Dorm Sweet Dorm

by Leah Coleman

When I was packing up for college last fall, my mom came in my room and said that she had booked the plane tickets.

“Tickets?” I asked, and then she told me she was coming with me. I was relieved, because I had completely assumed I was going to go on my own. We still laugh about it today.

She had asked, “How on earth were you going to get to campus? A taxi?”

“Yes, that was my plan!” I told her.  I’ve always been a little independent.
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Dorm life at RIT brought some new changes in my life. I had never before moved out on my own, especially never alone outside of Utah. I didn’t have parents to wake me up for school – or make me breakfast. I was now living alone independently; in the dorms with a roommate.

I met my first-year roommate when I arrived at the dorms, and we became close friends. By the end of the year, we were sworn enemies. That happens when you live in such close quarters with someone that isn’t your relative, in my experience. She was my first roommate since my sister, and I upgraded our bunkbeds into our own beds in our own rooms. I’m definitely looking forward to my second roommate now!

It was my first Halloween and Thanksgiving away from home, which was a very weird experience. Halloween was still a blast and if you think I’m too old to dress up, you’re wrong! Thanksgiving consisted of Chinese food and marathoning Netflix shows while the campus was silent because everyone else had gone home. I really feel like I got to internalize that college experience.

(PSA: The Freshman 15 is not a real thing, but the Freshman 10 is. I can proudly say that my highest record at the nearby buffet is a whopping six plates, eight desserts, and three drinks. I may have gone a little bit crazy with the whole freedom thing, but starting the second semester I watched what I was eating, stopped drinking soda, made sure I showered more, but kept doing laundry at 3 am. Some habits are harder to break than others.)
December is usually my favorite month, but I may be biased by the holidays and my birthday. I had been going on three months without seeing my parents, and it was definitely bittersweet to not spend my birthday with them. My birthday is during the last week of classes, right before finals. I was leaving for classes when my RA stopped me and told me he had a box for me. This was confusing because I get my packages from the post office via email reminders. What was he doing with something of mine? Must be a late present or maybe something I ordered online! (Amazon became my new best friend in college – can you say five-pound bag of lemonheads?) I opened the box and it was full of fruits, snacks, and packets of tea and coffee. It was a little finals-week care package! And there was a note inside from my parents and sister wishing me luck. I cried.
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The first snow was an amazing moment. It was earlier than expected and everyone freaked out. I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm with a bottle of eggnog wishing that I was with my family. The snow was like having a little part of Utah there with me. And, it brought out everyone’s inner child. By morning, all the snow had been stomped into the ground. It snowed in November, but barely in December. We even had a snow day, which is rare! Nothing was better than waking up to a set of emails from the school declaring that school was postponed to start later that day, and then another one establishing that campus would be closed for the day because the plows couldn’t do their thing. I immediately went back to sleep with a smile on my face.

I can’t decide if it’s the sleep – or the lack of sleep – that was my best friend during my first year at college. There were times where I pulled all nighters and slept during the day. Whenever I could,  I slept for two different four-hour intervals. Just like the Shakespearean times! My theatre teacher would be proud.  I survived.

Luckily, I was always awake during the late-night fire alarms after someone burnt their midnight snack. Each dorm room is equipped with a doorbell that flashes your lights to get the resident’s attention. In a move of striking, brilliant, creative ingenuity, the school decided to place the fire alarm right next to the door alarm. So when the fire alarm went off or someone rang the doorbell, you had to scrutinize the two lights to figure out which one was flashing. Here’s a great example of this: One night I was still awake doing my homework and my roommate was asleep, when the fire alarm started going off. I got up and started getting warmer clothes on. I watched as my roommate woke up and started complaining because she thought her friend was at the door at this late hour. I had to explain to her that it was the fire alarm. Her attitude changed completely!

During the first week I made some fast friends, who complained about the prices of the textbooks they had to buy. I laughed – until I saw the pricing on the art supplies I needed! Being an art major is not easy, you guys. My desk was constantly cluttered with different pens and pencils. When I moved out, I had to clean every splash of paint that stained the desk and carpets. When I left, I took down all of my art and posters from the walls and the dorm room looked like a skeleton. I’m looking forward to decorating my room again next semester!

As much as I love being home for the summer and working at the Signing Time office, I’m excited for this next year of school! I’m looking forward to the memories I’ll make, as well as the things I’ll learn. I can’t believe I’m about to start my second year of college.

Fun “Fact”: There’s a rumor about the campus that it was intentionally made for the Arizonian weather because it is insanely windy and we refer to certain places on campus as wind tunnels. These rumors are not true, but it makes for a fun theory to share with other people and debate over. There’s a huge metal sculpture in the middle of campus which students have dubbed “the weather machine”. Legend has it that our president controls the weather from the sculpture.

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