It’s pretty weird to think that only a year ago, I was living in an on-campus dorm filled with freshman, eating at EVK (before they renovated it- its so swanky now!), and randomly meeting new people everyday in the elevator. If you’ve read my last blog about housing at USC, I’ve talked about the great experience I had in Birnkrant, and of the lasting friendships I made. A dorm is the perfect environment freshman year: close-knit, fun, comforting and spontaneous. You’re taking mostly intro classes, meaning that staying up until 4 AM to watch the lunar eclipse two days before a final is completely okay (see picture below). Sure, it can get a little loud sometimes, so if you want it to be quiet, you can always shut your door or check out one of the study lounges. But if you want someone to discuss Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism in the study lounge while eating Goldfish with, look no further. Typical occurrence on my floor last year, no joke.
But switching so suddenly to apartment life has been both a struggle and a relief. The main question that ran through my mind was: what am I going to eat?!?! Being able to walk downstairs to an all-you-can-eat buffet seemed like the greatest mark of freshman year. As it turns out, cooking for yourself isn’t so bad. You quickly learn the easy and cheap meals that can be made as soon as you get home from class. I’ve basically been living off grilled lemon-pepper chicken and pasta with vegetables. It takes 15 minutes from start to finish, and I always feel so accomplished afterwards. Plus it’s nice to eat on the couch in front of the TV and watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (for the record, I’m not a fan, but my roommates love it).
One of the other great things about apartment life is being able to have friends over for dinner. During freshman year, we would typically meet up at EVK or Parkside (the two major dining halls on campus when I was a freshman- now there’s three!). Recently, I’ve been rotating having dinner at some of my friend’s houses. This week, I made fried chicken and biscuits with my friend from Georgia, and yesterday we had an Asian stir fry at my friend from Singapore’s apartment. Cooking with friends can be a pretty fun activity, especially when things don’t exactly go as planned. And it’s also a nice way to de-stress after a day in the lab working with tiny heart cells.
So far, it’s been a pretty great transition back into residential life. I’ve gotten much closer to my roomies, and still kept up all of my old friendships by visiting other peoples’ apartments for dinner. At the same time, I’ve been fulfilling my goal of exploring LA more than I did freshman year. Though there is a lot of LA to explore without a car, it’s been really nice having access to one this year. Recently, I went to the LA County Fair, and got to see some pretty cute pig racing (as well as eat some ridiculously deep-fried foods). But I’ve also gotten to hang out more on campus in between classes, and just lounge around in McCarthy quad. Basically, living in an apartment has allowed me to explore on and off campus more than I did last year, and that has been the best benefit of all!