First-year roommates Peyton Walker, Sophie Kairis and Josie Snarr pose for a photo at their apartment Feb. 17. Since August, they have lived together in off-campus housing near Pepperdine. Photo Courtesy of Josie Snarr
Though Pepperdine’s on-campus housing remains largely closed for over a year, some first-year students sought off-campus housing in the Malibu area. These new Waves spent the better part of their first year trying to forge a community in the Malibu area without access to campus.
Josie Snarr, a first-year student from Newport Beach, Calif., said she wanted to move to Malibu to meet other students, live away from home and experience the natural beauty of the area.
“I wanted to be able to get out on my own and kind of experience real college life away from my parents – even though I love them – just to kind of get that adult experience, ” Snarr said.
Since August, Snarr has lived in Malibu with fellow first-years Peyton Walker and Sophie Kairis, who she met through social media.
“I found them all through Instagram!” Snarr said. “I didn’t even have a set roommate for Pepperdine before fall, and I just saw some girls posting about wanting to move to Malibu.”
Because she lived closest to Malibu, Snarr said she offered to tour potential housing. Snarr said the process was rushed, but, with the help of her parents, she and her roommates were fortunate to find a short-term lease they could afford.
“It was a challenge, because a lot of off-campus places want you to sign a one year lease, and it’s just really hard to find a place that’s more affordable in Malibu,” Snarr said.
Creating a Community
Despite the continuation of remote instruction, Snarr said she has been able to connect with other students in the area.
“We met through our classes and then I heard that they were in Malibu, so we messaged on Instagram and we’ve been able to meet in person,” Snarr said.
One of those friends is Nayeli Castillo, a first-year student from Chicago. Castillo and her roommates met through a mutual friend. Castillo’s roommate group remained in touch throughout the fall and winter, and made plans to live together when the University announced it would continue remote instruction in the spring. Castillo said having spent a semester of online classes at home, she appreciated the change of pace and scenery. Especially after another Chicago winter, Castillo said Malibu’s beaches and sunsets were refreshing.
“I’m not a fan of the winters, so I’ve been trying to get out of Illinois for a long time,” Castillo said. “I really just took a leap of faith, but I was determined to move out. It’s crazy because this is my first time ever in California, and I just moved out here!”
In Malibu, Castillo said she has found the friends she made to be welcoming and intentional about fostering meaningful relationships.
“I think people are just really going out of their way to make connections through social media and stuff to like meet up at the beach randomly or things like that,” Castillo said. “So even though we’re not on campus people are still trying to meet new people.”
Adapting to Independence
Living away from home forced Castillo to become more aware of the responsibilities of adulthood. Dealing with the duties of maintaining an apartment in addition to the daily rigors of classwork provided a beneficial sense of independence.
Though she is only an hour and a half from her home, Snarr said living away from her parents allowed her to develop similar skills as an independent adult. Like Castillo, she said handling a lease, cooking and cleaning helped prevent melancholy and discouragement.
“Of course I miss my parents and I miss home, but I think it was the right decision to come here because I’ve definitely grown as a person on my own,” Snarr said. “It’s nice to be able to know that I can do things for myself and solve problems for myself.
Snarr said she and her roommates are optimistic about the emerging possibilities for cultivating community among Pepperdine students. They plan to take advantage of the limited campus reopening by booking a reservation at Payson Library and participating if any of their classes reconvene at limited capacity later in the semester.
As they ponder the opportunities on the horizon, Snarr and Castillo both said they are deeply grateful for their opportunity to live near Pepperdine this year and the confidence it has given them.
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Contact Reagan Phillips via Twitter: @reagphil or by email firstname.lastname@example.org