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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “On Family Weekend, two worlds collide”

    College is a time of really extraordinary freedom. No other period in life diverges so completely from everything that came before, and the opportunities that arrive are heady and dangerous. You can eat whatever you want, and gain the Freshman 15. You can drink whatever you want, and end up vomiting on someone’s carpet. There’s so much responsibility and control, and no one to share it with – after all, there’s no family around to keep you in line.

    Not so fast. As Family Weekend approaches and students scramble to hide the beer bottles in their recycling bins and learn where the library is, two worlds are about to collide: your first family, and your family at school. Not only is college a time of unprecedented autonomy, but it’s also a time wheen students have their first adult relationships. The people you live with in school are the first roommates you have who don’t have to love you no matter what – whether you get along famously or hate each other’s guts. It’s sink or swim from here on out.

    The relationships students construct in college are unique to this period in their lives, because they are suddenly much more sophisticated – and, necessarily, more complicated – than any that came before. Roommates are not just potential friends or enemies – they are people

    As Family Weekend
    approaches and students scramble to hide the beer bottles in their recycling bins and learn where the library is, two worlds are about to collide: your first family, and your family at school.

    who share your space. All kinds of adult dilemmas arise: How does one tell roommates that if they forget to take the trash out one more time, fisticuffs will ensue? How does one tell roommates that the music they play 24 hours a day is driving them up the wall? Most importantly, how does one survive with a roommate who snores?

    The ways that we learn to deal with the people we have to live with under contract (not because they are family) are vital tools for communication and cohabitation for the rest of our lives. Learning how to negotiate shared space is an important hurdle on the way to adulthood and teaches us how to build families based on mutual respect, communication and work. The fights students have with their roommates are some of the most important conflicts of their lives, because they force them to learn the art of compromise and to create a positive living environment built on something other than obligatory familial love.

    These relationships are also a measure of how important family is to each of us. Whatever colorful words we might employ to describe our families to new friends at school, they have a way of worming their way into our subconscious – why else do we need such a strong network of friends to help us through the challenges we face in these next few years? The families we create at school are a representation of the family we leave behind, and offer an opportunity to form powerful relationships that last a lifetime.

    So, as you give your family a tour of campus and try to convince them that you spend your weekends studying instead of partying, give them a chance to meet the family you’ve made here. They’ll be glad to know that you’re being taken care of. Thank them for putting up with you for so many years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far at school, it’s that I’m actually not always a pleasure to deal with. Tell them you appreciate how hard it is to keep the peace, and how much work it takes to prevent a house from becoming a complete disaster area. And when your relatives leave at the end of the weekend, thank your family here for being there when you can’t be home, for learning how to work and live like adults, and for loving you not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s one of the hardest things to learn, and one of the most important. It’s one of the great things about school – you and your family here can learn together.

    Sarah Devlin is a sophomore majoring in English and political science who would move back home if it meant never doing dishes again. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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