‘I broke the bed:’ Awkward sound bites for an awkward week
A few notes: My roommate and I had chosen random. Neither of us were active on social media. We had texted one another only twice: once for brief introductions and once to coordinate dorm shopping. We were both arriving early at Washington University for pre-orientation and his time in LAUNCH would be spent almost entirely off-campus, meaning a couple hours on Sunday night would form his entire impression of me before we truly moved in on Thursday.
When he walked in the door, we smiled at each other. “Jonah?” “Yeah. It’s nice to meet you!” We took those groundbreaking first steps toward each other. Then he went for a handshake. I went for a hug.
I could only hesitate for a moment after this, as I wanted to enlist my roommate’s help raising the height of my mattress. He kindly pulled up a tutorial video, and at 10:15 p.m. we flipped the bed frame to begin our quick project.
We brought in the first RA at 10:45; two ends of the metal were hopelessly stuck at the wrong angle in the wood. By 11:00, there were five of us in the room, staring at the one badly bent corner still left, and I quietly asked my roommate questions about his summer in between various attempts to dislodge the metal. At 11:30, the hallways of Danforth were ringing with the furious strikes of the emergency maintenance man’s hammer. When we finally got to sleep, me lying on a bed that I will never dare adjust again, I prayed that the whole thing might collapse and snap shut on me before I received the inevitable transfer request.
But here’s the thing about transitioning to college: This is going to happen to you, too. Getting locked out of your room when you go to shower, trying to have a conversation when both high school and college activities seem too far away, walking into the wrong classroom and feeling too ashamed to leave—it’s all possible. To prove this—to reassure myself just as much as you—I endeavored to catalog the embarrassing moments other freshmen have faced as we all move into our new homes.
Only in the Movies
Having been raised in Shanghai, Rachit Jain is still adjusting to American cities. Consequently, when Rachit was walking with his pre-o group, he was shocked to see something he believed only existed in cinema. “ARE THOSE YELLOW SCHOOL BUSES ACTUALLY A REAL THING?” he recounts yelling, and immediately found himself at the receiving end of several confused stares. To Rachit’s credit, the picture of a “normal bus” he showed me does make me wonder why we grew up riding bananas on wheels.
“Do you know Josh?”
Sabrina Spence didn’t. She only knew that a boy she had met barely an hour before had left his phone at their table on the first floor of the Danforth University Center when he left to play pool. When the rest of the group went their separate ways, Sabrina took it upon herself to return the phone to its rightful owner. Remembering that Josh had mentioned Umrath, she searched the entire dorm for an hour, regularly asking people where she might find Josh before realizing that, as it was the first day of Summer Orientation and Advising Registration (SOAR), nobody knew each other. When she finally returned to the DUC, defeated, someone told her about the second floor fun room, where she found Josh at the pool table.
I mentioned this earlier as a worst-case, hypothetical example, but doing so may have jinxed it for John Biziorek. John’s first night was fine up until 3:00 a.m., when he left his room to use the bathroom. The door was locked when he returned. “I banged on the door for a solid ten minutes and was yelling for my roommate to open the door,” he admits. Unfortunately, his roommate slept through it all. It took a half hour of knocking intervals for John to finally wake him and get back inside.
What can we learn from this? Being an incoming freshman is going to be uncomfortable, and we’re all going to have moments that make us want to bury under our covers until we graduate. I just hope these moments bring us closer together as a class instead of drawing us into ourselves. And to Cade Elliott, my amazingly understanding roommate, I trust stumbling on the first step won’t slow our stride as we embark on this crazy journey together.