Our wing is like family

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They’re goofy, fun-loving, sometimes loud, and always supportive. They’re my wing mates and friends. We call the south wing of the third floor in Fern Smith Hall, also known as Fern 3S, home for nine months out of the year. Not only do we share a living space with each other, but we share our lives and college experiences. There are 17 ladies on the wing, and we’ve gotten to know each other by making memories together. Sometimes we simply sit by each other on someone’s futon and do homework in silence. On the weekends, we put aside our homework and have movie nights. Every Tuesday night at 5:45, we have wing dinner at The Hub where we laugh and talk about everyone’s day. Sometimes there are random dance parties in someone’s room and it usually spills out into the hallway. We sit by each other in Christ Chapel every Tuesday and Friday to worship God and listen to his Word together. We recreate our favorite Vine videos with each other. Our doors are kept open most of the time to invite each other to come in and hang out.

Our resident assistant, Liesbeth, also plans wing events for us about once a month. We went to Blue Bunny in Le Mars to get ice cream one Sunday afternoon. Liesbeth planned a spa night where we painted our nails and put face masks on to take some time and relax. We recently visited Pumpkinland to conquer the corn maze with our brother wing from Colenbrander Hall. To celebrate Thanksgiving, we’re going to have a potluck style Thanksgiving dinner together. We’re there for each other if someone needs a listening ear or someone to eat lunch with. We go to various campus events and activities to support each other’s interests and talents.

Our wing really is like a family and Fern 3S is our home away from home.

You'll be calling it home

Making new friends is hard; I get it. Especially if you’re somewhat introverted or reserved like me. Coming from high school, where I had solid friendships, it was a new reality to walk onto a campus where I only knew a handful of people.

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I was able to use my three years of college friend-making experience to offer some advice to my younger sister who is a college freshman. Like most freshmen, she was curious as to what college friendships would look like and how to grow authentic relationships while navigating a whole new world.

There was so much advice I wanted to offer her, and I was struggling to fit six semesters worth of social knowledge into one text message. This is what I had learned so far:

1.      Patience. Lifelong friendships aren’t built in a day, or even a month. Give it time and trust that it’s a continual process. I didn’t meet some of my great friends during the first few months of college. You will continue to meet new people with each new class, activity or connection you make. I enjoy continuing to make friends each golf season, intramural team and group project I have.

2.      I once heard someone make it their goal for the first semester of college to be willing to hang out with lots of people. I wish I would’ve heard this as an incoming freshman, because even though it would’ve taken me out of my comfort zone, who knows what friendships could’ve formed!

3.      Remember that (most) everyone is in the same position as you. Don’t be afraid to sit by someone new at lunch or to invite someone to coffee, because chances are, they are hoping to make new friendships too!

I hope that this is helpful in calming some of those nerves that come along with a new chapter in life. But Northwestern is home to so many wonderful people that are eager to welcome you to campus, and before long, you’ll be calling it home.

Dinosaurs and root beer floats

Here in Stegenga Hall (or Steggy, as students affectionately refer to it), we have a yearly tradition called “Steggy Keggy,” a dorm decorating event that includes root beer floats. Each dorm has an all campus event every year, and this is ours.

So what exactly is Steggy Keggy? Each year, the dorm chooses decorating theme that is kept secret until the visitors (students from other dorms) walk in the doors at 8 p.m. Each wing has a sub-theme and decorates accordingly. Last year, the theme was movies, and my wing was musicals. (We decorated the wing like a red carpet event.) Visitors walk through the halls to see the decorations, and after they’ve visited all six wings, they’re invited back to the Steggy lobby to vote on their favorite wing and enjoy a root beer float!

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Four days before the event this year, the residents of Steggy got the much-anticipated email from our resident director, Celeste. The subject line read “THE TIME HAS COME.” This year’s theme was Steggy Zoo, and my wing was assigned mythical/extinct animals. We settled on a “Jurassic Park themed wing and named it “Prehistoric Park.”

 Over half of the women on my wing were involved, and many hours were spent hanging streamers, writing scripts, planning skits and setting up. I helped decorate. We set up a “lab” with a scientist attempting to hatch dinosaur eggs; a mythological creatures room; a “park” where visitors watched a dinosaur feeding; and “jungle” that included full-grown “dinosaurs.”

 The whole event was a great way to cap off a Monday: spending time with some great people, and enjoying the hard work and creativity of the women of Stegenga Hall.

Why you’ll never want college to end

Coming to a college knowing absolutely no one is terrifying. Fears and questions start racing through your head, never giving you a chance to think “maybe it won’t be that bad.” If this is your mind, then take it from me: coming in knowing zero people might just be the greatest thing to happen in your life and here’s why:

One of the best things I’ve encountered during my time at Northwestern has been the people. There are those who just walk by and smile, or others who call you by name, just so you can walk to class together. But then there are those who make you never want to leave college–the ones you consider your best friends.

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When people say “college is where you’ll find your people,” they aren’t kidding. The friendships I’ve made here are ones that push me to grow as an individual and as a Christian. However, these friends of mine didn’t just come out of nowhere. It took interacting, putting forth an effort and making myself known before any relationships were formed. Getting involved in activities and clubs is a huge aspect of the college experience. Being part of the A cappella Choir and Heritage Singers has led me to those who I can count on to push me musically while also being able to have fun. Joining Discipleship Groups in my dorm allowed me to meet some of the strongest, God-fearing woman I know. Having them around to hold me accountable in my faith has been life-changing. Lastly, putting myself out there as a writer for the school newspaper, the Beacon, gave me to the opportunity to be one of the editors. This experience has not only showed me where I want to go in the future, but has also brought me closer to amazing writers I never would have gotten to know otherwise.

Be willing to get out there, try new things and invest in new people. Find people who are easy to connect with, will stay up until the wee hours of the morning because they enjoy your company, and will drop everything just to invest in your life.

I never knew what amazing friendships looked like until I came to NWC. When I sit and look at my friends, I can’t help but feel overabundantly blessed for the way God has been so faithful. These people in my life are one of the reasons why I never want college to end.

If there’s ever a place to find your people, it’s right here at NWC.

A place to be known

When I was trying to decide which college to go to during my junior and senior year of high school, one of the main reasons people said I should go to Northwestern was because it’s a small school, I would have small classes and the professors would actually know who I was. This sounded great to me at the time and it contributed a lot to why I chose to go here, but I didn’t realize just how important this would be to me. I don’t think I even fully appreciated the small community of Northwestern until this year.

Something you should know about me is that I am a wallflower. I don’t like having attention drawn to me and I usually avoid doing anything that will make me stand out. I don’t like talking in class and my freshman year I was always terrified to go to professors’ offices and talk to them one-on-one. If I had gone to a giant school where all my classes would have been in lecture halls, I probably never would have been noticed by professors. They maybe wouldn’t have even known my name.

But at Northwestern, my professors know me—and not just my name—they truly know me. This year it hit me: I am at a place where a wallflower like myself can be noticed and known. This is what gets me excited about going to class; it’s what makes me love being at this school. The times my professors look at me when they refer to my favorite authors. The times that I share my thoughts in front of the class and they smile because they truly appreciate hearing what I have to say. The times they stop me after class to ask me my opinion about something. That I am more than just another student. They show me that I am a unique individual who adds something special to the class.

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I said earlier that during my freshman year I was terrified to go to my professors’ offices, but now I actually enjoy it. I love stepping into their space, letting my eyes roam across their bookshelves as they answer my questions. In those moments, it becomes more than just a professor answering a question. It becomes a conversation between two people who care about what the other person has to say on a subject matter that they are both passionate about. It becomes a conversation of smiles and laughter instead of twists of stomach and nerves.

Because this is a place to be known.