Did you go to college? Did you live in a dormitory at any time during your college life?
I attended three different colleges for my three degrees. But, I only lived on campus during my first degree, an undergraduate degree in nursing or BSN. There is much to be gained by living on campus when you go to college. In most cases, you are thrust together with people you have never met. These people are your roommates, with whom you spend a great amount of time. It is almost like a marriage without the “extra benefits” and pre-requisite amount of dates and time that precedes the joining.
In my own case, my first roommate was a girl from a small town in the middle of New York State or Central New York. This is the area around Syracuse, if you are unfamiliar with the state. New York is a large state. However, many people automatically assume you live somewhere near New York City and visit the Big Apple often. This is an erroneous assumption! And, Buffalo is over 400 miles away from those five famous boroughs. I never visited “The City” until I was a middle-aged adult with my own son in 12th grade! My roommate and I got along well enough to live together a second year, our sophomore year. She started as pre-med and quickly changed to biology. I stayed in my major. Our classes did not converge at all, which was probably a blessing. We were both serious students that did not have much of a social life. However, I do remember once going to a frat party I was invited to (by a boy) and being admonished by my roommate because I had a boyfriend who was in the Air Force at the time, stationed in Japan. I am an honest person and can tell you going to a party with a friend did not cross any relationship lines – but she made me feel like I did.
The first time I talked to my future husband, a student from the Buffalo area living in the same dorm freshman year, was when I went upstairs to “yell” at him and his friend who were hitting golf balls down the hallway. Everything was cinder block and tile back then, and the noise was deafening. His first words to me were a sarcastic, “Why don’t you gain some weight?” It ticked me off – but I was wearing my sister’s old tennis sweatpants which were two sizes too big for my 95 pound frame. He was right to tell me; I needed to gain some weight. (And, 37 years later, I have!) But, it was his sarcastic, knee-jerk reaction to us telling him we didn’t like what he was doing!
Living in a dorm introduces you to the fact that people are not the same. Yes, we are all humans, and our diversity needs respect, but we all have different experiences that shape and mold us into who we are today, and who we become tomorrow. I was mostly an observer, a trait my boys have all seemed to inherit, hanging back until I decided I wanted to become friends with someone or not bother. Yes, there were people I did not bother with getting to know. I was, and still am, an introvert and retreat into myself when I am not sure about who or what surrounds me. But, the simple observation is an education unto itself.
My son who is a college freshman this year is finding this out. He and his roommate seem to be getting along, although by November when it was already time to make living arrangements for next year (too early, in my opinion), they knew they were not going to live together again next year. My son seems fine with this decision. There have been some dorm antics, but much like my own experience, they seem to involve him only after damage has been done, which is fine by me!
When he returned after the holiday break, a loud sound of breaking glass woke him in the middle of the night, to which he opened his dorm room door to the hallway. The laundry room glass panel, which is adjacent to his room, was shattered. The glass appeared to have been kicked in and was scattered everywhere. My son’s response? Grab a broom and sweep it up with the help of a girl who lived down the hall.
Then, last week, there was the fire alarm at 4 a.m.. This university is in Fargo, ND. It is winter and it is cold – typically single digits or subzero. And, so on a subzero night he was ousted out of bed to stand in the dark with his dorm mates while the fire chief cleared the building. After ten minutes in the cold and ten minutes in the dining hall where they were sent to keep warm while the fire department determined it was a faulty alarm involving the heating system, he was able to return to bed only not to sleep well.
I can relate!
I am sure there are more stories that we will eventually hear, but living in a dorm is all part of figuring out who you are and who you want to be around. Thrust into living with strangers in a strange town, is part of what college is all about.