How to Love Your Dorm

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here” is written on the entrance of Hell in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Hopefully that’s not written on the entrance of your dorm. However, make no mistake. Dorm life is one of the scariest yet most exhilarating parts of embarking on your college experience.

On one of my first few nights at UCI, I fell asleep around midnight, still nervous about this new chapter of my life. Roughly three hours later, my door was violently thrust open and light pierced through my closed eyelids.

Struggling to see against the bright light, I could make out the shapes of people standing in my room. My eyes adjusted and I saw four unknown people standing in my room, hoisting the body of my new roommate, who had passed out from a night of heavy drinking, onto his bed.

One of them turned and shook my hand, introducing himself as Oliver, and apologized for waking me up. I never saw Oliver again, but I did get the pleasure of making sure my new roommate woke up the next morning.

My introduction to college life was a bit of a whirlwind, but I’m hoping I can give this incoming class a few pointers to survive and, more importantly, to thrive.

There’s a popular phrase that says, “open books lead to open minds.” When it comes to dorm life, “open doors” should be applied to the same idea. The single best way to meet people in your dorm is by literally keeping your door open.

Conversations and friendships can be born over that poster of “The Hangover” you just hung up, or an explanation of that photo of you and your friends with Jason Mraz or simply pulling a soccer ball out of abox.

But having an open mind is just as important when meeting new people and making friends.

As you embark on your time here at UCI, you’ll meet thousands of different people with their own personalities. Some will mesh with yours and some will clash. Simply put: stick with the people you like, put up with the people you don’t.

Let your hall mates become your family. You may be homesick and want to go home for the weekend, but try not to make it a habit. It’s a major step to move away from home, but another great part about dorm life is that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is nervous.

No one knows more than the other. You’ll miss too much by going home too often. During the week, you’ll be in and out of classes, but weekends are when hall bonding can really take place by studying together, going to Newport or cramming everyone into one room to watch a movie.

One of the best parts about Ondas was that everyone in the hall came to UCI as undecided/undeclared majors, so we were all taking a variety of classes in all different subjects. On the first day of classes, I found out I had three out of four classes with my suitemate and we continued to have at least one class together for the rest of the year. Although now we’ve picked different majors, we’re still close friends and have been roommates for over a year.

As clichŽ as it sounds, the best way to make it through your first year is doing it together.

Our hall did not receive our hall jackets until just before spring when most Southern California kids put their jackets away, but the timing couldn’t have been better. Our hall had developed what we called “Ondas Love,” and the jacket symbolized just that. The names of people we started our college lives with are permanently etched on our backs, always behind us and supporting us.

Our hall name is written on the hood so we never forget where we came from and the crest is placed close to our hearts. Even today as I walk along Ring Road, avoiding Greenpeace and the lure of Korean BBQ, I keep an eye out for that sea blue American Apparel jacket adorned with Ondas on the hood. It’s a beacon that Ondas Love is alive and that we survived and thrived during our time in the dorms of UCI.