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Getting used to living in a college town (again)

To my surprise, living in a college town when you aren’t a college student takes quite the adjustment.

It’s not that Oxford is unfamiliar. I’ve lived everywhere from College Hill to Old Taylor Road, even did a brief stint over on Thacker Heights and one really noisy year living right beside a forever busy Highway 6.

But in all of those moves, I was a student. There was always a feeling that Oxford, no matter how wonderful, was a temporary stop for whatever life waited post-graduation.

So this is my first foray into the life of an Oxonian who looks forward to the Christmas and summer breaks. Those days when you don’t have a two -hour wait at Ajax on a Thursday night and you aren’t trapped in the parking lot that is West Jackson between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when Ole Miss classes are in session.

It’s also a bit difficult to reconcile the Oxford that I know from my undergraduate years to the Oxford of today. Oxford Commons was nothing but heaps of dirt and an empty movie theatre, Galleria II hadn’t even been thought up yet.

I drove down Old Taylor Road last week and didn’t recognize it, bar familiar complexes like The Mark and the hillside of houses that make up Shiloh Place.

For me, it’s a little bittersweet. Oxford isn’t the size of Tuscaloosa or Athens, Georgia but it also isn’t the tiny, sleepy town from when I first arrived in 2007.

The biggest issue with my relocation has been adapting to the odd hours of the students that make up so much of the Oxford population. My neighbor, an Ole Miss undergrad, loves to play music with pounding drums and a driving bass line beginning about 11 p.m. three or four nights a week.  On those nights where she isn’t playing music, she’s definitely awake until the wee hours. I know because I can hear her.

Apartment walls are thin, ambient noise is unavoidable and just a reality you must deal with by living in one, but the steady thump of a stereo or the wobble of the stackable laundry that’s enclosed in a closet in each unit’s bedroom are more than my reality: they’re a full-blown challenge, especially when it interferes with being able to get a sound night’s sleep.

But it’s the reality of life in a college town. Your neighbors are almost always going to be students, and some of them are going play loud music and do laundry at inopportune hours, or invite 20 friends to their apartment. Those friends, who will also likely be students, will park erratically in the parking lot, be exuberantly loud and just a bit rowdy and leave a good bit of litter once they’re gone.

I don’t think you choose to live in a college town if you want the quiet, peaceful life. You definitely don’t choose to rent in one if that’s the goal.

So that leaves rolling with the punches, trying to have a sense of humor and remembering that not so long ago I was one of those kids that kept the neighbors awake with music – given that I studied classical and musical theatre, most the choices coming from my stereo probably weren’t to the taste of most of them.

Then again, I wouldn’t say no to a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep.

Maybe I’ll get it during the Christmas break.

Donica Phifer is the Managing Editor of The Oxford Eagle. You can email her at donica.phifer@oxfordeagle.com.