Honors Housing Overview

It’s almost that time again, where we have about a month left before school starts. That’s probably the last thing you want to hear (because the end of summer is nigh!) or something you don’t mind hearing at all, but I don’t come bearing only this news. For all of you in the Honors Program who’re looking for a place to stay, Honors housing comes to the rescue.

There’s four places currently available: Brett Hall, McCormick Hall, Jameson Hall, and Lynton Towers – North, Top Floor. The Housing section on the SAS Honors Website has more detailed explanations.

Maybe you want a peek into what it’s like to stay with others in the Program, as this is your first year on campus or part of the Program. Maybe you’re already living in Honors housing but want to know what it’s like to live in other Honors housing. Maybe you’re not in Honors housing but are curious to read others’ experiences. Maybe you’re just plain curious. Whatever the reason, you’re welcome to glean any advice and/or experiences our bloggers have to share with you. Here’s what our bloggers had to say about living in Honors Housing!

Brett Hall:

Pros

  • Great community – people are the perfect balance of work and play. (Monica Sung)
  • Super convenient – a five-minute walk from the SAC or student center, stops all of the buses run through. (M.S.)
  • WE HAVE A FORMAL – if you’re so fancy, and you already know – it’s a ton of fun dressing up with your friends and dancing the night away – this year’s theme was James Bond! (M.S.)
  • You’re only a walk away from Easton Ave and George Street where you can find just about any type of food. Think coffee, pizza, Thai food, ice cream, bubble tea, falafel… (Anya Volski)
  • There is a train station downtown – my friends and I have planned spontaneous trips to NYC and Princeton and have had incredible adventures! (A.V.)
  • Our own personal study lounge aka the Slounge – it is the designated space for cramming for exams, finishing up homework without distraction, or just some nice peace and quiet. It’s great knowing there’s a place to work in the dorm without any distraction or noise – everyone respects this space.

Cons

  • Your most convenient dining hall is Brower (which you may learn to love :D). (M.S.)
  • It can get noisy at times – which could get annoying at times, but this honestly doesn’t happen during midterms or finals, because we all respect each other. And besides, more often than not, you’re going to be the one being noisy… (M.S.)
  • NO AC – this is really awful for the first and last 2 weeks of the year, but it’s dealable. Coordinate with your roommate and get several fans! (M.S.)
  • Sharing the bathroom with a lot of other people. You get used to this after a while, and honestly I could always find an open shower. (M.S.)
  • The knowledge that there are always friends hanging out right down the hall may make it difficult to focus from time to time, depending on the person. However, this actually helped me to form better study habits in the long run, because I am now able to comfortable study while in the comfort of my room, no matter what is happening outside of my door. (M.S.)

Personal Experiences:

Brett Hall is an amazing place to live freshman year. Upon moving in, you’re told that Brett has an open door policy to foster friendships and to get people talking–whether you’re leaving your door open because of the policy or because of the ridiculous heat, it was a fantastic way to meet people. I easily became close friends with more than half of the people on my floor. Brett’s community feel is really great–people were always willing to help each other out, whether it’s working through some hard problem sets in orgo, sending you the pdf of the mandatory, yet unnecessarily expensive textbook, or even having someone to get dinner with. Brett understands the strength of it’s community and thrives on it. Brett was also the perfect mix of work and play. All my friends were serious about school, yet knew when to have fun. As a crazy and probably too hardworking type A that would never stop studying, I felt great knowing that I would always have friends sitting in the lounge that would force me to stay with them and not obsess over every little detail of my work. They really balanced me out and showed me that in college you learn the most, not from your classes, but from the amazing people you meet and the enlightening conversations you have. Living in Brett has been the best part of my life at Rutgers so far–and I can’t wait to continue living there next year! (M. S.)

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My friends and me being fabu at formal! (M.S.)

Although it is designed to give you the “dorm” experience, Brett isn’t your typical college dorm. You get to know just about everyone on your floor and other floors–I always saw it more as a big family. Every time I visited my friends at other dorms, I was horrified by how little everyone knew about each other! Brett was the complete opposite. Just keep your door open and introduce yourself to people in the hallways and you’ll make a ton of new friends in a few days. You’ll likely be living near upperclassmen so don’t shy away from asking them for advice. Even though I don’t live in Brett anymore, I live in a house with all of my Brett friends and keep in touch with the upperclassmen that welcomed me when I was a freshman! Brett Hall made my college experience. (A.V.)

I completely agree with Anya’s post about Brett feeling more like a giant family as opposed to just floor-mates and people who live in your dorm. To add to that, it was great living with upperclassmen, which freshmen who choose to live in freshmen-inclusive dorms don’t really get a chance to experience. Personally, there have been so many times when I would freak out about classes, choosing the right professors, or even just figuring out where buildings were, and there was always a sophomore to not just answer my questions, but also pacify my anxiety. I loved knowing there were people right across the hall from me who could help me 24/7 if I needed it because they were in my shoes just a year ago. (Fairooz Khondker)

I can only reiterate what the previous Brett Hall residents have said. Brett is truly an amazing place to hang out, study, and live. Coming to school from out of state last fall, a traditional style dorm with shared bathrooms and a sense of community were important factors in my housing decision, because I didn’t know a single person at Rutgers. Though I would have been close to suitemates in an apartment style dorm like McCormick, I was looking for the experience of living in a hall with a sense of community that reached the entire building, whether is an organized event like Tie-Dye Day during Floor Wars, or simply a spontaneous dorm-wide snowball fight during the first snowfall of the semester. My first year at Rutgers never would have been the same if I had lived in any other of the residence halls. I do have to admit that Brett had its downsides, as some of the other bloggers have mentioned, but the incredible friendships I have formed within its halls far outweigh the lack of air conditioning and shared bathrooms. If I had to have a do-over of my freshmen housing decision, I would choose Brett Hall time and time again. (Madeline Padner)

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Brett Hall: Post snowball fight!!! (M.P.)

As a former Brett resident who lived there for 2 years, I absolutely agree with everyone else that staying in this dorm really set the tone for my experience here at Rutgers. On the first day alone, an open door policy is encouraged to meet the residents on your floor, which helps create a friendly and comfortable environment that lasts all semester. Brett also has awesome community spirit during dorm wide events (see the picture of our beautiful homecoming window) and has had great programs in the past such as BrettTalks, Brett Formal and Mr. Brett Hall. Also, the Slounge occasionally doubles as a classroom, so if you’re in an honors seminar, you may just have to walk downstairs to go to class, which is extremely convenient and pretty cool. All in all however, the best part of Brett is the friendships you form with your neighbors, your floor, and, quite honestly, the entire dorm. I’ve made my closest friends at Rutgers with people from Brett (some who are now my housemates!) and would encourage everyone to choose this wonderful place as their home freshman year. (Hina Walajahi)

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Our fabulous Homecoming window! (H.W.)

McCormick Hall:

Pros

  • Suite setup – All the suites have their own bathroom, living room, and adjustable air conditioning!

Cons

  • Because of the apartment-like nature of the suite, it can be kind of quiet and maybe a little harder to get to know your neighbors than a typical dorm building.

Jameson Hall: 

Unfortunately, none of our bloggers have lived here. But for more information on this dorm, you can go here!

Lynton Towers:

Pros

  • The Towers are a great place to meet new people and experience the college life. With eight floors on each tower, this dorm has people with similar interests that you are bound to meet. (Emilie B.)
  • In addition, the towers include a coffee house on the ground floor where you can meet up with your friends, play board games, and study. Back when I used to live there, the Resident Assistants would also serve ice tea, water, and sometimes hot chocolate during the evenings. It was great returning from a late night class and being able to grab a free drink. (E.B.)
  • The towers have a common area where you can find some quiet in case you are looking for a place to study. My favorite place to hangout with friends, was the basement. Back when I lived in the towers, we always used to go down and play air hockey or pool. There is also a large flat screen tv where people used to gather to watch sport matches. (E.B.)
  • Another advantage of the towers is that you are in the best spot in Livingston. You are only a two-minute walk from the student center and library, and a five-minute walk from the dining hall. Unlike my friends living in the quads who needed to walk around ten minutes to get anywhere on Livingston, the Towers always placed me in an ideal spot. (E.B.)

Cons

  • The towers are pretty old, and so a lot of the rooms aren’t as modern as other residence halls. The one thing I wish I had been told before moving in, was that the rooms only had a small ceiling fan. I used to live on the eighth floor–the hottest floor. After a few nights of sweating myself to sleep, I realized that I needed to get a larger fan. So do not forget to invest in a powerful fan!!! (E.B.)
  • Another con for me was that it got quite noisy during the evenings. Oftentimes quiet hours were not respected and I would not be able to fall asleep until 2-3 A.M. If you are a light sleeper and are struggling with the noise, I would advise you to invest in a pair of good earplugs. From my own experiences, I found that as the semester progressed, it got quieter as people began to study for exams and it was a lot easier to fall asleep at night. (E.B.)

And there you have it! We hope that this post was informative, and gave you a better idea of what to expect from these dorms.

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The Real World

This summer marks the first I’ve spent in the real world. At the moment, I define living in the real world as having a 9 to 5 job, although I’m sure this definition will change once I graduate from Rutgers.

What I’ve learned this summer working in the finance department of Linde, a gas company whose American headquarters lies forty minutes north of New Brunswick, could fill several more posts. But some of the most valuable experiences and insights I’ve had this summer come from what I learn outside the company’s walls about leading a balanced life while working. I studied Chinese grammar during the first Rutgers summer session and am working on two research projects, practicing with the Rutgers’ Mock Trial team, studying for LSATs, and having as much fun as I can and relaxing during the summer before school starts.

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As I move over the summer hump and look towards next year, I’ve come to a few realizations about how I can balance the demands each of these activities place on my time.

Lesson #1 for the real world: multi-tasking isn’t all that bad.

Often trying to pay attention to two things at once leads to not really paying attention to either thing.

That being said, if you’re looking to squeeze in some extra time, multi-tasking may be your best bet. I’ve found that learning Russian, memorizing Rules of Evidence for Mock Trial, and keeping up with news can all be done while doing other things. For me, this means that when I’m commuting to and from work, exercising, cooking, cleaning, or walking around NB, I have my iPhone and am listening to a podcast, recorded text, or a language lesson.

This has come at the expense of listening to music. All I want to do when I drive home at the end of the day from work is blast Spotify. However, I can’t complain that I don’t have enough time when all the time I need is sitting in chunks throughout my day, waiting to be used.

Lesson #2: organize your life with Excel.

I love Excel. Since I’ve spent so much time learning and working with Excel this summer, I’ve tried to organize as much of my life as possible through it. I’ve explored its incredibly powerful software, but it’s the simple formatting, table, and sorting tools that I’ve found the most useful. Everything, from daily to-do lists to reading lists to shopping lists, now has its own Excel table.

Keeping organized is an important part making the most of your time, but it can be dangerous. Both Excel and YouTube can both distract, but only the former offers the chance for you to feel productive while squandering your time.

Everyone has their own way of keeping track of their life; Excel just happens to be mine. However it is that you manage it, make sure that you have something keeping you on point and that you don’t get carried away with it.

As an Excel side note: I discovered this great blog by a writer named Ryan Holiday. He has a unique perspective on how to read (and on life in general) as well as a diverse, interesting list of books he recommends. Of course my first step after browsing his site was to add a tab for his recommendations to my Excel reading list.

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Lesson #3: enjoy your time now because tomorrow things may get “realer.”

As much as I feel that in my life right now I’m doing the most work I’ve ever had to do or will ever do, I know that tomorrow will be harder.

I remember talking to my older brother when I was in 8th grade and complaining about all the schoolwork I had at the time. He told me to stop complaining and enjoy 8th grade, because 10th grade is even more difficult. Whatever I’m going through now will always seem harder than anything I’ve already done in life because past experience is the only reference I have.

It feels like I have no free time now, but that’s really not true. If I will have more work tomorrow, then there must be some time today that I’m not fully using. I’m going to find that extra time hiding in my day and enjoy it to the fullest.

The Flying Dutchwoman

Some may have heard of the ghost story of the “Flying Dutchman,” or the Dutch ship that sailed on and never reached shore. Ever since I was a child, my father always referred to himself as the flying dutchman because his job required him to travel across the world and never anchor himself in any single place.  Because he was Dutch himself, the joke always worked out pretty well for him.

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After having lived in six different countries during my life, I have also come to think of myself as a flying Dutchwoman.

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As you may have guessed by now, I am an international student. I am half Swiss and half Dutch but I have never lived in either of my native countries. Home has always been somewhere different. Although it can get tiring to never settle down in a single place, I would never trade the experiences I have gathered throughout my life. In fact, now that I have settled down in New Jersey for two years, I am already feeling ready to move on and discover someplace new. Traveling has become a lifestyle.

Every country I have lived in has formed part of the person I am today. My journey as a Flying Dutchwoman all began when I was “made in China” (one of my father’s Dutch jokes) and then delivered in Switzerland. My parents worked for another year and a half in Beijing where I apparently became almost fluent in Mandarin.

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After China, we moved to Mamaroneck, New York. During our five-year stay there, my sister Laura was born. I quickly acquired the American accent and became enthralled with all the American customs. Trick-or-Treating during Halloween was one of my favorites. In fact, during my Freshman year at Rutgers, I asked one of my American classmates in New Brunswick to take me Trick-or-Treating with her children!

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When I was five years old, we moved down across the world to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Moving to Africa was a huge change for my entire family and we had no idea what to expect. I can truly say today that the eight years we lived in Ethiopia were the best of my life. The country was rich in culture and the people made it easy to feel at home. Addis was always full of new things to discover. In fact, even our very own house provided us with endless adventures. I will never forget the time that a wildcat or lynx (we never found out which one) decided to live above our roof. At night we would hear heavy footsteps on the roof and had to keep our puppy indoors to make sure she stayed safe. One night my mother sent our guard to inspect the beast; the next morning we found him locked inside his quarters refusing to confront the “yellow eyes.” We shared our home with the cat for a few weeks before it finally decided to leave and inhabit our neighbor’s house. But the best part, though, was being in an international school with kids that came from all over the world.

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After spending eight years in Ethiopia, I will always carry a part of it with me in my heart. In fact, the first thing I did when I arrived to New Brunswick was try out the Ethiopian restaurant on George Street.

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After living in Ethiopia, we moved to the opposite hemisphere in Minsk, Belarus. We had never really heard of the country before so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Although it only had 12 students, the small international high school eventually became like a second home for us. I spent nearly my entire high school career in Minsk before moving halfway through senior year to Baku, Azerbaijan. Although I ended up having to take almost all my courses online in Baku, I was happy that the high school there had at least 30 people (you can imagine my shock when I arrived at Rutgers!!)

Nevertheless, after 18 years in five different countries, I finally graduated and chose to move once again to the United States.

People often ask me why I chose to come all the way to New Jersey, and by now, I hope the answer has become clear. I am an international student who has grown up moving around, so it has become a lifestyle that is hard to shake off. America was a place I had enjoyed as a child and could not wait to see again.

Traveling can offer you a sense of freedom; there is no end to the places you can go. If you are looking for something to do during the summer, and do not want to have to take a plane to do it, just rent a car, grab some friends, and go out and explore. I cannot wait to see where else my travels will take me.

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I Want to Ride my Bicycle, I Want to Ride my Bike…

While I respect Rutgers’ well intentioned efforts in maintaining a transportation system that attempts to unify the four sub-campuses as best as possible, most undergrads would agree that the bus system is a constant source of headache and struggle for the daily commute to class.

While for most the buses are a necessary evil, I present a solution to minimize your bus trouble, at least for some portion of the school year, and perhaps even enhance your intracampus travels. No, I’m not suggesting the helicopter oft seen leaving Johnson and Johnson headquarters (like the REXL, that also doesn’t stop at the Quads). Rather, my solution is as simple as riding a bike. Literally.

Allow me to detail my own experience getting around campus on two wheels to present the case for this timeless means of transportation. I admit my own motivation for bringing a set of wheels to campus was not for class, but rather to get myself from my dorm on College Avenue to the Class of 1914 Boathouse, located at the base of Cook Campus, each morning. It was barely a week before my old bike, which had lost its luster since I received it on my twelfth birthday, proved ill-equipped to handle the commute. So I did some research, and found a beauty of modern engineering with a frame large enough to support my own oversized build. Limited by my undergraduate budget, I settled for a used, 1970s Schwinn road bike. Because of her brilliant, candy apple paint job, she was deemed “Big Red.” Freddy Mercury perfectly captured my feelings at this point in time.

That investment paid dividends above and beyond what I could ever imagine. Despite some early rough patches, Big Red proved reliably through my first two years at Rutgers, taking me to and from practice with United States Postal Service-like dependability–through rain, snow, sleet, and heat. As the semester wore on, I came to appreciate her functionality beyond those early morning commutes. With many of my classes stationed on Busch campus, I found the bike ride to be far more enjoyable than packing into an H bus with the rest of my undergraduates. Additionally, a bike ride to the Sonny Werblin Center proved the perfect warm-up to swim practice.

Big Red served admirably before sacrificing her life in a battle against a Philadelphia taxicab in the summer of 2014. (Disclaimer: wear a helmet. Seriously. If you’re reading this, your brain is valuable enough to justify wearing a helmet). Fortunately, I was able to find acquire a worthy replacement in Big Black, who is still kicking to this day.

So in the spirit of the American Independence holiday, I invite those of you reading this to join me and find some transportation freedom this upcoming semester. Look at some of the pros.

  • Avoid the buses.
    • The wait for your bike is always 0 minutes. No need to worry about nextBus or if you can squeeze onto the LX. Your bike is your own personal chauffeur.
  • Get in a workout.
    • Taking a bike to class is a perfect way to get in some exercise throughout the day. You’ll feel more awake when you get to class.
  • Save time.
    • Turning a 10-minute walk to Alexander Library into a two-minute bike ride doesn’t seem like much, but when you add up those minutes over the course of a semester that’s substantial time to study, sleep, or just relax.

There’s no need to invest in a brand new bike. You ought to be able to find a reliable, used bike for a reasonable price. I promise you it’ll be worth your time and money.