I live in a grungy apartment that I’ll euphemistically describe as homey. I share the apartment with so many girls that our home would legally be considered a brothel in several U.S. states. Our oven likes to smoke, our porch light flickers like a horror movie backdrop and our shower floor is dotted with unidentifiable brown spots.

Compared to how I grew up, my living situation is a shock.

I grew up in a middle-class area. My house had multiple stories and my garage stored multiple cars. I had my own bedroom and a big, beautiful bathroom. My family had two fridges to accommodate all of the food we acquired on overzealous Costco runs. 

Comparatively, my living situation these days feels tragic. I find myself reminiscing about the simple, little things from my childhood home.

I think about how the air conditioning reached the upstairs of the house. I remember how I had more than 5 square inches of freezer space. I miss having colored paint on the walls. I miss the yard. I miss hardwood floors and clean, fluffy carpets.

Nowadays, things are quite different for me.

To wash my clothes, I have to journey outside, around our building and into the frightening underworld of our laundry room.

On three separate occasions, my kitchen sink erupted with water and needed to be replaced.

One day, after calling the landlord to fix our door that refused to unlock, the handyman removed our door handle and left. For half an hour. I sat in the living room listening to the wind whistle through the hole in my door and trying to convince myself that it wasn’t metaphoric of my life.  

In addition to the wonderful amenities and customer service, my home is in a great area. A few weeks ago, someone snuck into our apartment and took a laptop, textbooks and a wallet.

At the time, I felt violated, angry and scared; someone off the street had entered my home and rifled through my things. My roommates reacted in a rainbow of emotion — they were frustrated, guilty, sad, anxious and stressed out.

But the medley of bad emotions brought us all together. The next day, we played a makeshift game of baseball in the parking lot behind our apartment, sprinting around in the rain. Afterwards, we ordered the family dinner box from Pizza Hut.

The break-in provided a healthy dose of reality for me. The real world is not the same crime-free, suburban utopia that I grew up in. The real world requires a door lock and maybe even a house alarm.

Even with a fancy alarm, my apartment is a glorified shit hole, but my roommates and I endured it together. We stayed up together when the neighbor’s music kept us awake, we banded together when a squirrel snuck in our ceiling and we shared the burden of cleaning out our freezer. And we’re closer because of it.

In all honesty, I live in a crappy apartment and the majority of the time, it is an unpleasant experience. But I think it is necessary. I can’t just flit from my charmed middle-class home, to my hotel-like Ogg dorm room, to the infinity pool at the Hub.

First, I needed to deal with uncooperative landlords. I had to figure out how to fight with my roommates while staying friends. I had to suck it up when there was no way to fix the problem.

I needed to see what living in a cheap apartment felt like. Now that I know, it’s easier to motivate myself to do homework so one day I will be successful enough to own an in-unit washing machine.

Living in a shitty apartment at a world-renowned university has also forced me to realize that even at the worst times, I have a roof over my head and a fully-stocked freezer. It is eye-opening to recognize that even this is the high-life.

Coping with my apartment has forced me to consider the true value of a home and taught me to appreciate what I actually do have: a warm place to sleep, roommates to bitch at and bitch about, a fridge to store my food and a really large bean bag.

Teresa Turco ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in psychology and economics.