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The Paradox of Living In Supplemental Housing

As an incoming freshman, I was extremely excited to find out who my roommate was.  My only hope was that she wouldn’t be like the girl from The Roommate. Anything other than that situation seemed like a step up – until I got my rooming assignment, when I found out that I would be living in supplemental housing with three other girls. Suddenly living with Leighton Meester didn’t seem like the worst thing on Earth.

I mostly forgot about the situation until move-in day when I first saw the hostel I would be living in. At that point, I could really feel Penn State punching me in the face and yelling, “we hate you!” However, once I got used to living with my roommates and gave up on my idea on sabotaging a girl in East Halls into dropping out of school so I could move into her room, I have started to see some of the benefits of living in supplemental housing:

  • It’s Less Expensive:  Penn State seems to recognize that supplemental housing is a shithole and is worth a discount if  they need to live in it. It’s kind of like finding a hair in your food at a restaurant – you’re pretty disgusted, but at least you don’t have to pay full price for your food.  I pay about $500 less than if I had a standard double room
  • It’ a conversation starter: When I tell people that I live in supplemental housing, it usually invokes a sympathetic look and then a couple follow up questions. It keeps the conversation going, and while it’s never actually been enough to start a friendship, it both saves the conversation from awkward silences and gives me an excuse to talk about myself (which I love to do).
  • More clothes: I now have double the pool of clothes that I can borrow from as compared to living in a regular room. Unless you’re including all of your friends’ clothes in your pool, in which case I’m sure you have more to pick from (somebody be friends with me!).
  • It’s never boring: It’s like a slumber party every night, but with less prank calls and less “light as a feather, stiff as a board” (I know, kind of a let down).
  • Less pressure when we met:  When we all met each other for the first time on move in day (I didn’t respond to any of their pre move-in day emails — yeah they thought I was a bitch too), there was less pressure on all of us to talk to each other as a group, rather than if we only had one other person to get to know.

That’s not to say that living in supplemental housing is always like the happy living arrangement seen in Full House, unless you count me giving out moral lessons to my roommates like I’m Danny Tanner or something (I normally wouldn’t, but if you’re making out with somebody in a port-a-potty, it’s a game changer). There are also some cons:

  • Sleeping on bunk beds: I sleep on the top bunk and have about 2 ½ feet between the bed and the ceiling, so if I want to sit on my bed I have to crouch over and look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and if I’m being honest, it’s not a good look for me.
  • One closet: Between all four of us in the room, we have one closet that ranges across about half of the back wall, which is not enough. The closet is always PACKED unless one of us really needs to do our laundry, in which case, there’s a little bit of room.
  • Nobody knows that we’re a room:  Because our door is different from other doors, it looks like we aren’t a dorm, so nobody talks to us, so I’m not going to say that my floor is filled with a bunch of door racists, but it might be.
  • No alone time:  Because I’m living with three other girls, the chances that somebody will always be in the room with me are pretty high. The only time that I’m really alone is when I walk (book it) to class.
  • It’s hard to study in the room: This goes along with the one above it. Somebody is always in the room, and at night when we all do our homework, somebody always thinks of something to distract everybody else with. Almost every night, we get to the point where one roommate institutes a no talking rule, which almost always fails.
  • No heat: This one may just be my room, but I don’t get any heat. Last night I had to sleep in my winter jacket, so to say that I kind of know what the people from the movie (based on a true story) Alive were going through would be completely accurate.

Were you forced to live in supplemental as a freshman? Were your experiences similar to mine?

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Please Argue Somewhere Else: James Turchick’s Senior Column

“In the four years since I arrived at 502 Packer Hall with my roommate Mason and no clue what we were doing, I’ve become comfortable with where I think Penn State is heading.”

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