Whether you’re heading off to school, or gearing up for another year of higher education, the decision to live in dorms, or live off-campus is one that deserves some closer thought. We’ve interviewed a range of students – current, former, and graduates – from across the greater Boston metropolis, trying to get a closer look at the experience of living off-campus while attending college in Boston or the surrounding area. It’s our hope that these interviews illuminate what it’s like to live off-campus in Symphony, and other neighborhoods in Greater Boston.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us: we really appreciate it
No problem, happy to do so.
Let’s get right to it. You lived in Symphony during your time in college, correct?
Yep. I went to Emmanuel College, which is right there in Fenway.
Did you start out living on-campus?
Yeah. I lived in Loretto Hall, which is Emmanuel’s freshman dorm.
Did you have roommates? A single?
Oh, I had roommates all right. I was in a triple: there were three of us crammed into one small room. I’m talking like, 50 by 50.
Not a lot of space for three people.
Not even close, no.
So was that just beds and a desk?
More or less, yeah. One bunk bed, one single, and three little desks. There was a tiny like, corridor that passed through the middle of all that. There literally was not enough room for two of us to walk past each other – if somebody was standing up, you had to wait for them to move in order to get past them. You were always up in each other’s business, there was no space at all.
So tell us about your roommate situation. Good, bad, horror story?
No horror stories, no. Nothing like that.
Glad to hear it.
Glad to say it. I mean, it was good. Not perfect. You take these three strangers, we’re all first year at college, and there was no discussion beforehand. You don’t pick who you’re going to be living with, it’s just show up, these are your roommates, figure it out.
It’s difficult managing three distinct personalities in one room, you know? Maybe your roommate likes to go out on a Friday. Maybe you like to go out on Saturdays instead. Maybe they’re coming in at like, two in the morning when you’re trying to sleep. Maybe they’re making noise when you’re trying to study. Or you’re doing the same to them.
You mentioned studying. How did living in the dorm affect that?
Not going to lie: it was rough sometimes. If you want to study on-campus, there’s basically three places that happens. There’s the places where you go to eat – Marian Dining Hall, or a cafe – or maybe you go to the library. And then there’s your dorm room.
And the thing for me was always, I found it so hard to get into a groove in my dorm room. Somebody is always, always there. I would get distracted – it wasn’t even my roommates doing anything particularly bothersome or anything, you’re just up in each others’ space. Pretty much constantly.
Was that what led to you moving out? Having your own space?
Having your own space, your own room, the opportunity to decorate to your liking… it’s actually yours, you know? If I wanted to be alone, I could do that. Quiet place to study? I had it when I wanted it. That was kind of the first aspect of why I wanted to move off-campus.
What was the second?
It’s cost-effective. Living off-campus – especially if you have roommates – you add up rent, utilities, it drastically undercut what it costs to live on campus.
Nice. So how was it living in Symphony – or Fenway, I guess?
Right? I lived there, and I didn’t even know there was a place in Boston called Symphony, we all just called it Fenway.
Living in Symphony, how do I explain it? It’s literally livin in the city. You have Fenway Park right down the street. Some of the most famous bars and restaurants in Boston are right there – Sweet Cheeks, the Baseball Tavern – basically at your backdoor. It’s a transportation hub, you’ve got the Fenway T-stop right there: so if you ever wanted to get downtown, get out of town, it’s right there. And you can pretty much always catch a ride.
I know that traffic can get a little crazy during Red Sox games: was that an issue?
Not really, no. If you live in the Symphony area you probably don’t have a car anyway. At the end of the day, the only real hindrance is that the T would be a bit more packed. It was actually fun, people coming from all over to baseball games. You’d get to meet all sorts of people, it was always a lot of fun.
Sounds like it. Outside of game day, what was the community in Symphony like?
I mean, it’s the colleges of the Fenway. There’s Emmanuel, but ther’es also Simmons, Wheellock, Mass Art… all these schools right there in this little area. So if you wanted to catch a college game but your school wasn’t playing, you could head over to one of the other colleges and watch their teams.
Sounds like there’s a kind of college community there, on or off-campus
Absolutely. You could take stuff at other colleges too. If there was a class you wanted to take, but your school didn’t offer it or whatever, maybe your school had a partnership with one of the other schools. With all the schools around, you got to meet a bunch of other students just by living off-campus in Symphony.
After graduating, did you or any of your classmates stay in Symphony?
I moved out, but I’m still in Boston. I knew some people who stuck around, and some who moved away. Really, it depends on where your job is. If you work outside the city, you’re fighting traffic going in and out, so living in Symphony after you graduate can be rough if that’s the case. But if you work in the city, then you’re right there, so it’s perfect.
Final thoughts? Insights you want to share about living off-campus in Symphony?
It’s one of the best areas in Boston: for students, for anybody. You have access to all of Fenway, and you don’t have to deal with congestion on the T to get there. You’re already there. It’s basically dead center in Boston, so anywhere you’re going, you’re basically halfway there already.
It’s ridiculously convenient for students: living off-campus in Symphony is still more or less on campus. I think it’s one of the most ideal places to live, ’cause you’re literally right in the middle of everything, and you’re close to anywhere you want to go.
Thanks again for talking with us.