When housing gives you sophomores, make sophomore-ade

, Beacon Correspondent /strong

In high school I was not a social daredevil. I will admit that, when given the choice between attending a house party or staying home to order Chinese and watch Bravo with my best friend, most days I took the dumplings and over-injected housewives. That said, you can imagine the fear I swallowed one night in July when I returned home from work, placed my keys down on the counter, and was casually informed that  one of my roommates had called. I was living with sophomores.

Five weeks later, I entered the Colonial fitting the stereotype of a terrified freshman to a T.  Knowing that I would not be joining my own breed, but rather meeting seasoned older students, was almost too much to sanely handle. However, meandering through the perplexing first week of college changed my view on my housing issues entirely. I’ve come to conclude that inter-grade housing should be more popular at Emerson because it forces even the most socially anxious underclassmen to learn.

Of course, adaptation comes with the presence of challenge, and my scenario was no different. Apart from simply the intimidation factor of my living arrangements, it also appeared that the numbers were not in my favor. According to Emerson’s website, the Colonial is home to 372 students and only about 50 of those students are freshmen. The halls are quiet, people can rarely be found in the common rooms, and the suites are spacious enough that it is tempting to never leave them. In essence, it’s not the best format for friend-making.

To further exacerbate things, when I first stepped into my suite I came to realize that two of my roommates would not be moving in until later in the week and the other two live very busy lives. Bottom line, I spent quite a bit of time alone those first few days.

Beyond the solitude inside the suite, one of the most frustrating aspects of not living alongside other freshmen was the task of walking to orientation events alone. It was faintly heartbreaking swerving through large groups of suitemates or floormates as they laughed and skipped down Boylston Street on their way to orientation events like Hooray or the Date Doctor. For the first two days, I was a traveling party of one doing my best to be friendly but constantly feeling like I was missing something.

It wasn’t until my third day that I began to truly recognize the benefits of my situation. As I sat in my room, I stared down at my phone and I began to text everyone I had met at Emerson and the surrounding schools. Not only did I text, but I Facebooked too. I cast my net out into the sea of social media and pulled back a bounty of new interaction.

Suddenly, I no longer had to eat in the dining hall alone (something I’d done twice, both times peppering my food with a faint taste of awkwardness). I had overcome my fears and reached out. For the first time in my life I had learned the value of networking.

In days following, I came to love my living arrangement, and I no longer consider myself cursed by the housing office. In fact, I’ve come to believe that I am at a greater advantage than average freshmen. Not only do I now know the value of stepping out of my social bubble, but I’ve come to find that being surrounded by people with a knowledge that far exceeds my own can only be beneficial.

On one particular occasion, when I could no longer hold back the floodgates of homesickness and tears, my suitemate’s unique brand of wisdom really hit home. She came into my room to find my crying and hunched over the dim blue light of a computer screen. When asked what was the matter, I sobbed about how much I missed my old life and how I was not meeting people easily. I was told that everyone has a difficult time the first few weeks and that I would find my niche by second semester. I believed her and was soothed by her confidence and sympathy.

When any of my roomies offer advice or share their experiences I take their words to heart. This does not only pertain to the first-week blues, but to all areas of the novel world of college. From which clubs to join, where to find parties, and how to rally for an 8 a.m. Friday class, they know their stuff. For these reasons I have grown to admire and respect each one of them.

Only a week ago I could not have articulated the anxiety I felt upon entering the dorms. Now I am consumed with nothing but pride and gratitude. I’m told that college is a place for learning, and I can say with conviction that living with upperclassmen is one of the best classes in life I could have ever signed up for.

emJennifer Sullivan is a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major. Her suitemates Carly Loman, the assistant opinion editor of the Beacon, and Xakota Espinoza, the deputy news editor of the Beacon, did not edit this story. /em