The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 28th

Living Alone Pits Privacy vs. Companionship

After a day filled with stressful classes, cumbersome commitments and constant socialization, many students can find privacy elusive, even in their own residences. Certainly most students can identify with the need for personal space and privacy.

But for students who live by themselves, there are no roommate conflicts -- no arguments over sleep schedules, fights about cleanliness or disputes over unwanted guests.

Sophomore Tamara Whyte has lived in a single-bedroom apartment in Northampton Plaza Apartments since this past summer.

Drinking a cup of vanilla cream coffee, Whyte said her main reason for moving off campus and living alone was a negative "potluck" experience her freshman year.

But now after living on her own, Whyte says her UNC experience is much more fulfilling. Citing improved grades and more sleep, Whyte explained how much more she enjoys living on her own.

Pointing to her magnet-covered refrigerator, Whyte said she especially loves having a full-sized kitchen, where she can bake food from scratch. "This is a home," she said. "It's not just a place to throw yourself down and sleep."

Acknowledging the three locks on her door, Whyte says living alone off campus can feel unsafe and lonely. "The silence does get to me," she said. "I tend to keep the TV on most of the time at night."

But Whyte said she has compensated by purchasing Thoreau, her pet turtle, and inviting friends. "I can do things like decorate for Christmas and entertain and have parties whenever I want to," she said.

But not all UNC students who live alone do so out of choice.

Melissa Couchon, a sophomore occupant of Teague Residence Hall, also lives alone because her former roommate is studying abroad. Sitting on the second bed that has become a makeshift couch, Couchon said she is among many students who live alone because the school never reassigns them roommates.

Couchon says that although she will probably not live alone again, there are tremendous advantages. "You don't have to be considerate of someone else's life," she said.

Like Whyte, Couchon said she has enjoyed the freedom in her sleep schedule the most. "I like having a roommate for every reason except for the whole sleep schedule thing," she said. "I think college students underrate the value of sleep."

But Couchon said her life has not changed very much since she's had her own room this semester. "Having your own room does not equate with loneliness," she said. "All you have to do is open your door, and you're surrounded by people. It doesn't make that big of a difference in your life."

Couchon said she looks forward to living alone this semester but recognizes that it will be easier to be a recluse.

"It'll be a good learning and growing experience," Couchon said. "But I need to make sure that I don't allow myself to become hermetic. You have to push yourself a little bit more when you live by yourself to go out and see people."

For students considering living alone, the decision depends on what they value more. A good roommate can offer companionship, but the solitary route offers independence and sought-after privacy.

For Whyte, her decision to live alone is resolute.

"For me, the good outweighs the bad."

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