Every coming-of-age movie I’ve watched in the past year copied and pasted the exact same opening scene: move-in day. Teary-eyed parents fade into the distance, waving goodbye to their little girl, as a Taylor Swift ballad cues the credits. The protagonist (with her unrealistically small number of suitcases) is greeted by the unbearable roommate, before later befriending the heartthrob boy-next-door. These movies, while entertaining, leave out the true meaning of move-in day. It is not just the start of a new year or the start of new friendships. In Newark, it is the start of house hunting season.

It is an understatement to say I was floored last October when I found that so many people were already signing leases for next fall. I barely knew my roommate’s favorite color or how to pronounce her last name, let alone if I wanted to commit to living with her for another whole year. (Spoiler: We did end up living together.) This year was different. Before we could even step foot in our on-campus apartment, we had our sights set on next year’s market. We were ready to take on house hunting season. 

Or so I thought. In the coming-of-age movie I had written in my mind, my eight best friends and I all lived in our dream house like one big happy family, cooking pancake breakfasts in our gorgeous kitchen every morning and having movie nights in the spacious basement every night. Clearly, there are not many places that could accommodate nine tenants around here. There are also not many dreamhouses.

Even if there were, it is not that simple. Between nine girls, there were nine different sets of concerns– one wants to live on Main Street, and another wants to live by the School of Music. Someone needs parking, while another needs an elevator. There are even emotional support pets and overnight guests to factor in. There is no perfect option. How does everyone else find a home? How do they all make it look so easy? 

What I wanted to know was how everyone deals with the train– the common enemy of all UD students and the dealbreaker for almost any lease we considered signing. My roommates and I desperately wanted to avoid living anywhere near the infamous train tracks that rob students of sleep and are the cause of ninety percent of tardies. However, we ended up eliminating otherwise perfect options because of this one minor inconvenience. 

Sophomore year so far has been a year of choices. As freshmen, our year is planned out for us. We have no choice but to live in a dorm, eat at the dining hall, enroll in our core classes, and find a way to survive the year. Sophomore year, however, we begin building a life for ourselves. We make big decisions about where to live, who to spend our time with, what path we want to be on, and where we want to be at the end of four years. For this reason, it is also a year of compromise. 

For me, I chose to live in an on-campus apartment, spend time with my roommates and my a cappella group, and find internships and opportunities that will put me on a path to a career in journalism. I have involved myself in the Honors College, RSOs, and the UDSMA program, too. Each day, I try to balance all my responsibilities, which has led to difficult choices I’ve had to make about how to spend my time. As an Honors student, we sometimes blur what we are expected to do with what we want to be doing. So, we have to tune out this noise. We cannot possibly do it all. Just like we cannot possibly find an apartment that checks all the boxes. After weighing all our options, we can come pretty close. 

In the end, my roommates and I found a compromise. We signed a lease for an apartment, even though it is near the train tracks. Next year, we will just have to tune out the noise. 

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