Why Your Freshman Year Roommate Experience Doesn’t Define Your Hope Experience

I love residential life on Hope College’s campus maybe just a little too much. Over the last three years of living on Hope’s campus, I have enjoyed spending the last two being a Resident Assistant (also affectionately known as a R.A.) to the women of Phelps Hall and Mayor’s Cottage. Living on-campus has shaped me to be a much better person than I was when I entered college. However, I never would’ve expected that to be the case during my freshman year.

Abigail Brummel is a junior and former resident of Phelps Hall.

When I decided to attend Hope my senior year of high school, I didn’t really know anyone else who was planning on attending. Because of this, I decided to come in without a roommate, otherwise known as ‘going potluck.’ I filled out my housing form and prayed that the Lord would lead me to a lifelong friend and the most amazing roommate ever. I pictured us decorating our room in corresponding colors and staying up past midnight sharing secrets. As you can tell, I was pretty naive to how the real world works then. That was not what happened.

I want to preface this story by saying that I still occasionally see my freshman year roommate. If she is reading this, I want her to know that I appreciated our time together and that I think she is an amazing person. We just weren’t amazing people for each other.

Our first semester living together was one of barely speaking and living two very separate lives. I loved our quaint little dorm room in Phelps Hall; she didn’t really like being their very much. I enjoyed being on campus 24/7 and didn’t really see my family very often; her mom is her best friend and she went and slept at home a couple nights a week. I didn’t particularly mind our arrangement. I thought it was okay. However, I don’t believe that she did.

About a month into our second semester, my roommate sent me a text asking if we could chat that evening. She hadn’t been sleeping in our room for the past couple nights, so I thought she just wanted to catch up when she got back. When I arrived back at our room, she asked me to sit and explained to me that she had decided that she no longer wished to live in the dorms and was moving back home. She said that being in a dorm gave a bit of anxiety that she couldn’t shake. I had no idea that she had felt this way. I was shocked. She said she was leaving and wanted to give me my space to process and understand her decision. After she left, I went and bawled in my friend’s room for the next hour.

Once she had moved out, I lived alone for the rest of the year. Being unsure what I was going to do for housing the next year, one of my good friends set me up with a girl also looking for a roommate. We hung out a couple times and found we really liked hanging out with each other, enough to live together. Now, she is one of my best friends and my roommate of two years. Having seen both sides of the spectrum, the loneliness of not having a roommate to someone who I can talk to about anything, has truly made me into a better R.A., friend, and person.

If you’ve made it this far in my story, stick with me for a moral. No matter how your roommate relationship goes, I want to let you know what I didn’t then. What I didn’t understand was that her decision to leave had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t that I was a bad roommate or a bad friend; she just needed to find a space where she could be comfortable. My space was the dorm; her space was at home. Going our separate ways made me better and I cannot thank her enough for that.

Learning To Be Thankful One Day At A Time

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. When I tell people this, I generally get a lot of questions asking why. No, it’s not because my favorite food is mashed potatoes (though it definitely takes a nice second to puppy chow) or because I love watching the Lions lose every year. It’s the idea of taking a specific day out of your life to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but I often forget how good I truly have it. I do not lack food or shelter or a loving support system of family and friends, yet, without fail, I never tell my amazing Heavenly Father about these gifts and why I love them except on this one day a year.

Just going through my normal day provides me with enough things to be thankful for to last a lifetime.

I wake up at the cottage that I share with five of my closest friends. I cannot tell you enough how amazing they all are and how grateful I am to be able to live with them on campus. Our cottage, Mayor’s, sits right across the street from Centennial Park. The Park is beautiful during this time of year. There are so many bright and vibrant colors on the tree. I thank God for my friends, a warm house, and the colors that lighten our lives.

Female student jumps in front of wood church doors. As I walk through Hope’s campus towards my first class, I find an abundance of things to be thankful for in each glance. I pass Dimnent Chapel, my favorite place to worship, and the Bultman Student Center, where I always try to study but fail because I always see so many people that I know and love. I arrive at the DePree Art Center, my favorite building on campus. Inside it sit all my friends, ready to learn and make amazing art together. There is no shortage of inspiration here. I thank God for the places on campus that aide in making me a more rounded student and person, as well as a major (Art) that I love so much.

After class, I go to work at Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing office where I work as a student graphic designer. I enjoy making materials like posters and cards that go out to all sides of campus. It’s so fun seeing my work hanging up places. I am thankful for the opportunities there that are teaching me to become a better graphic designer, the bosses that want to see me learn, and the coworkers that always keep me smiling.

After my day is done, I return back to my cottage. Without fail, I always have at least one text on my phone for one of my family members. Even though I don’t get to see them every day, it’s nice to know that they are one ever one text or phone call away. I’m thankful for a family that is always so present, no matter where we are.

That concludes my day of thankfulness, yet it doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things that I could be thankful for.