A Definitive Ranking of My Housing Experiences

International House lit up in blue and yellow lights as viewed from my co-ops sundeck
A view from one home to another: from my co-op’s backyard you can see I House!

Renting my own off-campus apartment? Been there. 

The quintessential freshman dorm experience? Shout out to Unit 1 Deutsch Floor 4! 

The Co-Ops? Spent a lovely summer in Berkeley in a house.

And now, I’m residing in International House, back to dorm-style living. While many Berkeley students try to stick with one residence to reduce the amount of moving, I have not exactly taken this approach. From experiencing these four very different, unique housing situations so far, I wanted to comment on my experience in each!

  1. Living in freshman dorms. I really, really loved living in a 35 person, co-ed floor, with one central restroom and study lounge, surrounded by friends. It was noisy at times, but it was a community, exactly what I was looking for in my first year. When I think of the nine months I lived in Unit 1, I think of sitting on the carpet of our hallway, having conversations with friends well-past our bedtimes, and watching the sunset from our windows that faced the Golden Gate. And we can’t forget the package deal for a meal plan which honestly defines on-campus living. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I’m Crossroads #1 fan. Boy, do I miss those Luscious Lemon Bars and Vegan Chicken Tenders. All in all, I would give the dorms (except for the cost) a rating of 8/10. 
  2. Living in an apartment. Lucky for my three friends and me, we landed on a residence close to campus with decent landlords and signed for a year-long lease. I decided to live in a co-ed apartment (2 guys, 2 girls), which was a perfect dynamic to come home to everyday in the midst of a busy sophomore year. I’m not big into cooking, so staying fed was probably the biggest struggle to my apartment days. Otherwise, the extra time associated with living on your own could be around 2 hours a week doing chores to keep the place in shape. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Just make sure you are living with people you can envision still tolerating even 12 months down the line, to guarantee an experience as positive as mine.  Rating: 7/10
  3. Living in a co-op. This past summer, I lived in a house of about 30 people on Southside, where everyone would have to work 5 hours a week per the Berkeley Student Cooperative system. I was elected as the Waste Reduction Manager, which meant instead of washing dishes, I was digging in the recycling to make sure we all sorted our waste. The co-op was good for my social life, as I get introverted when deep in my studies, but even studying in the living room meant there was always someone to keep me company. My house was mellow, but there are co-ops for all themes and all personalities, including party-type and study-focused. Although I had a pleasant experience in my co-op, I probably wouldn’t do it again because the workshift adds up over time, but other than that, when else in your life will you get the chance to live with anywhere from 15 to 150 (!!) college students?  Rating: 7/10
  4. Living in International House “I House” A few weeks ago I moved into this dorm-style residence and have loved my experience so far, largely because of the food! It is known to serve some of the very best meals around, and my tummy has been very happy to consume 19 hearty meals every week. Additionally, the program office plans awesome community-building events, including a weekly Coffee Hour in our main hall, and other excursions like a trip to Alcatraz a few weeks back. While I’m not international, 75% of the people living there are from around the world, and I encourage you to immerse yourself in the environment especially if you’re like me and are curious about the cultures of the world but haven’t been able to travel everywhere. Rating: 9/10

Hope you enjoyed my evolution of Berkeley housing options, and I still got another year in Berkeley so I’m not done yet, I’m thinking next we try Bowles Hall or on-campus apartments!

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Author: Katia Gibson

Hello! I'm Katia, a senior chemistry major and Cal Teach minor, and you'll either find me in the 24 hour library studying or out chasing sunsets on my long runs. I'm a Bay Area native and I also do work in the environmental community, research in an organic chemistry lab, and dance with Ballet Folklorico Reflejos de Mexico. Hoping that I can share a little bit of Berkeley's magic with you all, go bears!