When I first found out I had been accepted into UIUC’s voice program, I spent weeks obsessively thinking about dorm living. Which residence hall should I pick? Should I loft my bed? Which residence hall has the best food? The questions came flying and as the eldest child and the first in my family to go out of town for college, I really didn’t know where to start. That whole experience feels so long ago. Right now, I’m nearing my 21st birthday. I’ve left the residence halls and now I have an apartment, living with the same roommate I had during my freshman year. Having an apartment is wonderful, but I loved my life in University Housing, and I would love to offer advice on dorm-life from a music major’s perspective.
A large factor you should consider when deciding on housing is location. UIUC has a wide variety of residence halls that stretch across campus. You could live in Hopkins Hall by Ikenberry Commons or you could live in Busey-Evans hall, which is literally across the street from the Music Building. Location isn’t a huge concern for everybody! Champaign-Urbana’s bus system is great and a longer walk to class may not bother you. To me, however, I wanted to be as close to the Music Building and Smith Memorial Hall as possible. I wanted to roll out of bed, stick on my comfiest hoodie, and head to my 9 am music theory class within 15 minutes. This influenced me to pick housing that was on the Urbana side of campus. If you want to be close to your freshman music classes, Allen Hall, Busey-Evans Hall, or ISR is the way to go!
Another factor is the residence hall’s social life. You should decide if you are looking for a lively environment or a quieter space. I am a BUSY BODY. My friends say that I talk and talk and talk and I don’t slow down. I lived in Allen Hall, and my extremely extroverted personality paired well with my residence hall’s atmosphere. There was always a group of friends chatting or playing games in the lounge; something was ALWAYS going on. Meanwhile, I know residence halls such as Busey-Evans hall have a reputation for being more quiet and calm.
It’s also good to consider how your life in the residence halls will affect you as a musician. Does my residence hall have available practice rooms? Will I be surrounded by other music majors? Living in Allen Hall, I was in the Living Learning Community called “Unit One,” which offered amenities for musicians such as a recording studio and practice rooms. This naturally brought more musicians to the hall- I even lived across the hall from two flute performance majors!
Whether you pick Bromley Hall, ISR, or any number of the housing options on campus, I am confident you will find your home at UIUC. And the best advice I can leave you with is this: please don’t take your time in that lofted bed for granted.