Law: Housing

November 5, 2007

Kurzman did a post a little while ago about his roommate situation and I figured I would do the same.  My roommate is a generally laid back guy that has fun but doesn’t do too much stupid stuff (at least not stupid stuff like breaking stuff.)  He studies some but not more than most students here and he seems to be about average intelligence for this place.  He is short and could be attractive if he was about 70 pounds lighter.  He listens to goffy musicon Youtube but is otherwise pretty quiet.  Overall, he isn’t a bad guy to live with. 

For those of you that don’t know, I have a single in the dorms, so my roommate is always either my best friend or my worst enemy.  If your still confused about whats going on, please stop reading this blog, it is of no use to you.

Anyway, when I went away to school I didn’t have the debate that Kurzman had.  HLS has dorms for students.  All of the dorms are located on campus and all of the rooms are singles.  The rent is also significantly cheaper than an apartment, so for a student coming to a new place and used to living in a fraternity house, it definately seemed like the place to be. 

My biggest issue is what to do next year.  The way I see it, I have two choices.

Choice 1:  Try to go through to dorm lottery again.  The benfits here are clear.  Cheaper, built in social network, the comfort factor of having done this before, and the awsome location of being right on campus.  The negatives are equally clear.  Its somewhat tough to make sure you live with the people you want, you have to live in a cinder block again, my cellphone doesn’t get good reception, and I’ll no longer be a neurotic 1L, but will live on a floor with a bunch of them.

Choice 2:  Get a group together and rent a place.  Lacks all of the advantages of dorms, but does have the advantage of allowing me to live with people I like and be removed from the law school whenever I want.  The disadvantages are simple:  Somebody has to get the group together/find a place, I’ve never lived in an apartment before, it costs more, and I’ll be more removed from campus.

Notice I didn’t pick the live alone off campus approach.  I like people, a lot.  When I’m a 2L, I’ll have a life, which will be awsome, and I don’t want to be removed from people.  I can’t imagine going home to an empty apartment (sorry Kurzman) and not having people to talk to.  I went from home to dorms to a fraternity house to dorms.  Having people around is something I need. 

So the question really comes down to this:  Will I be able to get a group of people I really enjoy together to justify an apartment, or will I go the safe route of staying in the dorms again?

 All of this of course assumes I pass 1L year.

Well this is an interesting topic, and one that I feel has both med and law school utility: what to do about living arrangements. I’ll talk specifically about my situation, but understand that they probably apply to law school as well.

Going into the summer, I basically felt that I had 3 options: Live alone, live with another med student, or live with a non-med student friend. Each of these have their pros & cons, and I eventually decided to live with a non-medical school friend. I have yet to decide what I would like to do next year, but suffice to say that the writing of this post has been spurred by what I would call “a serious contemplation of alternative options.” Take that as you please.

a) Living Alone: The advantage to this route is obvious: you don’t have to even deal with the dynamics of another person. It’s quiet when you want it to be; it’s relaxed when you want it to be. The disadvantages are also pretty clear: potential loneliness and, more importantly, no one with whom to share bills!

My former college roommate–also in medical school–went this route. At the beginning of the year he found it hard because he had yet to really make friends; however, he has since made friends and changed his opinion. He really enjoys living alone, and has indeed recommended it.

I very nearly chose this option myself, but found the cost to be prohibitive. But I also didn’t put much time into finding financially feasible housing.

b) Living with another medical student: Of the three options, this is the one that I really did not receive much serious consideration on my part.

First of all, I didn’t really know anyone else going to UIC–the thought of living with a random roommate did not appeal to me at all. My randomly selected roommate during my first year at Duke was GREAT. We had a really fun time, and I can’t really remember any disagreements whatsoever. But Kurz! Why didn’t that make you more likely to try again? Basically, it was an issue of probabilities. So many people HATE their random roommates, but I was lucky enough to not fall into that category. Why chance it? The odds were surely against me.

Secondly, I’m not sure if I’d want the stress of living with another overworked/freaked out medical student. Every time I’d see him studying, I’d wonder if I should be as well. And would he question my work ethic? After all, I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADD (I know, I know…EVERYONE thinks that. But I’m actually being pretty serious with this one–that’s an issue for another day). And would it get competitive? Those were just issues I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

I have brought this back into consideration for next year, especially since now people actually KNOW each other. Still not my favorite, however.

c) Living with a non-medical friend: Ah, the choice I decided to make. To me it just made the most sense…a chance to live with a friend, a “non-med school environment” at home, and still someone to share bills with. It seemed like a great way to prevent my life from being wholly consumed by medical school and my future profession.

Except–as I’m coming to find–that is essentially impossible.

There’s just no escaping it. Almost every conversation that I have revolves around medicine in some way. I’ve missed more family parties, get-togethers with friends, and minutes of Bears Football than I care to admit. When I’m chilling out, I watch DVDs of ER (OK, so that’s just a personal quirk…however it actually does help cement knowledge. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. That’s also a post for a different day). I wouldn’t say I’m bitter–I love what I’m doing. And all of us in medical school knew what we were getting into (kinda…).

So instead, living with a non-med roommate provides [unwanted] insight into a world that I’m not really a part of–that is to say, freedom. Granted, I’m being overly dramatic. My roommate is working 5 days a week and has started into a career. But weekends are still his…a fact that is kinda being thrown in my face this very moment (He’s out drinking…I’m at home writing a post at 2am after a long night of studying). When he gets home at night, he’s essentially on his own time–minus perhaps a little lesson planning. When I get home after 6 hours of lecture, I eat dinner and then relax a bit before getting back into the books.

It weighs on you a bit.

So then, what will I do next year? As I mentioned, I’m not quite sure yet. But in all honesty, I’m leaning toward living by myself. If my roommate is currently reading this, it’s pretty much news to him. Sorry bud–we’ll talk more soon. Of course nothing is settled and I have a LOT of time to start figuring this out. But this is my current sentiment.