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Image of Moravian College Residence Hall The HILL with the words "Living On Campus vs Off Campus"

The Nomadic Hound: From On-Campus Resident to Commuter

February 23, 2018

As a senior, I’ve lived in numerous resident halls on campus. Of course, I have my fair share of stories to tell about each one. Some have been great while others...not so much.

Now, as a commuter for the last semester of my senior year, I have experienced life off-campus. Although ultimately I prefer it to living on-campus, there are a great many things I miss about being an on-campus resident. Speaking from my own experiences, I present a list of pros/cons for all living options available for Moravian students.

North Campus

Rau Hassler

image of college dormitory, stone walls, three floors, tree with yellow leaves outside

As a freshman, I was placed in Rau Hassler, Rau room 109. The room was small and sort of cramped, but the way my roommate and I had set it up, our closets were on one side of the room by the door which allowed us room for a mini fridge on the other side. The public showers also were not my favorite part about the freshman dorms. Despite these few drawbacks, the building had air conditioning and was relatively quiet. Well, as quiet as a freshman dorm can be. Overall, not a terrible first dorm placement.

Pros

  • Air conditioning
  • Close to classes
  • Comfortable study lounge and basement
  • Relatively quiet
  • Co-ed

Cons

  • Small rooms
  • No privacy
  • Public showers
  • Little storage

Jo Smith

college dormitory, stone walls, tall windows, built 1971

Switching halfway through my freshman year, I moved into Jo Smith for the spring semester. It was a vast change from Rau Hassler in both good and bad ways. I loved the larger rooms, yet the walls were paper thin and you could hear full conversations happening at normal speaking volume in the next room over. While there was still air conditioning in this building, you literally could do nothing to change the temperature. It was freezing all the time. The layout of the building was also very strange and maze-like. I admittedly got lost several times trying to find the laundry room. At least the showers were bigger.

Pros

  • Larger rooms and showers
  • Good amount of storage
  • Air conditioning
  • Close to classes
  • Secluded rec room in basement

Cons

  • Paper-thin walls
  • Very noisy
  • Confusing layout
  • Felt like I was living at school 24/7

South Campus

The HILL

college dormitory, bridge with lamp posts, back entranceway

college dormitory, front entranceway, flat facade, 6 floors, windows

After my experience in the freshman dorms, I packed my bags and moved down south where I’ve lived in the HILL for sophomore, junior, and fall semester of my senior year. As you can tell, I most definitely prefer south campus to north. When I lived on north campus, it felt like I was at school all the time. I never had that feeling of “coming home” after a long day of classes. I also am not a fan of noise and let me just say that the weekends on north campus could get pretty crazy. Not to mention, probably the two biggest college celebrations, Homecoming and St. Patty’s Day, were held on north campus. I was rarely in my dorm rooms during my time on north because I just couldn’t focus. I would instead go to the HUB to study or to the library and really only came back to my dorm to sleep.

Now with my transition to south campus, I found a calmer, more serene environment. There was music all the time since it is the music and art campus, the garden by Benigna statue to relax, and it was closer to Downtown Bethlehem. Wednesday night coffeehouse took place every week in the basement of Main Hall where students can get unlimited coffee/tea and snacks for just $1! Plus, I had my privacy in the HILL suites. Although rules and roommate contracts still applied in the suite, (mainly just be respectful of the shared living spaces) it was nothing like the dorm rooms.

While I personally have not had a great deal of frustration with the shuttle schedule, I know the vast majority have had issues, especially in the morning before 9am and the weekends. The other downside to the HILL is that even though you get your own room, you still have to deal with suitemate disputes about the shared living spaces. My main problem has been in the kitchen with people not doing their dishes and being respectful of the common space. Otherwise, it’s easy to keep to oneself. I have found that as long as a set of ground rules are established and agreed upon by all suite members, living together is easy and enjoyable.

Pros

  • No roommates
  • Feels like an apartment with friends
  • Personal space
  • Updated appliance kitchen
  • Scenic
  • Close to Downtown Bethlehem
  • Privacy
  • Peace & quiet

Cons

  • Shuttle schedule
  • Sometimes late for classes
  • Not as much to do on campus
  • Suitemate disputes about cleanliness in shared living spaces

Off-Campus/Commuter

Apartment Living

photo of apartment, brown leather sofa, rotating silver wall clock, bookcase with DVDs, wooden coffee table, gray recliner chair

Let me start by saying just how amazing it is to have my own place. Living off campus definitely has its many perks, some of the best ones being no roommates or suitemates, freedom to do whatever, whenever, no quiet hours, and the liberty to make my own rules. I can decorate how I want and don’t have to worry about room inspections or having to pay for damages to the property that I didn’t make. It’s about as free as you can get without owning your own home.

However, the cost of freedom can be high. With the newfound freedom of living off-campus comes bills, groceries, furnishings, etc. Although not nearly as expensive as living on campus, it is still expensive to supply your own things and food. You are 100% on your own. When I lived on campus, my second home was basically the Writing Center in Zinzendorf Hall. Now, I come back home to my apartment after classes and find myself missing my friends. It does get a little lonely sometimes. Also, without a meal plan, it’s taught me to budget for groceries, buy things in bulk, and plan my meals for the week. It’s cheaper and more efficient, but you get really sick of eating the same thing for both lunch and dinner 5 days in a row.

Pros

  • No roommates or suitemates
  • 100% privacy
  • Freedom to make your own rules
  • Decorate how you want
  • No quiet hours

Cons

  • Expensive (rent, bills, furnishing, groceries, gas)
  • Miss friends
  • Finding parking on campus
  • harder time to attend events on campus 

I must say though, out of all the living situations I’ve been in during my time at college, I would probably still call The HILL my favorite dormitory. While I would not change where I live now, I can honestly say some of my best times and memories I have made at college have been in my HILL suites.

No matter where you live, the friends you make at Moravian College and the city of Bethlehem will always be there to welcome you home.