Despite the fact that I’m a freshman, I got things going really fast with a girl this semester, and we’re in a happy relationship. I even visited her family over Thanksgiving, and her mom loved me. The problem is this: I’ve got a terrible, terrible exam schedule, which is forcing me take time off from work. Less work means less money. I want to do things with her before we part ways for a month-long Christmas break, and I want to buy her something nice for Christmas, but I barely have any money or time. How do I navigate a thin wallet and a fat schedule?
-Poor in Love
Congratulations on achieving worthwhile human contact! Your problem is a pretty common one, and with some creativity it’s easy to fix.
First thing’s first: you may not know this since you’re a freshman, but study days are the shit. It’s like 35 percent study, 30 percent end-of-semester parties and shenanigans, 20 percent comfort/stress eating, 15 percent naps. You can definitely fit some time in there for some romancin’. I am not saying that you ditch all of your papers and exams for fine dining for two at 1789, but you can spend your study breaks walking the canal with your girlfriend rather than wasting time on Buzzfeed and submitting Georgetown Compliments about yourself. Also, see if you can change your remaining work hours to early morning or late afternoon, so you’ll have the rest of the day to do what you please. Bosses are usually flexible schedule-wise during exam season, especially if you conveniently stress-cry in front of them.
As for your thin wallet, remember that not every nice Christmas present is an expensive one. Think really hard about what you’re going to get her, and go the clever, heartfelt route rather than the flashy, expensive one—meaning stay away from M St., unless it’s that awesome new thrift store, Buffalo Exchange. My boyfriend got me an *NSYNC t-shirt there for $4. What’s more heartfelt than that?
Finally, if you want to do some Christmas-y stuff real cheap, I’d suggest looking into D.C.’s many outdoor ice skating rinks. Admission for adults is usually only $7 or $8, which I’m pretty sure is, sadly, cheaper than a meal at Leo’s.
I’m a rising junior and went through the housing lottery. I had a shitty number, and my friends and I ended up with a dingy Village A. We’re talking a small, one story apartment, basement level, right on Library Walk. It sucks. I would much prefer living in a townhouse, or perhaps a small castle of some kind. Help me get over this.
-Gonna have a Rat Problem
Dear Rat Problem,
You’ve got to remember that getting a townhouse was almost twice as hard this year as it was last year—a lot of houses weren’t available for selection because they’re being given away to faculty or something—so you probably had your expectations too high. We can’t all be lucky like me (pause and take a moment to imagine the beautifully sassy hair toss I just did).
Remember when you were a freshman, wide-eyed and naïve and desperate for a night that didn’t involve Brown House? That freshman would think that a basement Village A is the coolest ever. You get a kitchen! You get to name your apartment something badass like “The Dungeon” or “The Bat Cave!” You are living the dream.
I’ve also noticed that the quality of your housing somewhat depends on your own commitment to that quality. Let me explain: let’s say you get lazy with decorations, or only buy a bunch of Bob Marley posters and tapestries. Maybe you never clean or vacuum. Well then, tough titties, pal. Your apartment is gonna suck. But commit to your Village A cellar and take some initiative to make it great—get some retro movie/band posters, consider a disco ball, clean regularly, play ambient music—and your little abode won’t be all that bad.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask Campus Housing to remove some furniture if you have an exceptionally small space. All Village As come with a certain number of chairs and a couch for the living room, but if you have to cram it all in and end up having no extra space, just get rid of it. You can get pillows or beanbag chairs for people to sit on, which is funkier anyway. It’s all about the ambience you create, not your lottery number.
Send Emlyn your housing selection numbers at firstname.lastname@example.org