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The other “off-off-off-campus” house in Utah

Taking advantage of their enviable location, the friends often spend their free time hiking and exploring the surrounding area. Top row: Sean Hopkins, Xander Wurtz, Dante Smith and Cate Roberts. Bottom row: Chris Zhang, Enya Gamble and Hallie Nuzum, all ’22. Photo contributed by Sophie Wojdylo.

The New York Times released an article about college students living “off-off-off” campus in the time of coronavirus, and one of the houses featured was a group of Grinnellians in Utah. Unique as that might sound, the profiled house is not such an exceptional case. We contacted the other Grinnell off-off-off campus house in Park City, Utah to learn how they are doing.

Sophie Wojdylo ’22 is one of the students living with seven other third-year swimmers in Park City, taking advantage of the location to go hiking and camping. It made sense for Wojdylo to live with the other members of the swim and dive team. “We’ve all been pretty good friends since the beginning of college, it felt natural to do it off campus together.”

Wojdylo was surprised when the New York Times article came out. “What are the odds of having another house in Utah?” she said. “I love that other groups of students are going out and creating their own little scurries and their own academic environments.”

Cate Roberts ’22 is part of the same house. “I think it’s really cool that people are taking advantage of the weird time we’re having right now to have a different sort of school experience.”

Both have been enjoying the ability to live with their friends, even though it is off-campus. “We have group dinners each night and sit down and eat at the table,” Roberts said. Each night a different person makes food. They also go hiking and camping as a group during weekends. Their next trip is going to be to Yellowstone National Park.

Wojdylo and her housemates (from left to right; Enya Gamble, Cate Roberts, Dante Smith, Sean Hopkins, Hallie Nuzum, Sophie Wojdylo and Chris Zhang all ’22) look forward to their upcoming trip to Yellowstone National Park. Photo Contributed by Sophie Wojdylo.

Wojdylo really enjoys living off-off-off campus. “I definitely wouldn’t feel as connected on campus just because I wouldn’t be spending every hour with our group like I do here. It’s really nice, I feel like it’s brought our group closer together.”

On-campus the group would spend practices and dinners together. Now, other than study times, the group is working out with and hanging around each other the entire day.

Roberts prefers it over living at home. “My parents were starting to drive me a little crazy,” she said. Living with her friends has served as motivation to stay healthy and work out, in addition to being able to go hiking. During dinner the group checks in with each other and asks about the highs and lows of everyone’s day.

Roberts said she feels like it’s a pseudo study abroad. They are able to live in a different place with different experiences, but instead of a different country, the group can experience a different state.

“A lot of the third-year class planned to go abroad. It’s cool that people are taking advantage of whatever they can to make it sort of normal,” Roberts said. She was supposed to study in Australia this year but canceled that plan early in the summer. Wojdylo says she doesn’t know what will happen when people return to campus. She has felt connected with the current group that she lives with but has a hard time interacting with the first years. Wojdylo said she thinks that going back to Grinnell for her senior year will be strange. There will be a new group of first and second years that she’s never met or had the ability to interact with.

The group will be moving out of the house around Thanksgiving. Some of the students have other pods that they plan to live with during the spring terms, but at this point, everything is up in the air. “It’s so tough cause everything is so last minute,” said Wojdylo. “I should have planned for this, but I don’t know what’s going on.”

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