I grew up in two different houses, in two neighborhoods two miles apart.
For the majority of my childhood, I lived in a home that my father had built for my mother as a wedding gift (I know, goals). It was quaint and cozy and a happy place containing only good memories. When I was nine, my parents decided to move into a home with an extra bedroom, on a street with sidewalks, and with more opportunities for me to walk into town and have fun with friends on Friday nights as I grew, without having to worry about finding a way home.
Although in theory these houses were engineered structures with roofs on top, I am confident in claiming that they helped shape me into who I am, and I always make sure to give them ample credit when expressing where I come from.
I love the town I grew up in and love the people I was surrounded by even more, but by senior year of high school, I was ready for yet another change in living accommodations.
When I took a tour of Brockport, I never got to see on-campus housing. I am still unsure as to why this was; but it was, nonetheless. That being said, when I finally decided to apply for suite-style dorming, I chose based on the principle that I would be sharing a bathroom with far less people than I would have been in corridor-style dorming. As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, this was a good deal.
As a freshman in college, dorms are everything. These are our havens from the stresses of lecture slides and the horrors of group projects. These are the rooms in which you will have your first college-inspired breakdown, where you will formulate your first text home to express your frustrations, where you will binge-watch one too many shows on Netflix, and where you will spend a majority of your time with so many peers in the same boat as you are.
What I did not know was the difference my living experience would have on my social experiences. As I said before, I lived in suite-style dorming. This meant that I shared a bathroom and small common area with three other people. These people, these strangers, soon enough were sharing a mini fridge with me, splitting the cost of cleaning supplies, and doing their fair share of the chore load. This, unfortunately, does not always go smoothly. To avoid conflict, some students choose to find a roommate on Facebook or through other school-related forums. I chose to be optimistic and let the luck of the draw decide my fate for me.
When I was given my dorm assignment, I learned that I was put into the “Global Village” Living Learning Community. This meant that I was placed onto a floor with students interested in international travel. As a Buffalo native, the only border I had crossed was twenty minutes away into Canada; but I thought: “why not!?”, and chose to keep my mind open.
I was ultimately roomed with three great roommates from all different backgrounds. One of my roommates was from Jamaica and brought with her so many different perspectives on the world than those I had been previously introduced to. Another roommate was from Harlem and had very different tastes and interests than I had ever known. My final roommate was from Albany and is the peppiest girl I have ever met to date.
Although my roommates were lovely, they did not end up becoming my best friends (and that’s okay!). I ended up becoming very close to a group of girls across and down the hall from me. To this day I feel lucky to have lived so close to them, while having my own space to escape to when I had papers due or just needed to get some sleep.
However, there were still negatives when it came to my living situation:
- First, I was CONSTANTLY sick. Going from having my own bedroom to living so closely to so many people took a serious toll on my immune system. This, unfortunately, is a struggle many college students know all too well.
- Also, I had to clean my own bathroom, which left lots of work for me as it was a larger deal to me to have a clean bathroom than it was to my suitemates.
- There is also a real difference in making friends between living in suites and living in corridor. In the corridor-style dorms, everyone seemed to make an effort to keep their door open, which left more room to build friendships as residents could travel door to door and easily introduce themselves. In suite-style dorming, I felt more pressure to put myself out there and knock on doors rather than simply saying hello in passing and having the opportunity for conversation to stem from there. Luckily, I am a communication student and have the innate ability to introduce myself to strangers. However, not everybody carries this trait, so I think it’s important to be aware of these differences.
- The suites are also older buildings. Whether you think this is a big deal or not, you will always feel a sense of envy when you hear someone mention that they were placed in a newer building.
Ultimately, the friends I made made my experience better. The hallways were not dictated by gender (which I liked), but I personally would have preferred corridor.
My sophomore year was a very different experience. You get the chance to live with people that you know, which was cool. Sophomores still have to live on campus, but get to reside in the high-rise buildings, which offer suites with more living space and an extra bedroom. Getting these rooms, however, was a different story.
Choosing suites is CRAZY! My friends and I heard Bramley was the best high-rise option, so we decided that on the day we could apply, we would do so immediately to ensure that we got into the rooms we wanted. However, choosing non-freshman living arrangements is based on credits. That being said, if you are a sophomore in terms of completed credits and your friend is a junior, that roommate gets to register first. So, your friend can pick a room, but you have to wait.
This meant that my group of friends got split up. Four of my good friends lived next door with two random roommates who chose that space before we got the chance, and my roommate and I got stuck (luckily) next door with four other random suitemates.
Although we ultimately got into the best building, there was an obvious detachment from the sense of community that we felt with our building as freshmen. No one is making the extra effort to warm you up to campus anymore, and most people have chosen their inner circles of friends, so there is less of a demand to meet new people. Bramley was also the dorm that many Honors students chose to live in, which meant that it was always very quiet due to a high level of studying.
In all, living on campus provided me with a lot of life-changing opportunities. However, you can’t have the good without the bad, and I think it’s important to iterate that. If I am being honest, freshman year was the best time of my life. I learned so much about who I am as a person, far beyond who I thought I was as I walked out the front door of my Buffalo home, bags packed, for the last time before making my first of many commutes to Exit 47: Brockport, NY.