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The Daily Illini

Moving to school without leaving the city

Will Gerard, Staff writer

Being from Champaign, I’ve always been a bit apprehensive to disclose my status as a “townie” — which trust me, is quite hard to avoid given that when you first meet someone, where you’re from is generally one of the first questions asked. This is a real shame because, quite frankly, I’m proud of my hometown and of my decision to attend the University.

For those of you unaware, “townie” is a popular term used by University students in reference to those from around the Champaign-Urbana area. The term itself gives me mixed emotions. There seems to be a negative connotation surrounding its usage, as if Champaign-Urbana breeds a strange sort of people, opposed to what is presented by a perceived culturally-enriched suburban lifestyle.

However, referring to oneself as a townie can also serve as a rallying cry among locals. Seriously, I’ve heard people from as far as Arcola proudly claim the title. Arcola is a 40-minute drive. You be the judge.

During my time at the University, I chose to live on campus rather than to commute to school every day.

In my opinion, commuting back and forth would be a major inconvenience. Anyone who has attempted driving on campus can relate to what a difficulty it would be to go a semester without hitting a pedestrian.

On top of that, once you’re finished weaving around students, you still have to find somewhere to park. The cost is obviously much less than the price of living on campus, but it’s safe to say this is no small fee. Good luck to anyone having to regularly drive back and forth.

It’s nice getting to check in with my family on my own terms. In an apartment, I get the freedom of living by myself while having a safety net of my family not far down the road.

Many students, especially those who come from in-state, visit home every once in a while. It’s not much different for me, except instead of riding a crammed bus, I can easily give one of my parents a ring and have them pick me up. This is extremely convenient when I’m running low on toilet paper or need to do a load of laundry. I’m grateful that I have the privilege of walking home to hang out with my sister on a slow afternoon without the burden of re-living the dreadful days in which my mother dragged me to school.

Living at home hinders your ability to meet new people. If you’re living at home, chances are you simply won’t spend much time on campus. Some of the most interesting interactions I’ve had occurred while I was walking down the street.

Another important factor — which wouldn’t affect me since I, of course, never partake in such activities — is how one living at home can spend a night out with friends. Sure, a late-night Uber isn’t a bad choice if you (and your parents) don’t mind that you’ll have to slip back in while everyone else is asleep.

Otherwise, it may be difficult finding somewhere to stay for the night. If your pal doesn’t mind you crashing on their couch, go for it. However, that would not be my first choice.

I’m glad I made the decision to live in an apartment after my first year in the dorms, but if you are a fellow townie that happens to be living at home, I can’t knock your decision either. Odds are you won’t eat ramen noodles every night and spend much of your adult life paying off student loans. Ultimately, do what is right for you.

Will is a sophomore in Media.    

 wgerard2@dailyillini.com

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