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  • Writer's pictureLauren Aguilar

Welcome to my room in the RC!

A graduate school dorm is an interesting concept. Anytime I tell someone about my living situation, they usually have a long list of follow-up questions. I, too, had many similar concerns before actually moving into the RC. I had trouble envisioning what my lifestyle might be like in such a shared space.

The Residential Complex, aka the “RC,” is a dormitory complex located right across the street from the Illinois College of Optometry. Whether or not you want to live in the RC can be a difficult decision to make as an incoming student. I thought it may be helpful for anyone considering it, or for those who are starting to compile a packing list, to see inside a real, lived-in space.

When you move into the RC, you are provided with basic furniture including the bed and mattress, dresser drawers, desk, under-bed storage, and a lamp. I took the picture below on the day I moved in; it shows all the provided furniture other than a tall dresser, which is about the height of the desk. I purchased a mattress topper and large bins for extra storage which fit under my bed. I also moved the furniture around to set up my space differently.

The Basics: The RC has 4 floors of suites and apartment-style units with lounges and study rooms on each floor. The first floor also has a large shared kitchen and a laundry room. Entering first-year students are usually placed within a suite-style unit which is comprised of 2 rooms: 1 shared room that houses 2 people and 1 individual room. These 3 people share a foyer space and a bathroom.

I live in a ‘double’ or ‘shared’ room within one of the suite-style units. My roommates and I were matched based off of a survey of lifestyle and interests. Questions on the survey include topics like room temperature, sleeping/waking schedules, and study habits. Opinions on roommate match-ups differ depending on who you ask, but I have personally had a positive experience and get along well with my roommates.

The first thing most people notice when they walk into my room is the tapestry. There is a lot of white wall space in the rooms, and I think this is a great way to fill it up! (For reference, I purchased the 88” x 104” size, and it hangs from the very top of the wall and almost reaches the floor behind my bed.)

Each person in a shared room gets an equal amount of closet space. The wooden storage in my closet is technically the nightstand that comes with the room; otherwise, I brought the cube and shoe storage from home.

Pictured next is the space I share with my roommate as well as the view out our window. View varies along with room placement; In our room, we have a view of the RC courtyard and entrance to the school, but rooms on the opposite side of our hallway would have views of buildings behind the RC or may face the road.

Finally, here is a photo of my suite-mate’s single room. She has a comparable amount of closet space as each of us has in the double; her room also came with the same furniture that was provided to us in the double room.

The RC has been a fun and convenient place to live with my classmates and share the struggles of first year together. Now that I’m more familiar with the Chicago area, I plan to move into a nearby apartment with some friends next year (and have my own room,) but I think I made the right decision for myself by living in the RC as I transitioned back into school.


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