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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: The dormy days ahead

For many students at the UA, their freshman year is a time of adjustment and stress, but it is also a time for new experiences both academically and socially. While often dismissed as sub-par living conditions due to their confined living space and high price, the dorms are a valuable experience that provide the necessary environment for freshmen to grow and thrive during their transition into adulthood.

When I first moved from my hometown in San Diego to Tucson, I was worried about making new friends. What if the people were too culturally different? What if I was too shy? What if no one I meet shared the same interest as me? These doubts and uncertainties kept me up at night in the days leading to my move.

RELATED: Dorms 101: Where to live on campus

I chose to move into the dorms due to the convenient location more than the social environment. I never had a roommate and assumed that we would not be close friends. However, after we both moved in and all the introductions had taken place something strange happened. He asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him.

At the time I had been quite a fitness buff and had assumed that it would take time for me to find a gym buddy, but here was one provided for me by the university with the same schedule as I had. We began working out together every day after our classes had finished and as we spent more time together we realized we had very similar interests. Work outs turned into watching cartoons together — we’re both childish like that — and that resulted into a lasting friendship.

As the year moved on we found more people in our dorm who shared similar interests and before long we had a thriving social circle. As it had turned out my fears about making friends were unfounded.

The dorms did more for me that year than just foster a healthy social setting.

All through high school I’d always hated school. I was a football player whose personality bordered on an ’80s movie cliché. I continually struggled to feel connected to my academics — it was always something I had to do, just another chore. I assumed that college would be more of the same.

I was allowed to pick my classes but the options were limited and there was only one class that I was actually excited about. In one of my forced classes I had to write an essay on the minor themes of “The Iliad.” I had decided to decide to write about something which was not heavily discussed in class but I believed was prevalent through the epic. I emailed my professor to see if she believed I could potentially write a full essay on it and she told me to attend her office hours after class that week. I had no idea what to expect in the office hours and I was slightly nervous.

RELATED: How to survive living in a dorm, according to UA residence assistants

When I arrived the professor asked me to sit and offered me a piece of candy. We began discussing my ideas about the essay and something I wasn’t expecting happened. I started caring about the class. I found it fulfilling to talk with an expert about what I thought Homer had been hinting at. When we were finished I left with a smile on my face and a feeling of excitement about the upcoming essay — something I had never felt about school work.

Uncertain if my new appreciation for academics was for a specific subject or academics in general, I attended a different class’s office hours and found the same sense of euphoria. For the rest of my freshman year I began attending office hours regularly and for the first time ever I achieved a perfect GPA.

To this day I still enjoy attending office hours, but rarely do so. The long transit from my house to the university transforms what was once a joyous occasion into chore and burden. Those living in the dorms have the unique advantage of being within walking distance of all academic resources the university has to offer. At any point a librarian or professor is a five-minute walk away. Now the trip is too far for me to “pop in” with a quick question and I find myself longing for when I lived in the dorms.

The social and academic environment fostered by the dorms creates a unique experience and it is important for all students, especially freshman, to take advantage of their time there.

Follow Jackson Morrison on Twitter.

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