Written by Kimberly Webber, Resident Programming Assistant (RPA) in Todd/Phibbs
DISCLAIMER: I had a fantastic freshman year and to this day, my best friends are those who lived on my residence hall floor, or on the floor above mine. That being said, here goes my story of an atypical first week at Puget Sound.
My randomly assigned roommate decided to take a family vacation to Australia at the end of summer, only to return 2 days before the first day of classes. I knew that while everyone else was clinging to their roommate for meals and orientation activities while they got acquainted with the campus and introduced to more freshmen, I would have to take an extra initiative to meet some people whit whom I could survive Orientation. But I definitely did not let this get me down on move-in day.
I had been talking to a Junior-class RA prior to coming to campus after she emailed me to see if I had any questions. I told her where I would be living and she spoke so highly of my RA’s, told me I had a great view overlooking North Quad and that my room was on the end of the hall closest to the girls bathroom, by the stairs—closest to the SUB—and that nearly all the rooms in A/L were huge—so overall, I was ecstatic. I could not wait for my freshman year and Orientation, even if that meant going through it without a roommate.
August 17th, I showed up, signed some forms, got my key, and was shown to my room by my RA. Top of the stairs to the left. One of two rooms on the left…and judging by the lack of name tags on the door across from mine… this moment began my week-long physical isolation from the rest of the HUGE floor of A/L 3. I was the only resident to the left of the main stairway, to the right of which lived all of my hall mates.
I tried not to let this news fade my excitement… but it was tough. I got all my stuff up to my room, and as my brother did a Target run and my mom helped me unpack, the door propped open by a microwave, feeling sorry for myself was all I could do and—despite her restraint to communicate it as many times as I did—all my mom could do too.
I had so been looking forward to being a freshman, to being a Logger, and to making so many new friends. I walked down the hall a few times that day pretending I needed to use the restroom or fill up my water bottle, just hoping someone would have their door propped open like mine was, waiting for a friendly face to pop in. Only 3 of the 30-ish doors were open… boys and parents and people making themselves busy… I lost my courage and apparently my lifelong sociable attitude went with it. And again, I found myself feeling sorry for my situation… and blamed it on just that—my situation.
It took my older-by-3-years brother to make me realize that all I had to do was to CHANGE my situation. Of course, I didn’t come to this realization lightly or until it paid off. I went to meet the cross-country coach and on the way back from the Fieldhouse to A/L, my brother asked if he could take a look at my room key and I obliged. Then he went to Wal-Mart… with my key, telling me to “go make friends”! Meanwhile my mom was headed to an information session about Library Resources.
I headed to North Quad, up the stairs to the third floor and instead of turning left this time… I turned right. I was hoping desperately that since it was later in the day, students would have begun to settle in, maybe have a door stop in place to catch some visitors. Maybe up to 6 doors were opened now. But still the sheer amount of people in each room, between 2 roommates, their parents and siblings, was overwhelming for just me. 2 laps of the floor and back to the far end of the building before I came to a HUGE triple room, with one occupant who just so happened to have the same bed spread as me from the linens catalogue we were mailed during the summer. Easy enough topic to strike up a conversation about, right? Well it was! I then proceeded to tell my new (FIRST!) friend of college, Calli, how my brother took my key so I could put myself out there and make friends. Calli’s parents had already gone home and she loved what I was doing and wanted to come along to meet people. Just down the hall we met Kailee (with her parents, but that didn’t stop us… I guess there’s strength in numbers.) And after being struck again by my initial timidity in approaching the other people on my hall, the 3 of us decided it would be best to start downstairs on the 2nd floor. So we went from room to room, meeting students and parents as “Calli, Kailee, and Kimberly”—confusing a few people for the next couple of weeks, let me tell you!—and from then on, I was the social one. I was the girl who was friendly to all and who put herself out there. This is a role I had always taken on before and was ready to embrace as a new freshman, but was so caught up on my negative situation that I was willing to risk not exuding a great first impression around people I would spend the next 4 years with!
So take it from me; even if your expectations for your year start low…very low, and things seem to be off to a bumpy start, IT GETS BETTER! You don’t need a blunt older brother, a large hall, a outward enthusiasm or a matching bed spread. You just need to take the situation for what it is: an opportunity, not a sentence. And if you’re worried about it, talk to your RA–we’re here to help!