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From Solitude to Joyful Chaos

Are you ready for your dorm experience? This week’s blog will help those of you who are concerned with transitioning from living as a single-child to sharing your space. Trust me, it’s not that bad.

Silence was normal for me. I grew up as an only child in a 3-bedroom home with older parents. This helped me discover my ability to entertain myself with my thoughts, dreams, and imagination. My older sister was in college and enjoying other opportunities as I grew from a baby to a toddler. But, I always wondered what life would be like with a younger sibling. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever have one, but my freshman year of college turned out to be an opportunity of a lifetime.

As my senior year of high school ended, I anxiously submitted a housing application for on-campus living at Virginia Tech. While answering a questionnaire that would match me with a roommate for the next nine months, I noticed an area that didn’t excite me: bathroom sharing. I developed a plan instantaneously — share a bathroom with the smallest amount of people possible. This limited my options to a suite-style residence hall, but nothing was guaranteed. In a luxurious but hard to secure suite, six people share a living room and a semi-private bathroom.

After waiting for what felt like a year, but was really three and a half months, I clicked the link that displayed the contact information for my roommate. The information contained her name, permanent residence, and cell phone number. Without any hesitation, I sent her a text and received a response immediately. Within the next five minutes, we’d added each other on Facebook and Instagram and could summarize each other’s life for the last five years. Technology definitely answers the unknowns that can grant peace of mind, at times.

After communicating for most of the day and stalking each other’s profiles, we knew what sports we enjoyed the most, each other’s recent accomplishments, backgrounds, intended majors, and passions. I was excited to meet my roommate in the next month and begin this new-found freedom together, but getting to know my suite mates was a different story.

A few days after constantly communicating with my roommate, I received an unexpected email from Katie, one of my suite mates. Katie’s email was saturated with a great introduction, but the best part of it all was her ability to bring a 50” flat screen in August. At that moment, I realized life with these new strangers wouldn’t be so bad after all. Who doesn’t enjoy binge watching Netflix on a brand new 50” flat screen?

Life with Maia, Darya, Katie, Emily, and Olivia turned out to be unexplainably phenomenal! Those five young women will always hold a special place in my heart. We’ve cried on sad occasions together, laughed so hard until we cried, celebrated in each other’s accomplishments, taught each other valuable life lessons, and created bonds that will surpass generations.

In the early months of our freshman year, we were overwhelmed with the transition phase, but we pulled through. There are times when I return to the suite after three back to back 75 minute classes to Maia relaxing on the couch while watching her favorite TV show. Emily was easily found napping or scrolling through her endless timeline. Darya, my roommate, was usually found in a sleep-induced comma or waking up from her routine four-hour nap. Katie was most likely studying like her life depended on it. Olivia often went missing because “studio” required more time and effort than an average person produces. She would leave the suite every morning by 8:00am and return when the day was almost over. Those moments will stick with me forever, but we also have memories that capture the essence of our friendship.

The winters in Virginia Tech can be unbearable at times, if you don’t embrace the fun with friends. One particular winter, everyone in our suite, except Darya, suited up in their snow boots, heavy coats, gloves, and face protectors to sled down one of Virginia Tech’s steepest hills after a two feet snowstorm. We didn’t have a real sled, so we found some extra cardboard and went to work. After dancing in the snow, sledding, and making snow angels, a few fellow Hokies joined in on the fun with a REAL snowboard. Olivia and Emily’s eyes locked onto the experience they were having. Before our sledding adventure was over, the two of them were riding the hill like pros. Later on, we found a storage container top and used it as a sled. That’s Virginia Tech’s motto, “Invent the Future,” at its best.

Everyone in our suite enjoyed food, including some friends and boyfriends that are now family. The 50” TV Katie brought stayed on the Food Network channel. Our favorite show by far was Guy Fieri’s Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We gathered around the TV nightly and talked about food while eating food. Our usual meals were a delicious steak dinner from West End or ramen (a college student’s go-to). Eventually, our shared interest in food led us to our residence hall kitchen.

We baked cakes for birthdays, shared family recipes, and prepared dinner like a real family of six. Our other go-to meal was Walmart’s Lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken, with Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes, and canned green beans. If you ever get sick of the food in the café or live the lifestyle of a broke college kid, gather $20 with some friends and enjoy some fine dining. Trust me, it’s a meal that will eliminate hunger pains and become a tradition.

These are a few of the memories and experiences I have enjoyed and look forward to with my suite mates. Maia, Emily, Darya, Katie, and Olivia are wonderful people with bright futures ahead of them. We all have different interests, passions, and backgrounds. But, shared traits between us all include empathy, love, and the service mentality Virginia Tech thrives on. I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone every day and explore what life has to offer. You will create relationships and memories that will last forever.

Oh yeah, sharing a bathroom with five people wasn’t so bad after all.

Danielle Jeffers

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