There are plenty of awesome places to live on campus these days at SLU (apart from just the new dorm), but I wanted to talk about what I believe to be one of our more unique living options: our theme houses. This is not just because I live in one, but because so many of our students do.
I live in a theme house called The Hub (1 Lincoln St., behind 62 Park and across from the Outing Club). Our theme is essentially the promotion of nerd/geek culture. We have a large mix of different kinds of people and some of us identify as a bit "nerdier" than others, but we cater to all types, and founded ourselves on the idea that in today's society, EVERYONE is at least a little nerdy. Whether that be with Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, video games, board games, or whatever, we like to celebrate the nerdiness in all of us.
With that said, I think it’s good to sometimes take a moment to step back and see what makes our theme houses a cool living option, and why you might want to consider living in one if you don’t already. I've compiled a short and simple list of reasons why it can be great to be part of a theme house, based on my experiences.
1. You tend to make a lot of new friends.
Obviously you should try to make friends wherever you happen to be living (if not, you might want to rethink your housing choices). However, when I say you tend to make new friends with a theme house, I don’t just mean your housemates. What I’m saying is living in a theme house tends to mean meeting many more people than just the ones living with you.
True, living in a theme house makes it really easy to just simply settle in. You might find that all of your best friends are right there and you don’t have to or want to branch out, but believe me when I say that this is a particularly poor decision. Being in a theme house provides you with one of the best opportunities to connect with all kinds of people. Now more than ever our houses are connecting and mixing with one another, and even within each house there are people doing other different majors, clubs, sports, etc. Each house may obviously share at least one big common interest, but there’s so much more to a theme house than just that. So you can count on many of your housemates to be involved with a lot of things and happy to introduce you to any of them. This is to say nothing of members that may not be living in the house, or even people you meet from other houses. It took me a bit longer than I would have liked to realize it all, but it truly is important to branch out as much as you can and not fall into the trap of locking yourself into the “bubble” of your dorm or house.
2. You’ll never get bored.
I like to tell people that if you are bored on this campus, then you are probably doing something terribly, terribly wrong. There are just always way too many things going on for you to possibly be bored (if being bored to you means being in that limbo between actually doing your work and completely resigning yourself to procrastination, then that’s a different story). At the very least, one of the other nice things about our theme houses is that I can pretty much guarantee you’d never be bored living in one. For instance, how could I ever get bored living with people who can manage to turn an ordinary semester into a hodgepodge of karaoke, Nicolas Cage, flying sharks and weird selfies? (You probably shouldn’t ask about at least two of those things.) Every theme house comes with a very unique personality and I’ve found that even if you’re not obsessed with the particular theme, it’s really easy to get attached to a house just from the people living there. And if you’re looking for something to do, there’s never a lack of things going on in-house. Every theme house hosts events from time-to-time at the least, and it’s worth checking them out. Despite only initially planning on holding an event every other week, my house has filled every weekend with events for the entire semester already (don’t worry, not every house is as ridiculously over-enthusiastic about events as we are).
Or if you prefer less “official” things and want to get to know a house, just visit! I can’t speak for every theme house, but usually what we tell first-years and newcomers is that they don’t have to just show up to events, but are more than welcome to just connect with someone at the house, come for a visit and see who’s doing what. Chances are that at least one person in the house is either really procrastinating their work, or is already finished with their work, and usually would be just fine with having another member to hang out with.
3. You don’t have to live there!
Probably one of the best reasons for theme houses, and what I think gives them a bit of an advantage over some other options, is the flexibility that theme houses give you. A theme house is first and foremost a club, not just a living space, and thus there’s no real requirement for you to live there if you want to be involved with the club. So if you enjoy the theme or you just really want to live somewhere other than the house, then you don’t have to! You can go to the meetings and events and still be involved without any extra commitments, coming and going as you like. The best part is that the house will always still be there as a home to come back to whenever you need it.