I know there are already a lot of blogs on housing, but I also remember that housing was definitely one of my top two or three biggest concerns as an incoming freshman, so I thought I’d write about my experience anyway. Ultimately, in one sentence, I can sum up housing: no matter where you end up living you’ll meet a bunch of really neat people, because those are just the kind of people that go to USC.
However, with that disclaimer, I think it’s still important to find a good fit for you. The biggest decision you really have to make is what type of housing you want: dorm-style, suite-style, or apartment-style. As a freshman, most students live on-campus in dorms or suites. Every type of housing has different benefits. If you don’t know which kind you want, you can read about the pros and cons of each in the myriad of housing brochures available online. Personally, I really enjoyed dorm living. When I applied for housing, I knew I wanted the traditional college dorm experience, and I definitely got that.
For me, living in Birnkrant was one of the best decisions I’ve made since deciding to attend USC. Birnkrant has a total of eight floors. People live on the top seven floors, and the ground floor contains a 24-hour Starbucks at Trojan Grounds (we affectionately call it “TroGro,” and it’s wonderful during midterm season), a conference room, a multi-purpose room, a music performance room, some lounging/seating areas, a foosball table, and a pool table. Currently, all of the floors in Birnkrant are co-ed. The girls live on one half of the hall and the guys live on the other half, separated by a study room.
In my experience, Birnkrant is full of interesting people. My floor has 42 students, and between all of us, we speak 11 different languages – English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Hebrew, and Arabic –in most cases, fluently. We represent about a third of the states, and we even have an international student from Mexico. We’re majoring in all kinds of different areas, from Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering, to Screenwriting, Public Relations, and Journalism, to Business, International Relations, and Economics. However despite all of this diversity, we have a lot in common. Despite our different majors, we have a lot of similar interests, we’re involved in similar organizations, we take many overlapping classes, and most importantly, we enjoy spending time together. I love being able to walk outside my room (the door is usually open) and immediately find people to grab dinner with, get physics help from, or even just chat with. Many of my closest friends here at USC are people from my floor, including my roommate. I was lucky enough to be randomly matched with one of the best friends I’ve made here, and we’re even living together again next year, with two other girls from our floor. If you also do a random roommate assignment, definitely try to fill out the survey they give you as accurately as possible. That thing is magical – somehow, at the end of the year almost everyone I know is at the very least still on good terms with his or her roommate, and six or seven pairs of roommates on my floor are even rooming together again next year!
Although I love Birnkrant, and I’ll never run out of good things to say about it, the truth is, you really will meet great people wherever you live. I have friends in almost every residential community on campus, and every community offers something special, so don’t think that there is only one “right” option for you.
One final (random) piece of advice: if you’re living in one of the dorms that’s not air-conditioned (like Birnkrant for example), which are all listed on the housing website, bring a fan. Coming from a state where the average temperature is much, much colder for most of the year, I brought a fan but didn’t realize how much I would use it until I got here. Turns out, Los Angeles gets hot (shocker, I know) and the fan was a lifesaver. So to summarize: don’t be too nervous about housing because you will almost certainly find people you like wherever you live, and definitely bring a fan.