By Amy Schulman, Opinion & Editorial Editor ||

Campus feels unexpectedly different this semester. I arrived in late August, fueled by my confidence and eagerness to be taking classes in my major, coupled with the satisfaction that I was finally an upperclassman. I’m living off campus in my first apartment — I have my own bedroom, I have to cook for myself every night which isn’t as much of a struggle as I expected, and, for the first time, I’m paying rent. You know you’re finally a real adult when the toilet paper isn’t replaced magically under the sink anymore.

Even with my newfound confidence and excitement of being an upperclassmen, I find myself missing the community I worked so hard to establish when I lived on campus in the College houses.

Living on campus had its advantages: I could wake up at 8:20 a.m. for my 8:30 a.m. class and still make it to Keiper on time; I was a mere 100 steps from D-hall, having lived in Ware for two years; and I was constantly surrounded by students, walking to and from classes and meandering around my residence hall. No more Tuesday Bagel Breakfasts for me (when you don’t have class until 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, there’s no possible way you’re going to convince me it’s a good idea to wake up at 8); no more late-night giggling in the common rooms, surrounded by junk food, our work laying forgotten in a corner; no more walking down the hall to knock on friends’ doors; no more dorm-storming; no more shrieks and screams of students running through the halls at 2:00 a.m.; no more communal bathrooms; no more dormitory.

Living off-campus definitely has its advantages, and, while I lived in Ware, all I could think about was moving off-campus and having my own apartment, but now as I trickle back to the Residence Quad every once in awhile, a nostalgic pang hits me in the gut. I’m instantly swarmed by the memories of my underclassmen life.

Ware looks exactly the same, and, as I fob in, I’m immediately aware that everyone sitting in the Great Room and the fireplace room is unrecognizable. They sit at the grand tables, efficiently getting work done by the fireplace as I used to, where I’d warm my hands by the electric-generated fire. The seminar room is occupied by a class, and I hear the incessant chatter between professor and student. I wander through the halls, the doors decked out with signs and thematic name posters, each different with every hall I pass. The common rooms are still grungy, the bathrooms look exactly the same, but the students passing by me have all changed. I head back outside to the Ware patio, where a couple of students are rocking back and forth on the rocking chairs, soaking up the warmth this late September Saturday brings. Students float in and out of D-hall, a sanctuary I have not entered since my time back on campus, remembering my meals in KIVO, the conversations you could overhear, the lines trickling into one another as hungry students wait impatiently for dinner.

I found my closest friends in my College house and created my own personal community. I still have that community, it’s just shifted, just like we all have.

I may have to shop for groceries now instead of getting dinner handed on a plate to me, and I definitely can’t wake up 10 minutes before class and expect to make it to the other side of campus for class. But I can reason that, even though moving off-campus has been an incredible experience (even though it’s only been a month), I want to advise you underclassmen to enjoy that college dorm while it lasts because soon enough, you’ll be living off-campus like me and will be pining for that ragged, yet loveable, residence hall.