Diary of a Fashion School Student: Housing and Having a Dog at College

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Editor’s Note: This is part three of Caitlyn’s ongoing series about her day-to-day experiences attending fashion school at FIDM in Los Angeles. The purpose of this series is shed some light on what fashion school is REALLY like – it’s a lot different from what you see on The Hills!

In case you missed the first parts in this series, get caught up by reading Diary of a Fashion School Student: Introduction, and Diary of a Fashion School Student: Majors and Schoolwork.

FIDM Housing


My student housing experience.

It took me ten weeks. Ten weeks to get out of student housing, find a roommate, and sign the lease on my new apartment.

Thankfully, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising operates on the quarter system. This means that instead of having semesters, we have classes for ten weeks with three week breaks in between. Students can begin school at whichever quarter they choose. Therefore, I wasn't stuck in a student apartment until December.

It wasn't that student housing was bad. In fact, it was quite the opposite. FIDM does not have the usual dormitories that most colleges have; instead they own sets of apartments in three buildings across the city. Two of the buildings are downtown and the other is in West Hollywood. I was living at one of the apartments FIDM owns near campus.

The setting was perfect - I didn't have to commute and could leave my apartment eight minutes before class started and be there with time to spare. The apartment complex had a pool, a hot tub, huge closets (a necessity for us fashion students), balconies and palm trees. First year college students aren't supposed to live THAT luxuriously, right?!

FIDM Housing 1


View from my student apartment (left), then glimpses inside my new place (middle and right).

But despite how gorgeous the student apartments were, student housing quickly began to get old for me. One of the issues was that the apartments were two bedroom/two bathroom, with four students to an apartment. I was living with girls that I didn't know, and despite our bonding time over the first quarter, by the second, we were all ready for a change of setting. Also, money was a motivator: I knew that I could find a place without dorm-room like rules for hundreds of dollars less.

So I decided to go for it: I went out, found my own apartment and roommate, and moved out of student housing. And I immediately knew it was the right choice - there was something so adult about signing my first lease and having a place to call my home.

But there was another big reason I was so relieved to have my own place. Sure, it was tough moving to LA and adapting to a new city, but the most difficult part about the big move was not having my dog. Leaving Sam, my Shih Tzu and best friend of nearly ten years, was honestly toughest thing I've everhad to do. Now it's time for you to say, "awwww.." because that's the number one reason why I left student housing. I had to have my best friend back.

Sam livin' the LA life


Sam living the Los Angeles life and hanging out on Melrose (right).

It took a 27-hour driving trip spread over two days to get my boy, but now he's here with me in LA and I couldn't be happier! My days are filled with dog parks, hiking adventures and rushing home between class to take him outside. I would not recommend that every college student have a dog, but it worked out well for me since I can take him to work and live very close to school.

Don't get me wrong: Having a dog is a huge amount of responsibility. I live in an apartment so I need to take him out four to five times a day for long walks so he isn't cooped up, and he needs tons of attention, so there are often times when I have to cut my activities short or just say no to going out because Sam has been alone for too long.

Thankfully, Los Angeles is a verydog-friendly town. Due to the generally gorgeous weather year-round, most cafes and restaurants have outdoor seating where pets are allowed. Our malls and lifestyle centers are mostly open-air, so Sam always gets to go shopping (he gets so much love from customers at Anthropologie) and tons of stores are incredibly lax about dogs. (Who knew you could have dogs in Target or Best Buy?) There are also plenty of dog parks and hiking trails, which make Sam and I very happy campers.

What I've Learned:

Before we go, here are some things I learned through my student housing experience:

Two gallons of paint in relaxing colors (blue and golden-yellow) are the best investment a stressed-out college student can make, your closest friends don't always make the best roommates, a Brita water pitcher is a necessity, some Targets allow dogs in them (I now know which ones!), buying fresh flowers makes your apartment so much more inviting, having a printer makes life much easier, these laundry tips come in incredibly handy, and cable TV is not vital - Netflix is.

What do you think about my student housing experience?

Can you relate to my student housing situation?  Would you ever have a dog at college? What did you learn from living in a dorm or student apartment? Do you have any other questions for me? Let me know with a comment!