Can you really live in the library?

Can+you+really+live+in+the+library%3F

The advertisements for the Marquette Fall 2013 Housing Guide do their best to make paying to live near campus appealing. Every dorm lobby proudly displays that familiar picture of an exhausted girl sleeping on her textbooks, with the warning: “Don’t live in Raynor if you don’t have to.”

But what if you do have to, I wondered. What if, by some dramatic turn of events, you want to? Is this the perfect scam to cheat the housing system?

There was only one way to find out. I decided to live in Raynor for three days. I wouldn’t go back to my dorm. I would eat in the night halls, shower in the Rec Plex, carry the essentials in a backpack and curl up in the library, open 24/7 to students.

I found an ally in my friend Ashley Morgan, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, who agreed to take part in the experiment with me. We were going to be roommates, but with less “room,” more books and occasional run-ins with frantic students pulling an all-nighter.

When I told people I was willingly going to be homeless for three days, the response was always the same – utter disbelief.

Once the astonished laughter subsided, my friends eventually overcame their underlying skepticism and admitted that what Ashley and I were about to attempt was pretty interesting.

The issue of housing is such a constant pain and expense for upperclassmen. Rates for on-campus apartments increased by more than 3 percent over the past year. Studios in the Gilman Building currently have the lowest total cost at $428 a month, while Campus Town three bedroom corners cost $1,904 a month or $635 a person with three occupants. If you could stick it out at the library you would save more than $7,600 a year rather than living in Campus Town.

That’s if you can stand it.

In reality, living in the library for three days begins much like pulling an all-nighter, a practice all too familiar to the students I encountered.

As I began to settle into my temporary “home” I noticed each nighthawk had his or her own ritual for staying awake until dawn broke. Some drowned out the silence with punk rock tunes blaring through their headphones. Others chugged coffee like it was water. No matter how brutal the hours got, their motivation lay in the thought of a warm bed with comfy pillows waiting for them once their nocturnal stint ended.

My bed consisted of a maroon leather loveseat with a gray pea coat for a blanket.

I came to appreciate that to live without an apartment or dorm means relying on public facilities, including restrooms, which poses an awkward predicament.

It is perfectly acceptable to wash up and get ready for bed in certain public settings, like when you’re waiting for an overnight flight at an airport. But brushing his or her teeth in a university library is suspicious. For this reason, it’s best to get ready for bed when there are as few people in the library as possible, which varies each evening. It reduces the chance of someone walking in on you with a toothbrush in your mouth, saving you from quizzical, judgmental stares.

In fact, most of the amenities needed for comfortable living are readily available – showering in the AMU was surprisingly roomy and comfortable, I ate at the dorms with my meal plan, I could rent a locker in the AMU to store extra stuff I didn’t want to carry and I was able to sleep on the couches without being disturbed.

One thing I will say for library living: you do meet interesting people. Granted, most are absorbed by their studies and completely dismiss the idea of conversing with other late-nighters. Take, for instance, my caffeinated friend in the black ski hat and light blue T-shirt. We were the only two people working in the southeast corner of the library between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., but he was less than willing to strike up a conversation. He was too focused on his history paper about the Germans invading Russia and his 64-ounce can of Monster.

Then, there are people like Dylan Van Asten, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, who worked on his mechanical engineering homework from the time I fell asleep at midnight to when I woke up at 7 a.m.

He readily took off his black headphones to tell me about his library observations.

“I know there’s one girl who always sits right there,” he said, pointing across his table to another one a few feet away, “(Who) studies biomedical sciences, I think.”

Since the start of the semester, Van Asten spends at least one full night a week in the library, sleeping during the day so he can be productive all night.

“I like to get everything done at one time,” he said, “and most of my assignments are weekly assignments, so I’ll just get everything out of the way in one day usually.”

Spending one night in the library to increase productivity, like Van Asten seems reasonable and after my short stay, I would say it is entirely managable, as is staying the night if you have early morning classes close to Raynor.

But after three days, I concluded that living there for an entire semester is not.

I discovered that in library, the hassle of living out of a backpack is huge. The leather couches are no Sleep Number bed. And a meal plan is a must.

But what I really didn’t take into account as I devised this mission, was the emotional aspect of such a lifestyle.

There’s a certain security that comes with owning your own living space, where you can curl up on a couch and watch TV after a long day of classes. That’s not an option in the library.

Ashley and I surprised ourselves when we both got homesick almost right away as we headed to the library to sleep. We missed the dorms, of all places.

So for those jokingly suggesting making Raynor your new home, it is possible, but having no personal space catches up to you making that $7,600 for student housing seem like a small price to pay for a home of your own.

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Tips for Library Living

–       Sleep on the second floor; switch chairs every few days to avoid suspicion

–       Avoid sleeping by windows when it is cold outside

–       Don’t strike up conversation with people at 3 a.m., or any other ungodly hour of the morning

–       Invest in a locker in the AMU to store clothes, books, and toiletries to avoid living entirely out of your backpack

–       Make friends who will let you sleep in their apartments, eat their food, and use their TVs.

–       Keep an open book or notebook close-by at night; it’ll look like you’re studying