A graduating senior finds her space at home for her final quarter.
When UC San Diego announced that spring quarter coursework will be completely online, it was a blessing in disguise—at least for me. I was unable to pay my rent, which kept mounting as each month went by. Online school meant I could go home to my parent’s apartment in Claremont, California, and not have to worry about paying thousands every month.
This worry began to affect me every day during the school year. It was sometimes all I could think about, so I’d find ways to distract myself. As much as I treasured my own room on campus, it always felt like I could never truly relax in it without anxiety creeping in through the door, crawling across the walls and landing on the desk, reminding me that I might have to leave tomorrow. I didn’t want to leave.
But COVID-19 made sure that happened, and at that point, I wasn’t too upset about it. The anxiety wouldn’t follow me around anymore, and I’d get to go home to my family and fluffy dog. Yet there was a catch: I don’t have my own room in my parent’s apartment.
They rented the apartment when I left for UC San Diego in 2018, getting a room for themselves and one for my younger brother. Whenever I came home, I either slept on the couch or in my parent’s room. I’m sure this is the case for a lot of other students as well, some have an even more crowded and congested living situation than mine.
I don’t mind it so much, but I do miss having my own room on campus. I miss the tree outside my third-floor window, always blowing in the wind and providing me with a cover from onlookers down below. I miss the sea breeze wafting in through my window, clearing up my perpetually stuffy nose. I miss the bed that was perfectly sized for me.
When I came home, I did my work at the kitchen table. My dog often hovered around me, begging for me to drop a piece of food, unable to realize that I had a pen in my hand instead. As the weeks went by, my parents got me a fantastic desk with a hutch that I immediately made mine. The shelves are stocked with books, knickknacks, my many calendars, the vases I’ve found at Goodwill, candles I can’t use, and a stuffed animal with a UC San Diego bandana my boyfriend bought me at the bookstore. They set it up in their room, giving me my space, as much as they could in a small apartment.
Everyone in my family is used to seeing each other all the time. I grew up with my parents working from home, where they launched small businesses since I was a toddler. I can remember helping them make buttons for an eBay button business, or watching my dad create websites for local companies. I’ve watched them hustle every day since I can remember, so this situation is on par for the course.
While having La Jolla rent off my back, I wonder about the day I’ll return to campus. Will it be for my final quarter? Will I be able to walk in graduation at some point, or just receive my diploma in the mail? Or will it be years from now, when I return as an alumna to remember what it was like to hurry along Library Walk?
Virginia Woolf once said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” While she was right about that, there are writers who don’t have either of those, but they still have assignments to complete. As a Literature/Writing student, I am assigned hundreds of pages to read every week, along with discussion posts. Rather than having Woolf’s old adage in mind, I think about novelist’s Sandra Newman’s instead: “Write until you make room for yourself.” Sitting at my desk every day, surrounded by books, stationery, moving boxes, and suitcases, I work on what needs to get done, making room for myself in my corner of a room.
Savannah Munoz ’20 is a student writer for UC San Diego’s Triton magazine. She is graduating in June with a degree in literature/writing from Muir College. She hopes to continue pursuing a career in writing. She currently resides in Claremont, Calif.