SMC: Great to live there, not so fun finding where
How many craigslist adds, rental websites, and roommate wanted postings does it take for an Santa Monica College student to find adequate housing before class is in session? I’m still trying to find out. When I moved to the greater Los Angeles Area as an out-of-state student with no family or friends to accompany me on my search for shelter, I was accountable for what was to come of my strategic evenings going to class by day and room searching before dark when things tend to get sketchy.
Most non-native Californians know, there is a certain level of stress that brinks out when we are told by our own gut to attend the best transfer school in the state (possibly the nation) where they label all teachers as professors and academia is held as high as it can be at a state community college.
The SMC website welcomes all international and out-of-state students to look for housing on multiple rental sites noting that some places may be more expensive than others and they are convenient enough to include a guide for hotels.
There’s also that pathetic board collecting dust posted on the side of the International Student Center on Pearl Street, which happens to be one of the only physical housing resources designated for international students. The glass frame is filled with a clutter of outdated notecards.
“Until I came here I didn’t know about the housing [ads] on campus,” said SMC student Stephanie Forsberg from Sweden, who found her current roommate on an SMC Facebook page dedicated to Swedish students. “I first heard about it at orientation but already had a place.”
Some students who know about the center attempt to take advantage to no avail. “I go there a lot but never found anything,” said SMC student Ann Kim.
There seems to be a trend when it comes to finding a place to live for international students. “I didn’t know about the sheet of paper until I came,” said Marco Baletic, who was lucky enough to know friends in the area before moving from his home in Serbia.
However, female students might have it harder when trying to attain a proper home. “For guys it’s easier to find,” mentioned Rojin Bahraini, who moved to Santa Monica College from Iran.
An abundance of male students were hardly exposed with the same troubles as female students; the search was black and white for them unlike the female students who are more concerned about 'safety' or same sex roommates. Although I've heard many guys say that it's easier for girls to find a place to live, for young women there might be more ads available but the amount that are actually feasible to live in are slim to none.
Everyone has a different way of affording rent; some students have faithful parents or live at home and others work or take out loans.
Both the International Student Center and Student Outreach receive a fair amount of weekly ads. After leaving the International Center I was directed to Student Outreach for the helpful housing flyers designated to out-of-state or non-international students. On their porch, a single chair holding a cardboard box full of desperate roommate and essential housing information greeted me, including a self-guided tour map of campus.
As an out-of-state student I was looking for a place to live nearly a year prior to the fall semester, and like many other new SMC students not from the area, we have been scuffling around this community college territory. Students in home-stays, living rooms, sharing rooms and lucky enough to find and pay for their own room, are not alone in the search for a peaceful place to sleep and eat.
And although there were many other community colleges with on-campus housing in California and the country, I continue to commute 10 miles by bus in the morning, not because I have to, but because I want to receive the best education I can receive for lower level college work. SMC has its innovations in the classroom and off campus; with all the great ideas bursting about, one of them should include a blueprint for new student dorms.