You have made the decision to live on campus for your first year of college. This means you will have the opportunity to meet new people, and some will become your friends before classes even begin.
The people you meet in your residence hall may end up becoming your lifelong friends, but, more importantly, you will meet many diverse people, and learn quite a bit about them, but also about yourself. So, who can you expect to meet in your residence hall during your first year of college?
People from Diverse Backgrounds and Cultures:
No matter how diverse your high school is, you will most likely experience even more diversity in your freshman residence hall. In your hall, there will be people from different ethnic backgrounds, races, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. You will all have different hobbies, interests, values, and traditions.
Rather than focusing on the differences, take this as an opportunity to learn something new. Be open-minded about what you can learn from each other, and don’t assume that one way is the ‘right’ way. As holidays approach, find out how your friends in your hall celebrate in similar and different ways than you do. Bring some of those traditions to your own family events. Embrace your new friends who grew up in well-off communities as well as those who had less than you did when they were growing up.
Members of the Opposite Sex:
Depending on your specific college or university, your residence hall will most likely have members of the opposite sex living in your building. In many cases, men and woman are in the same building, but have separate bathrooms and showers, and live either on different floors or on different wings of the building.
While it may sound intimidating to have people of the opposite sex in your building, keep in mind that they will be separated from you in some way, so that you can maintain some privacy. To make the most of the experience, set up ground rules with your roommate at the very beginning of the year, so that you agree upon when members of the opposite sex are allowed and are not allowed in your room. Communicate with each other throughout the year about any concerns or issues that you have, and involve your residence hall advisor if necessary.
Your high school may have had a few Foreign Exchange Students. During college, you will likely meet even more students who are studying at your college from another country. Some students may be at your college for a one-year exchange program, while others may be there to earn their entire degree and will be there for the entire four years.
While you may be intimidated by the potential language barrier and cultural differences, having international students in your residence hall can be an enriching and life-changing experience for you. By learning about another culture and country, you can learn so much more about yourself. Don’t be intimidated, but instead ask the international students about their favorite music, movies and subjects, bring them home for the holidays, ask to see pictures of friends back home. Most importantly, make them feel welcome and comfortable, which is the easiest way to start a friendship.
If you are living in a freshmen residence hall, you will be living with other people who are also new to college. They are going through this experience with you, and they are feeling the same excitement, anxiety, and anticipation as you. Keep in mind, they are also surrounded by new people and are learning how to make this new living environment work for everyone.
The best thing you can do is to be open-minded, eager to learn, and willing to communicate with others in your residence hall. While you will come to college with very diverse backgrounds, you will be united by the fact that this is your first college experience and your ability to learn from one another.