Applying to college is both exciting and nerve-wracking, and it’s not just the academic part that evokes these feelings. After you receive your acceptance letter, everything about college becomes real, including where you’re going to live.
I’m extremely grateful that Northwestern is one of the many colleges that requires freshmen to live in the dorms. I graduated high school as a shy and introverted gal who avoided social interactions as much as possible. Through my conversations and friendships with the women living on my wing for my first three years on campus, I was able to gain confidence and branch out a little from my shyness. I met other introverts who understood the need for peace and quiet to recharge.
I’m now in an apartment for my last year, and when my other roommates are elsewhere and I’m alone, I sometimes get that sad feeling, wishing I could be back in the lively dorms.
If you’re excited for the new adventure you’ll be on in college but are a little worried about dorm life or don’t know what to expect, let me give a few reasons why your time in the dorms should be cherished:
1. Community: If you haven’t heard, this is one of Northwestern’s buzzwords. Though it seems cliché to use it, you’ll understand exactly what I mean when you walk down your wing and the doors are open, inviting you in. Pals will sit in the hallway and chat and you have the choice to hop and skip over their legs or sit down and join in. There is so much life in the dorms and I never realized how much I appreciated that.
2. Buddy System: Maybe you and your roommate aren’t super close, or maybe they are busy or have other plans when dinner rolls around. Fear not! There is a whole wing of humans you live with who need food too. If you need a dinner buddy, you’re almost guaranteed someone will be looking for one too. All you have to do is simply walk down the hall and ask. Some wings also have wing dinner nights, so you’ve got at least one dinner covered.
3. Wing Events: Part of your RA’s job is to plan events to unite the wing. Sometimes it involves a brother/sister wing or it’s a dorm-wide event, but these are great opportunities to meet new pals, especially at the beginning of the year. Wing events could be going to the corn maze, ice skating, Blue Bunny, late-night Perkins runs, and so much more. And it doesn’t stop with the RAs either! If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan and are searching for others to join in on a movie marathon, it’s not hard to gather a group. I’ve enjoyed the spontaneous adventures and looked forward to planned events. I met so many wonderful friends because of these events and I will always recommend joining in/
4. RAs: I’m not tooting my own horn, but RAs are a big part of dorm life. When I moved in freshman year, my RA was incredible. I could laugh with her about the silly times but she also held me when I cried. RAs are that person you can talk to about classes, roommate tension, or even the meme you found. We don’t have all the answers, but we can at least point you in the right direction and encourage you along the way. Your RA wants to be that person you can talk to or at least go to for help, so take advantage of that!
5. It’s Fun: You may be laughing at this reason, but let me tell you, never underestimate the effect of a spontaneous dance party or random pop-in to another room. A quick hello can easily turn into an hour conversation. A shared love for a song you’re jamming out to can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I still remember the first two years when little baby ducks appeared on our wing and it drew folks out of their room and we bonded over our love for cute, baby animals. (Whoever did that, thank you. Best prank ever!) You never know what is going to happen, and that makes the adventure of dorm life that much more exciting.
I realize these sound directed more towards women versus men. I can’t speak for the men’s dorms and if they check off every one of these reasons, but there are incredible friendships I have seen formed and have heard about video game competitions and chicken nugget-eating contests, so I’ll assume they’re equally exciting.
Enjoy your time preparing for college and dorm life. Get excited for the opportunity to meet a bunch of wonderful people. Cherish your years in the dorm and milk them for all their worth. The time on campus will fly by faster than you realize and you’ll miss those good times.