The tagline to Case Western Reserve, “Think Beyond the Possible,” should come with an asterisk at the end of it. The asterisk would mean, “In order to start thinking, you need to shack up with complete strangers and hope for the best.”
The dorm life is an odd experience. High school was full of personalities that were completely opposite of our own.
However, Emily from fourth period AP Chemistry didn’t have to follow you home and live in the room right next to yours. Move-in day seems like an eon ago. We were all smiles and couldn’t wait to get to know everyone on the floor. The smiles remained as wide as the doors we kept open. Wanting to make friends and not seem so lonely on campus became a priority. Now here we are, a half semester in, and some of us choose to not smile as if we are hiding the seventh grade disaster called braces. And our doors act as if they are working on an “Open” and “Closed” schedule.
I quite enjoy the conversations I have with my roommate; he’s respectful and laughs at my terrible jokes. Who wouldn’t want that? I could have been in a much worse rooming situation to be honest. But you know how your parents say, “It’s the little things that matter.” Well, they lied. The little things now drive you up a wall, around the room and eventually the police have to pull you over for driving so recklessly. Down to the audible chewing, the too-loud typing or even the random noises a roommate makes in their sleep, the little things can start to take a toll.
Don’t get me wrong, my roommate could write his dissertation on the crazy things that I do. We all have little quirks that were not so apparent when we first arrived. A reason we let these oddities out now is most likely because we are recreating a little bit of the routine we had at home. Let’s be real. When a sibling did something annoying at home, you were not afraid to be honest just to get your point across or make them stop.
Once we got to university, we stopped being real for a minute to make friends. Now it is time to let parts of our personalities come through. It’s a double-edged sword once we try. When you need a roommate to be quiet or want someone to leave your room, you’re too cautious of sounding mean and becoming the designated floor douchebag. The line between being absurd in a request and being legitimately justified looks blurred to us. The only situations in which I’ve had to act the most like an adult dealing with members on my floor.
I remember my resident assistant saying to us during our first floor meeting, “Don’t worry. Soon enough you all will know everything about each other.” Call it freshman arrogance, but I refused to believe that we all would know each others’ business. Once again, the freshman arrogance was proven wrong. Living in such close proximity leads to awkward situations. Whether it is by accident or on purpose, we end up finding out a little too much about the boy in the quad nearby or the girl across the hall. We see a lot more than we ever intended. Opening the multiple lines of communication when school first started sometimes worked out of our favor. You realize that your personalities do not match well and it becomes a situation similar to breaking up with someone that was in that same AP chemistry class. You see them every day and you both know you used to be friends, but you still live together.
Dealing with people face-to-face is a skill that unfortunately needs to be developed. No matter how much we disagree with our neighbor, being at least friendly to them is important. Floors are still communities that need to be built and maintained. Yes, there is gossip and exclusiveness, but there are still laughs and smiles that can be shared every once in a while. Dorm life can be difficult. However, I think that it adds to the unique experience that is college.
Stephen Kolison is a first-year biology student and member of IMPROVment. While confining himself to his dorm, he enjoys knitting while watching Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.