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?!

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 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!

17 thoughts on “Diary of a Fashion School Student: Housing and Having a Dog at College”

  1. Hello Caitlyn I was wondering what apartment did you move in that was much cheaper and the closet distance? And thank you soooooo much this was very helpful.

  2. Hey Caitlyn,

    I am a Radio and Television broadcast major down here in Miami but I want to move to L.A. to get my start in my career. There are so many cities in L.A., that I have no idea which one would be safe for me to move to and still be affordable. I am also extremely confused as to which what schools specialize in my major. Do you think you can help me with any of these two things??

    Thank you!

  3. First off, I have to say that I adore all of these comments! Thank you all for reading and giving Sam so much virtual love.

    Amie, I have to agree with you that it’s so important to live off-campus before settling down. I only lasted ten weeks! I needed my own place and a place to live without strict rules and to have Sam.

    Yuki, dogs make your life so much happier and fun. I do not think you’re a sap for thinking about it! And I’m sure you’ll be busy with your school, but if I can do it and take Sam out all the time (and I have full-time school, work, and 3 internships) then you can do it too!

    Hannah, that’s a great tip! I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. That’s DEFINITELY something everyone should keep in mind when apartment hunting with dogs.

    To everyone else, thanks so much for the comments!

  4. When I first moved from home to attend college in Orlando, FL I had to leave behind my beloved husky-mix, Summer, that I adopted the year prior. It was the most difficult thing I had to do, but because it was (and is STILL!) so hard to find housing for any pup over 15lbs, and my to-be roommate was bringing along her pup from Seattle, I really had no choice. Living with someone else’s untrained animal was a nightmare!! Luckily, home was only 2 hours away so I at least was able to see Summer on weekends when I could take the trip. Eventually, I too got my happy little doggy back and I have never left her since! I’ve vowed that even if I were homeless on the street she would still be by my side no matter what. Gotta’ love our best friends! ;D

  5. Hi I love your site and everything you publish. This is also the reason why I would like to ask you all a question: What exactly does Blair Waldorf study at Columbia? And how is her job at “w” called? I know it does not relate to the article but I’m quite desperate looking for the answers. Thank you 🙂

  6. I can totally relate to this! I went to the Art Institute in Santa Monica & lived in an apartment that allowed dogs, so my boyfriend (at the time) and I got one as soon as we moved in. Yes, it was hard work, stressful, and everybody thought I was CRAZY for getting a dog while living in an apartment in LA, but it was completely worth it. Most people would not be willing to dedicate that much time to a pet during college, so they assume you must not take very good care of it just because they wouldn’t. Psh. Us real pet lovers know what it takes. 🙂

    My main advice about pets in college is to be wary of shady landlords. I didn’t get it in writing from my landlord that I was allowed to have a pet, and even though my place was in perfect condition when I left, she flat out stole my deposit with no explanation (not even the legally required itemization of deductions!) Then, she threatened to countersue me for having an unauthorized pet (even though it actually was authorized, just not in writing) if I tried to sue her for my deposit. Insane!

  7. I’m so glad that you were able to have your dog with you in your new apartment. You should show more of your decorating in your next post. I was thinking about getting a dog myself since I was in my second year as an undergrad. Now, four years later, I’m making plans on returnign to school for my bachelors starting in the fall and I really want to adopt a nice and (older ^__^) small dog. Luckily, the drive from my home to where I’ll be going to school is only nine hours so its do-able. Your post has really made me feel like I’m not just being a sap for thinking about it. Thanks!

  8. loved to hear about your experience on moving to a real housing apartment and also on having a dog when in college. I was thinking about having a dog myselft but i realized that my new puppy would rapidly become depressed. You’re really lucky!

  9. I was wondering what you guys do with your pets when you travel home if you live a far ways away. I’m planning on moving to San Diego with my dog and it would be about a 21 hour trip back home. Have you ever boarded them or do you just drive?

  10. Argh! I wish Athens was the same way. I missed having my dog around too, so I actually paid up to keep my dog at my place after moving into an apartment beginning in sophomore year. (And guess what? She’s a Shih Tzu too!) And I agree, it is a lot of responsibility. We live on the third floor and need to take her out to the bathroom often, and she’s getting old too. But at least LA is pet friendly! She’s back at home now because I’ve been on a full schedule, but honestly, if you have the time and dedication and ability, living with your dog is pretty great. They greet you like they haven’t seen you in YEARS when you have your bad days. Plus, my roommates feel the same way!

  11. I had my dog at school for my last year. A big responsibility, but if you’re a pet person you already know it’s worth it. Plus, having to go home and walk the dog is a great excuse to ditch lame parties and bad dates 😉

  12. Glad you got your dog back 🙂 I don’t know what I’m gonna do when I’m finally on my own. My baby is a pit bull and people just dislike him on pricipal, yet I’ve never seen a bigger baby in my life. I’ll end up hving to buy a house or rent in a bad neighborhood 🙁

  13. I totally feel you on the Netflix thing at the very bottom! I don’t even own a tv, but I don’t know how I’d get by without my computer, internet, and Netflix. And owning a printer DOES make life hella easier. I finally just replaced the ink cartridges on one I saved from the garbage (did you know printers can survive being left out in the rain?!), and I feel so free, ha ha.


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