Observations from Oxford Street

Transitioning to off campus housing

More stories from Brian Sheridan


Photo by Brian Sheridan

The path many off campus residents take to school everyday.

Looking back, enrolling at UW-Eau Claire was my first step towards true independence. I was finally away from home and surrounded by 10,000 others looking to figure out this whole “adult” thing.

This year, I’m going even further down that path by finally renting my first off-campus apartment.

After living on campus the past two year and enduring its up and downs, living off campus for my junior year just felt right. Adults live in real-people houses and I wanted to do that too.

There’s so much I love about it and I don’t have any major regrets. Mainly, I enjoy the amount of control I feel I have in my own life and all the freedom that comes with it.

A dorm is a 10 square feet by 10 square feet space, which you share with someone else, coupled with your 20 other neighbors who could be screaming, shouting and doing god knows what at all hours of the day.

I managed to get lucky and found three roommates whose company I enjoy immensely in our new house on Oxford Street.  It’s a big relief to not have to sit in my room, filled with seething hatred, as I listen to 14 other guys on my floor scream about a sportsball game.

One of the other benefits I almost forgot about was having my own shower. It’s such a heartwarming feeling knowing no one threw up in it before you step in with your favorite shower sandals on.

For most people here at Eau Claire, moving off campus is also the most economically sound decision you can make.

According to the Eau Claire website, between the cost of a two-person dorm room and an upper campus meal plan, you’ll spend about $6900 a year. I cut my food and housing cost in half by living in an apartment.

But I didn’t hate everything about being on campus. I think it’s essential to the college experience to live in the dorms. Students need that immersion into college culture so they can make a connection to the university and to others before they jump right into off-campus living.

There’s an energy on campus. When you live there you feel the buzz of activity. It’s exciting to think about all the different things going on everywhere, whether it be on the campus mall, in Davies, on the sidewalk, in the caf or on your floor.

You are able to connect to people easier this way. With the close living conditions, you’re bound to find new friends through either campus events, or from going to the caf together.

There’s nothing better than hanging out with a bunch of other people in the caf when it’s popcorn chicken night. I’ll miss you dearly, popcorn chicken.

Moving off campus also comes with a bit of isolation. I feel like there’s now a disconnect between me and everyone on campus. My neighbors are elderly women and a church so I don’t really get to hear the night light up with a buzz of activity anymore.

Unlike dorm life, there’s almost no neighborly bonding. Everyone on your street seems to do their own thing. I didn’t expect to make any new friends simply by moving off campus but at times it’s an eerie silence.

Nevertheless, I push forward. I’ve only just begun the school year in this house and I’m excited to see what challenges I face as I press on to my next life milestone, whichever one that may be.