The eternal question: house, or dorm?

If you’re a Wheaton student, there’s a good chance that at some juncture, you lived in one of our great institution’s dormitories. You may live in one now!

Some of you may be second-semester freshman, whose Facebook photos from this year exist in an album titled “MEADOWS,” while others may be in the full throes of senioritis but also, somehow, stuck in Everett after coming back from abroad. Either way, at some point we’ve all known the mathematics of timing our laundry cycles with a hundred other people and drowning out the neighbors’ mysterious creaking noises.

Living in a dorm is an exercise in community, especially if you’re coming from an environment where you’ve had the privilege of having your own room, let alone your own house. Goodbye bathtub, hello shower shoes.

After a year-long sojourn on the top floor of Clark (I like to refer to it as “The Penthouse”), I was accepted to Davis House for the 2013-2014 academic year. While I was so ecstatic to move in for preceptor training week this year that I could barely sit still in my mom’s Honda CR-V on the drive from Connecticut, and while I’d like to move past dorm life entirely and act better than everyone else forever, I can’t say that living in a dorm was the Worst Thing Ever.

As is the case for most freshmen, my first friends lived on my floor. We moved as a pack from meals in Chase Round to the entry-level classes that we all took in Meneely or the old Science Center. It wasn’t until second semester that I was really able to branch out socially, but being part of a motley crew of scared eighteen-year-olds brought together only by the place in which we lived was a comfort. We shared detergent, kept our doors open and constantly reminded each other to not walk through the Chapel’s front doors. I miss that level of camaraderie on a large scale.

But then again, there are serious advantages to house life. My neighbors and I in the little white houses on Howard Street feel grateful for the privileges we’ve been granted. I say Howard Street because we on the main drag have been blessed with proximity to campus. While I sometimes feel like I need skis to get down to Chase on wintery Saturday mornings when the kitchen is foodless (that bridge over the pond is a death trap), I’m still right in the center of things when it comes to getting to class, Balfour, the library and the Den.

I know that living in Outdoors House, TWAP or BEARS is lovely, but I cringe when I see them at the tail end of their trek to class. It takes them so long to get anywhere. So if you’re a freshman and you hate living in Mac, just remember that you don’t need a golf cart to get to club meetings. The number one rule of real estate is location, but I should probably move past that and get to the real reasons I (and others) love living in a house: the community.

All houses require applications that are read and reviewed by current members. You and your housemates live together because you care about the things for which your house stands, and you’re all willing to work together to promote those ideals, hopefully making campus a better place in the process. I love living in Davis House with fourteen of my closest friends because we’re determined, involved and love the mission our house holds and how we live because of it. I would feel that way even without bonus amenities, although having a full kitchen is a serious perk.

That being said, your living situation is what you make of it. With the right attitude and the right people (and the right mood lighting), anywhere on campus can feel like home.