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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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S&B Cribs: Drop out of the dorms and into downtown

Marysia Ciupka and Danica Bojovic both ’19 lounge in their apartment, located above Sunrise Bakery and First Impressions. Photo by Liz Paik

Hannah Bentley

When one walks into the apartment of Danica Bojovic and Marysia Ciupka, both ’19, they will walk through the bathroom, the kitchen and into the living space to find a red-splattered painting on the wall. “It’s angry,” Bojovic, explained, “but it doesn’t feel angry … there’s a story behind it.”

Like the painting, many things throughout the apartment seem to have stories behind them — histories. The oldness seeps through the sunburnt-orange walls of the kitchen, the couches owned by many others before, the flower-patterned rocking chair, the walls cracked in just the right places. In the cozy living area just outside of the two bedrooms sit Bojovic, sipping hot tea out of a mug, and Ciupka, lying across a couch. Their laughter is everywhere, bouncing off the walls; their easy friendship, omnipresent throughout the space, is contagious — it could make anyone feel comfortable, at home.

Isolated from campus, the apartment stands atop Sunrise Bakery and the First Impressions beauty salon, rooted directly in Grinnell’s downtown area. “This is the first time we’re downtown, the first time we’re living alone,” Bojovic said. “We can participate in downtown life more.”

“On the flip-side,” Ciupka said, “I feel pretty removed from what is happening on-campus … it’s more difficult to run into people.”

However odd the isolation feels, it has brought the two roommates closer together. “I don’t think we’ve ever spent as much time together,” Bojovic said — a feat, considering that the two have known each other since the very first day of college.

“Since second year we’ve lived together,” Ciupka said.

“It kind of, like, came naturally,” Bojovic said. “We’re best friends who’ve always had very different schedules and friend groups, so for the first time now we’re really seeing each other the most every day.”

“We’re like this weird couple,” Ciupka said.

“We are about as opposite as it gets … she studies Philosophy, I study Biology … we’re like a married couple,” Bojovic said, laughing.

Marysia Ciupka and Danica Bojovic both ’19 lounge in their apartment, located above Sunrise Bakery and First
Photo by Liz Paik

Living off-campus has not only brought the two students closer together — it has also helped them to see the town of Grinnell from a new angle. Ciupka and Bojovic’s downtown location gives them the opportunity to interact with the town more frequently than when they lived in the dorms. “As soon as you move in,” Bojovic said, “you realize it’s something different than what’s on campus.”

Another aspect of living in town is that the roommates have neighbors that they never would have had on-campus.  “Even when I came to see the apartment for the first time,” Bojovic said of one of their neighbors, “she came in to introduce herself — like, every time she sees us she just wants to have, like, a mini-conversation.”

“It’s made me realize that there’s people who live here who have real problems that don’t have to do with, like, getting an essay done,” Ciupka said.

“Or going to a High Street party,” Bojovic interjected.

“For them it’s like their first interactions with students, so it’s a nice opportunity to learn something more about the place where you live,” Ciupka said.

The feeling of the apartment is that of a safe-haven, a home-away-from-home. It is a place in which a person can be herself, a place just far enough away from the constraints of College life that one can feel an extra warmth coming out of the couches, the sunburnt-orange walls, the bedrooms — all filled with the remnants of what people have left behind.


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