Here goes my attempt to trace my thoughts back to the summer days after high school graduation, when I read through USC’s housing application packet and online forums trying to decide which dorm I want to live in. Eventually, I had Birnkrant on my list, mostly because it was known as the most social and well-rounded dorm at the center of campus. I honestly can’t remember what my top 2nd and 3rd choices were. What I do know is I was assigned to the 4th floor of Parkside IRC and I had never taken a close look at it before… So I had no idea what to expect.
Luckily, I grew to like Parkside quickly. I lived in an 8-person suite, with 4 bedrooms (2 girls in each room) and 2 bathrooms right above the Parkside dining hall. The dorm is located near the “engineering side” of campus (RTH, SAL computer labs, Vivian Hall) as well as near KAP, GFS and SGM, which are some of the buildings I had many classes in (Physics and Chemistry labs were held in KAP, many General Education courses are taught at GFS and Chemistry lectures were taught in SGM). Plus, I enjoyed the food at the Parkside dining hall more than at EVK (which is closer to Birnkrant and New/North), so getting food didn’t require a long walk for me. Pretty convenient? I think so!
Sharing a room with one other person and having 2 bathrooms f0r 8 people to share wasn’t a terrible thing at all. My roommates and I arranged our shower schedules so we almost never had to deal with a long wait. The rooms were all carpeted and very clean when I first moved in (Parkside IRC is the 2nd newest on-campus dorm, with Parkside Arts & Humanities being the newest of all). It wasn’t difficult to maintain and all Parkside residents have the luxury of having maintenance staff clean the bathrooms several times a week. Also, each bedroom had its own mini refrigerator and microwave. Some students would have drinking water delivered, but my roomies and I stuck with using a Brita filter.
Some people I met at Parkside are international students like I am, but I find that even though Parkside IRC stands for the International Residential College, there is still a good mix of students from LA, out of state and from around the world. It felt like a diverse bunch, not heavily weighted by international students alone. Of the 8 girls in my suite, 2-3 would go home most weekends while 5 of us would stay on campus. There were many concerts, parties, festivals and big events on campus to keep us entertained so I was never worried about campus feeling deserted come Saturday.
The dorm’s location defined about a quarter of my living experience. The rest was determined by the culture around the building, my roommates and how I chose to take advantage of the activities/events my Residential Advisors (RA’s) planned for the year.
If you walked down the the halls of Parkside in the first weeks of the semester, doors would mostly be open. That was the best time to meet people and get to know the other residents. Later in the year, some doors stayed open while others were shut, changing the dynamic of the dorms a bit. Because I lived with 7 other girls, we grew really close to each other and had a good timing hanging out amongst ourselves. Keeping the door closed felt natural because we didn’t feel like we were isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. Other dorms pride themselves with keeping the open door policy all year round, which to a certain degree makes for a more “social” experience.
Some of the best friends I have today are people I met at Parkside. I spent many hours at my friends’ suites or hanging out at the lounges. Ah, the lounge! Tons of free food, movie marathons and study group sessions took place there! My RA’s would organize ice cream socials, networking events with faculty and trips around LA (Six Flags, movie tapings in Burbank, dinner in downtown LA, etc.) so there was always something to do during the week and over the weekend. These were the occasions I met my fellow Parkside residents many of whom I still hang out (and live) with these days.
Overall, I’m surprised I didn’t give Parkside IRC a second look when I was flipping through the USC’s housing brochure. I had a good experience, I loved my roommates and I’m glad I lived there my freshman year! I wouldn’t trade it for anything.