash twice a week. I have to wash dishes, and clean up after myself in the kitchen. Because biking back home takes a while, I have to make sure that I bring all of my books and other miscellaneous items that I need for the day. Especially when there’s a special event at night, I have to make sure that everything is accounted for. On a typical weekday when I have class, I eat breakfast at home, bike to classes, have lunch and dinner on campus, do work either at my residential college or at the library, and then bike back home to sleep. Sometimes I go back home early to get more quiet time and settle down in my work. On the weekends, however, I usually choose not to go on campus unless I have meetings on campus.

A lot of people ask me whether or not I like living off-campus. I think that there are pros and cons to the entire experience. It can be rather inconvenient if you’re involved in on-campus activities, but overall I’m glad that I’m doing it.

Here are my favorite parts of living off-campus:

  1. You’re better prepared for the real world. (Cause let’s be honest, college doesn’t really prepare you for independent living.)
  2. There’s always a place for you to get away from everyone and be in your own sanctuary.
  3. $!! Living off-campus is cheaper than living on campus (mainly because you do not have to get the full meal plan, and you can often find a place to live with cheap rent).
  4. More food options! You can buy different types of meal plans or just use tetra points on your student ID card as a form of currency. Rice has a solid selection of other places to buy food.
  5. You get sympathy points from everyone living on campus!

Even if you don’t want to live off-campus, many students who are in my year still ended up getting rooms last year; in fact, I got offered a room on-campus but already made off-campus plans. Either way, I’m grateful for my time as an off-campus student, but I’m definitely looking forward to moving back on next year!

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