Editor’s Note – Three years ago, members of The Daily Californian interviewed five campus freshmen about their housing situations and checked in with them every year following. This year, the Daily Cal re-interviewed the five students, now campus seniors on the brink of graduation, for the last time in this series to find out what they have learned over the past four years. These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.
The Daily Californian: Last year, you talked about living in an apartment. What prompted you to move to International House?
Inaara Charolia: I felt like I could really have an apartment experience any time I want in my life, but a dorm experience is really unique to my time in college, and before I graduate, I really want to have that experience again … I think it’s been cool for me to live in a new place every year and to change things up a bit.
DC: What do you like about living in a dorm-style situation?
IC: It’s really easy to meet people and socialize; it’s less effort to grab food with people. I also just love the convenience of it. I don’t have to worry about cooking or dishes, and cleaning is a two-minute thing versus cleaning the entire house and the bathroom and everything when you’re in an apartment.
DC: Do you have any advice for other students looking into housing?
IC: I would definitely say start early in terms of looking for places, and prioritize the people you live with over how nice the place is.
DC: Is there anything that you regret or you wish you had done differently in your four years of navigating housing in the Bay Area?
Jessica Mendoza: When it comes to your security deposit or if you have some sort of cleaning fee at the end of your term, it’s really hard to argue that you didn’t do something if you don’t have pictures … We ran into that problem every year. Every year, we thought we had taken all the pictures we could … If we were to do it again, we would literally take a picture of every single corner because a few pictures each room was not enough.
DC: What is one thing that has been an important part of your experience navigating housing?
JM: For me, safety was the number one priority … Even though the price was more expensive to be (on Northside), it’s really helpful for my mental health plus my literal physical health … It’s just a choice you have to make whether you want to spend that much money, which is unfortunate because not everyone can afford that.
DC: You’ve lived in the Berkeley Student Cooperative’s Stebbins Hall all four years. What has it been like living in one place all four years?
Diego Orellana: I wasn’t intending on living there all four years … I’m very glad that I live here. I’m glad that it’s cheap and that food is included in our rent and that I can make my own food … I think that the sense of responsibility of being able to contribute to the co-ops via workshift and other administrative stuff really helped because it kind of pushed me to become involved.
DC: What’s it like living in a house with over 60 other people?
DO: It’s only effective if everyone’s down to be a part of this community and do their part … When done correctly, everyone’s part can be so easy and so trivial and then come together to something really really great … People are down to make it the space that it is intended to be.
DC: Do you know what you want to do after graduation?
DO: There’s a lot of us co-opers who stay in the Bay for a really long time after graduation — I’ve been to a couple parties this semester of groups of 5-6 former Stebbins members that all have a house together now that they’re renting, so I’m looking into little mini communities like those sneak my way into.
DC: Can you tell me a little bit about your apartment?
Gianina Wicaksono: It is a rent-controlled apartment … Given the market pricing increase the past three years, I’m very lucky to have found this apartment.
DC: How did you find the apartment?
GW: I found the apartment through the Berkeley Housing page. The first time I found this apartment, I just messaged the girl (who owned it). She showed me around. We ended up having a lot of things in common, and she liked me.
DC: Have you used Facebook every time to find housing?
GW: Facebook gives a larger amount of postings and availabilities that all people all over Berkeley have, but also your communities are a good place to also find housing. I’m in Cal Band, and there’s a community page — a Facebook group — where people would just post, “Hey, I’m going to graduate next semester. Do any of you want to move in?”
DC: Over the past four years, what have you learned about housing in the Bay Area?
Shannon Hong: Having good roommates and good people to surround yourself with is very nice. I think I’ve always been pretty lucky where I’ve never really had problems with any of my friends that I’ve lived with. You know, each time it was another interesting configuration of our relationship. But, I think this was a come-full-circle kind of moment because my friend and I — Natalie — decided freshman year that we would not live together because if we did, we would not make new friends. We would just stay in our room and just goof off together … When roommate situations happen sometimes there are problems, but turns out we are just as compatible as we were when we were in seventh grade.