UC Berkeley student housing stories: Junior year

Amanda Ramirez/Senior Staff

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This interview has been updated to include an interview with Shannon Hong.

Editor’s note: For the last two years, The Daily Californian has interviewed five UC Berkeley students about their housing situations. This year, The Daily Californian talked with four of those students to follow up on their housing journeys. Follow up in next year’s Housing Issue to see where they end up. These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.

Jessica Mendoza

What is your living situation this year? Is it different or the same from in previous years?

This year I am living in an apartment on Northside that is really close to campus. The apartment is furnished and is run by property managers that take care of paying the bills and getting problems fixed. We stuck with this company for two years because we found it very convenient that the house was already furnished. We will probably stick with it again next year since we don’t want to suddenly buy furniture our last year. This place is quite smaller than our place last year which was really spacious and nice. This year we converted the living room into a bedroom, so it is a bit inconvenient.

How did you decide to live in your current home?

We needed to find a smaller apartment, and we also wanted to pay less rent. We wanted to stay with the same company though because of familiarity and consistency. I visited multiple open houses one day and found that this place was super close to campus. My roommates and I then had to decide whether or not we were willing to move into this one-bedroom apartment.

Are you living with the same roommates as in previous years?

I am living with three of the five people I lived with last year. We are all close friends, so we decided to stick together. Luckily, we didn’t have any problems with each other’s habits. Living together has made our relationships stronger.

How was the transition to your current place from the dorms and from where you lived last year (if it’s changed)?

My experience living in the dorms was greatly different from where I lived my second year. In the dorms, I felt bothered that we had such little space and privacy. The triple layout made me feel a bit claustrophobic. I also was not a fan of communal bathrooms and compromising with floormates about community rules. All of that being said, I still appreciated the uncomfortable experience because it made me more grateful for my room and amenities in my real home. In my second year, our apartment was very spacious and very well furnished. It was a huge difference for me. This year, we live in a smaller apartment but still comfortable.

Do you have housing plans set for next year?

We hope to live in the same apartment next year, but we are still in a negotiation period. Hopefully, we get to an agreement soon because I would like our housing to be secured and off of the list of things I have to worry about.

How would you describe your housing journey in the last three years?

It has been stressful trying to find affordable housing and negotiating with landlords to get to a price that meets our budget. It has been pretty cool, however, to get the experience of searching for places, preparing applications, signing leases, bargaining and other skills that I have only practiced in this journey. Now that I have experienced apartment living, I have a better picture of what environment I would like to live in the future. The inconveniences that I have experienced in my housing journey have definitely made me more appreciative of my childhood home.

Inaara Charolia

What is your living situation this year? Is it different or the same from in previous years?

It’s different! I moved to an apartment on the other side of campus and am now living with all new roommates.

How did you decide to live in your current home?

It was a bit spontaneous — I missed this side of campus and was seeking some change. When some of my other friends were looking for a fourth roommate toward the end of last year, I decided to make the move. College is a time to explore and try new things, and I felt like moving was a great way to expose myself to new experiences.

Are you living with the same roommates as in previous years?

I’m not anymore. My old roommates are still some of my closest friends — I just felt like switching things up! I am currently living with three other girls, two of whom I befriended at a summer camp in Kenya four years ago.

How was the transition to your current place from the dorms and from where you lived last year (if it’s changed)?

Luckily, the girls I’m living with now found a great place for a reasonable price, but I recall my experience freshman year searching for housing and summer storage was definitely a challenge. Moving was also a bit of a challenge, but having friends and family to help make the move and get settled made things easier.

Do you have housing plans set for next year?

I will likely be living in the same place with the same roommates!

How would you describe your housing journey in the last three years?

Super lucky! I’ve learned that the people I live with is what makes the biggest difference, and I’ve been lucky enough to live with some amazing friends these past few years.

Gianina Wicaksono

What is your living situation this year? Is it different or the same from in previous years?

I’m living in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment on Southside, near frat row. I’m a third year now, and so far I’ve moved apartments each year.

How did you decide to live in your current home?

After I had decided to move out of my previous apartment, I found a listing on Facebook’s Free & For Sale group that was looking for a fourth roommate, and their apartment was only one block away from where I had lived. So, I messaged the girl, had a little interview, and I moved there for the 2018-19 academic year. Luckily, the apartment I’m living in now has been rent controlled for five years, so I’m paying a relatively cheap rent compared to Berkeley’s market rent price for a 2 bed, 1 bath.

Are you living with the same roommates as in previous years?

No, I am not. I had an unfortunate situation last year where my roommates failed to communicate crucial information about their personal living arrangements for the upcoming year. Moving out of the apartment last year was a clear decision too, as there was a lot of unnecessary and toxic tension between my previous housemates. I am living with three different students this year, and they are lovely and I’m happy! I really think having a good housemate and roommate dynamic made a huge difference to my mental well-being and especially how I experience my time in Berkeley.

How was the transition to your current place from the dorms and from where you lived last year (if it’s changed)?

Since I’m an out-of-state student with busy parents, I’ve had to move twice during my time in Berkeley, and I had to move out myself. Luckily, I’ve only had to move to locations that aren’t too far apart from one another, so I didn’t need to shell out for a U-Haul or a moving company to help me out. Last year, I borrowed one of Unit 2’s large moving carts (the ones they let you borrow during move-in days), and I just lugged my stuff up and down the road. It really helped that I had a friend or two to help me move the bigger types of furniture around.

Do you have housing plans set for next year?

I plan to stay in the same apartment for my last year in Berkeley. It’s very close to campus, and I can walk to four different bus stops within four minutes from the apartment, so I’m content with the place. I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about moving around anymore, at least for the next year.

Shannon Hong

What is your living situation this year? Is it different or the same from in previous years?

First semester of junior year, I lived in my sorority house, which was an experience for sure. I loved my roommate, who also happened to be the first person I’d talked to in the house. There an amazing kitchen staff, which was convenient for the hectic semester I had, and communal living space for everyone, where I spent a ton of late nights coding with friends. Definitely different from the past year, when I lived at I-House with an awesome Japanese roommate. This semester, I’m abroad at Tsinghua University in China; it’s a single with its own bathroom in a dorm made for international students. I’ve always liked an international living space, with many different cultures and ideas, so this is actually quite similar to my experience at I-House in Berkeley.

How did you decide to live in your current home?

First semester at the sorority, I wanted to try out sorority living, being in an all-girls environment can be quite empowering. I decided to study abroad, because I wanted to become truly fluent in Chinese, so it was a no-brainer to travel.

Are you living with the same roommates as in previous years?

Definitely different roommates — I love meeting new people, so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know so many people better, which is great.

How was the transition to your current place from the dorms and from where you lived last year (if it’s changed)?

The transition was fine. Not so stressful, I guess I’m used to moving around.

Do you have housing plans set for next year?

Next year is going to incredible. I actually came to college with my best friend from high school, but we decided not to live together the first three years, especially since I took a gap semester freshman year to work for Clinton in New York. We’ve remained very close, so we decided that senior year, we’d live together, along with one of her other friends (a roommate from freshmen year)! We’re looking for housing right now, or should I say, they’re looking. Bless them! I’m abroad, so it’s harder to be involved in the housing process. But, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun next semester.

How would you describe your housing journey in the last three years?

For me, housing has really shifted with what I’ve desired of my life and school experience at the time. Housing is a reflection of where you are in life, perhaps. Freshman year — a somewhat chaotic mess of dorm living. Sophomore year at I-House — getting myself together with people I admired who have extraordinary perspectives about the world. Junior year — being with good friends and exploring the world. Senior year — enjoying the end of college with my best friend, celebrating the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens with some good wine, I’m sure.

Camryn Bell is the special issues editor. Contact her at [email protected] .