As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, I spent this past summer taking organic chemistry and physics here at Hopkins. Surprisingly, taking classes wasn’t the worst part of my summer, however, that title easily goes to my summer living situation…man those AMR’s were a blessing. I mean, getting a clean, semi large, furnished room to share with a wonderful roommate (shoutout to Zooey He for being the OG roomie) was great. Not to mention the bathrooms were constantly cleaned by the university, and we were not more than two minutes away from the dining hall…life was good. Unfortunately, as soon as Freshman year ends, so does your lease, and with it dies the lack of responsibility that you’re afforded when living in dorm style housing.
the comfy confines of Royce 104, my room freshman year
During the summer I would have to live somewhere else, but that couldn’t be too bad for someone who barely knew how to do dishes and hadn’t cleaned a bathroom in his 19 years of existence, right? Welp…I was dead wrong. My friends and I searched for housing for a good couple of months before the summer started. Most of them settled on nice apartments in established housing communities such as The Varsity, Homewood, The Guilford, and even 9 East 33rd, the brand new apartment building right in the center of Charles village. My summer housing group and I however, didn’t really like the idea of paying $1000 dollars a month for comfy, plush housing. We were willing to sacrifice on ease and comfort if it meant we would be saving a lot of money. So naturally, when we were offered a room in a row house that could sleep three for the low price of $750 a month we jumped on it. I mean, $250 per month per person was ridiculously cheap, like I’m talking Burger King chicken nuggets cheap…it was insane. We figured that, no matter how dingy the place was, $250 was just too good of a deal to pass up; in hindsight… well I mean they say hindsight is 20/20 right.
Facial representation of how everyone felt before living in the row house
The first thing we realized when we got there was that the house was owned by a group of fraternity brothers. The smell of cheap alcohol, rotting garbage, and general griminess wafted through the house at all times, somehow even managing to make it to the fourth floor. As soon as we entered we were physically knocked backward by the unbearable stench, and had to basically run upstairs to evade this assault on our nostrils (we quickly realized that running was futile, and that the stench wrapped around you like a coat). As if the smell wasn’t bad enough, we soon became acquainted with our unwanted neighbors, rats and roaches. They scurried across the floors at all hours of the day, oblivious to what was going on around them, blissfully unaware of the terrified and furious residents who wanted to get rid of them at all costs. The problem was that no matter what we did, whether it was throw garbage away outside of the house, pick up all dropped food, set out traps, or even call exterminators, our multi-legged guests simply came right back; their resiliency was admirable really. Now, you can get become nose blind to bad scents, and as long as you know where not to look, or more importantly where not to step, you can avoid the pest issue for the most part. Not having a place to sleep or a place to put your stuff, however, is an issue that doesn’t have as clear cut of a solution.
Me after living in the house
See, while the room we were given had enough room to sleep three, there was only one bed that slept two. At first we solved the issue by moving in a cheap futon that someone gave to us for free, on the condition that we would dispose of it when we were done. Unfortunately, it became apparent very quickly why we were given the futon, and even more apparent why we were asked to dispose of it, as two of the legs broke within a week and It became essentially unusable. This left two of us to sleep on the bed, and one of us to make the unenviable decision of either sleeping on the broken futon and hoping it didn’t fall over, or sleeping on the hardwood ground and getting comfy and cozy with the rats and roaches. I ended up choosing option c…sleep somewhere else. I switched between bumming my friends couch at The Varsity (shoutout to Vikram and Anish, love y’all), sleeping at my girlfriend’s place in Homewood (Thanks Claire <3), and snagging the open rooms in the house when someone was gone for a few days (Sorry homies, I had to do what I had to do).
This was pretty much me this summer
As if the living situation couldn’t get any worse, the icing on the proverbial cake of sadness was that I literally couldn’t access half of my things while living in the house. The “storage situation” we were promised while living in the house turned out to be a single unoccupied room that was crammed with EVERY frat and house member’s belongings. Differentiating my own things, let alone actually accessing them became an uphill battle, and most of the time I ended up just trying to subsist off of the little stuff I actually had access to. What was worse is that around halfway through our stay the frat brother living in that room ended up coming back and everyone had to move all their stuff, so it was moved to the dining room. While this meant accessing our stuff was now semi-possible, it also meant that we had no access to the dining room outside of the microwave. Additionally, my stuff was now spread out over three different floors of the house, meaning that picking all of it up when it came time to move out would be excruciatingly painful…In the end I had to take four separate trips back to the house because something or the other had been left in a tiny corner of the residence.
My experience in the row house was anything but pleasant, but hey, I now appreciate university housing a heck of a lot more, that’s for sure.