When arriving at a typical student residence, one can expect to find trashcans filled with fast food paraphernalia, a hodge-podge of hand-me-downs and Christmas lights that serve as “décor”, and perhaps an unidentified houseguest asleep on the couch (clearly exhausted from studying, what else?).
You’re also likely to come across a surplus of plastic red cups, which will be generously used and reused until they’re so sticky that liquid no longer pours out.
Of course, all of this will be cleansed or hastily stuffed into a closet upon infrequent parent visitations. After all, we are young professionals pursuing an ambitious future for ourselves here.
While this lifestyle appealed to some of my peers, I was quietly plotting my escape and searching for more refined student living … if there was such a thing. I understood that these elements were inevitably packaged with the college social experience, but I was still hoping to position myself in an environment closer to my city’s core and more conducive to my personal and academic growth. In simpler terms, I guess you could say that I wanted to upgrade from “Jersey Shore” to “Sex and the City”- college style.
After exhausting all suburban options near UTSA’s main campus, I started to look at downtown lofts and apartments around North St Mary’s. As a gay college student, I had long admired that neighborhood for being particularly diverse, progressive and welcoming of the LGBT community. Furthermore, there was a lot of draw in its contemporary nature, fast pace and rapid development.
By the grace of divine intervention, Tobin Lofts at San Antonio College was coincidentally in its final stages of development and had started leasing their upscale apartments to hopeful college students like myself. It was fate and there was not a plastic red cup in sight.
So the leasing office’s job was made easy that day, as I had already begun to romantically envision myself spending hours at the resort style pool before they even had the chance to make a sales pitch.
Since settling in, I’ve quickly discovered that I don’t have to travel far before finding something fun to do. Being across the street from hotspots such as the historic Luther’s Cafe and Heat nightclub certainly helps, but the modern amenities at Tobin Lofts are what bring it home … literally.
The business center is my go-to place for study breaks, while the game room is strategically close by for when I need actual study breaks. Not to mention, the all-inclusive fitness gym is a blessing after succumbing to fried temptations at Luther’s, which happens more often than I’d like to admit.
Tobin Lofts also has a Residence Life Program that plans student activities and socials for tenants. This has been particularly helpful in acquainting me with my neighbors, who hail from 13 local colleges and are all aspiring professionals as fierce as the posh apartments they inhabit.
Out of all the modern features of this fully furnished development, including the high-speed wireless Internet and flat screen televisions (which are very much appreciated), I’m oddly most thankful for the location.
I was hesitant about moving downtown for two reasons: the commute to the UTSA main campus and the dreaded parking wars. Neither has been a problem and close proximity to numerous dining and social options eliminates travel fatigue. Lulu’s Bakery and Café, the Little Taco Factory and French Corner Café are just minutes down the street, with the Saint and Sparky’s nightclubs providing nice little stops in between.
Also, for evenings when I’m feeling particularly prim and sassy, the popular Pearl District is a five-minute drive away. And with every block a different experience, the nearby St. Mary’s strip has a chameleon aspect that exercises its diversity to the fullest.
The commute to UTSA and other local colleges is pain free, but my friends that attend San Antonio College rarely see the inside of a car. Tobin Lofts is located on SAC’s campus, increasing the odds of punctuality to those loathsome early morning classes.
From its prime location to progressive embrace, the Tobin Lofts community has more than enhanced my college experience by placing me at the center of a thriving, urban San Antonio. It’s inspiring to literally see the area around me develop day by day, which has coincided with my own personal growth and achievements.
Granted, Tobin Lofts is designed for student living, so the infamous college customs (see first paragraph) do make an appearance from time to time. However, it’s a fair trade for everything I receive in exchange, so cheers to that … with a plastic red cup.
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Sean Gollahon is a student at UTSA. Follow him on Twitter at @PeterPretty.