September 7 | Written by Mitali Shukla
Independence. Freedom. They’re both hallmarks of a traditional college experience.
Annika Krein, a freshman animation and visual effects major, approached her first year at Chapman University with a desire to know what it’s like to live on her own. So, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than live in the on-campus housing arrangements, Krein and two other students rented a house on Lake Tahoe to create a unique off-campus housing experience.
“After quarantine, I’ve been craving a bit of independence. I’m 18, I’m going into college and it’s about time for me to have a taste of that independence,” Krein said. “I would have gotten it by living in the dorms, so we might as well replicate it.”
Krein’s mother decided her daughter should have an experience similar to living on-campus with other students, and set out to find other peers that Krein could live with in a different setting through an unofficial Facebook group for Chapman parents.
“The housing situation has been kind of hectic because we’ve been dancing all day and all night to try to get people interested in renting a house,” Krein said. “After all that, we only got three people in the house, but I think it’ll be fun. It’ll be nice to not be at home.”
Freshman film studies major Thomas Ginn is one of the other residents in the Lake Tahoe home, with a similar desire to experience independence in his freshman year. His father found Krein’s mother on the Facebook group and reached out about finding a house so the students could live together.
“Originally, I was thinking I would just stay living with my parents for the entire semester, but I really wanted to move out and have a pseudo-first-year experience, where I’m living on my own,” Ginn said. “(My parents) wanted me to have that freshman experience, because they had amazing times when they were freshmen meeting new people.”
The third roommate, freshman computer science major Sam Lash, deferred his admission due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, but he intends to return to Chapman next fall. He met Krein by playing Dungeons and Dragons with her and a couple other freshmen.
“Annika said that they were looking for a place and then I said, ‘You know what? It’s not going to change what I’m going to be able to do, and I’ll be hanging out with people my age,’” Lash said. “‘I might as well try it and see what I can do with these other people’ and I kind of jumped on it.”
Krein, Ginn and Lash were looking forward to living in the dorms because of the close proximity to students in their major as well as the independence that comes with living with roommates. Ginn remarked that the Chapman dorms were some of the nicer student housing facilities he had seen while touring local colleges.
“(Living in the dorms) would have been exciting because you get to see what the other majors are doing, so I was looking forward to that,” Krein said. “But, in light of current events, I’m not too bummed about it. It’s kind of hard to miss something you haven’t had yet.”
When asked about the overall effect of COVID-19 on his freshman year, Ginn said he was not only looking forward to the Chapman experience, but first-year programming and socializing with other students.
“My first reaction to finding out my first semester at Chapman would be remote was being completely sad and knowing that I would miss out on all the different things that come along with freshman year, doing all the orientation stuff,” Ginn said.
The three freshmen decided on Lake Tahoe because of its beautiful scenery and the declining number of COVID-19 cases in the area. There were 1,001 confirmed cases in El Dorado County, one of the counties that makes up Tahoe as a whole, as of Sep. 4. On the other hand, as of Sept. 6, Orange, California, had 2,258 cases out of Orange County’s total of 49,732 cases.
“I can go to class and then I can go down to the lake, or I can go shopping in the downtown area. Although my experience will be affected, I’ll be in a lovely area and be a lot happier,” Krein said. “Starting remotely will create a different dynamic to the interactions between my year and the major and also with the teachers.”
When asked if they recommend other freshmen do what they did, both Krein and Ginn encouraged their peers to get a sense of living on their own.
“Living with your parents for a whole year can be a little stifling. You’re going to college; you’re supposed to be in the dorms and you need that taste of independence,” Krein said. “Once we finally get back to campus next semester or next year, my (class) year will be much closer and much happier that we get to be together.”