To skip the introduction, go to the bolded, numbered section.
When I applied to Hope College, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
My overnight visit during my youthful high school senior year spring break involved a burrito that was too big for human consumption (I finished it anyway), a Grey Squirrel at the Kletz, awkward conversations with upperclassmen, the most breathtaking sunset at Lake Michigan, and extreme culture shock. I say “culture shock” in the strangest sense because I lived in a predominantly Asian American community (Silicon Valley, California) and I wasn’t used to Hope’s predominantly Caucasian population.
I loved Hope College but I was scared to commit; I was scared of my lack of knowledge and unsure of my ability to adapt. But of course, that’s when God and late-night internet surfing intervened and introduced me to the Phelps Scholars Program.
From what I’ve learned during my three weeks of freshmanhood, no one really knows what the Phelps Scholars are. We know that it’s for freshmen to experience a multicultural community but that’s about it. I also knew that all the Phelps Scholar students lived in Scott Hall, a small building on the outskirts of campus, but I didn’t know how much of an impact that would make in my Hope experience.
So for future Phelps Scholars students out there, here’s Scott Hall in a nutshell:
1. Everyone, literally everyone, lives here
From what I know, the international students here are pretty cool cats. There are students from Bethlehem, Haiti, Kenya, Korea, China, Japan, Sweden, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Germany, and me from the Philippines (mabuhay ang Pilipinas!). I’m sure there are more students I have yet to meet. Then you have the students who came from all over the United States: Arizona, Texas, Chicago, California, Minnesota and so on. Lastly, you have your good ol’ Michigan locals who might just let you in on Michigan secrets and the hand map.
2. Open doors and music playing constantly throughout the day
The rule is simple: quiet hours start at 11 p.m. So of course, we abuse it to the best of our ability. Because Scott Hall is such a loving community, a lot of our doors are held wide open. As a result, people like to blare their music so that the floor can jam out almost 24/7 and sometimes the building if you’re loud enough.
3. Friday nights in the Scott basement are the best
I’ve only been here for three weeks and so far: an impromptu dance party with strobe lights and disco balls, an ultimate Super Smash Bros tournament, Game Night (Cards Against Humanity, Battle of the Sexes, ping pong, and pool) and freshly baked cookies, and a surprise birthday party at 1 a.m.
4. The piano room and the tomb
The piano room and the tomb are communal rooms on the first floor. The piano room is also known as the air conditioning room (Scott doesn’t have air conditioning otherwise) and the room with a vending machine. It’s also really close to the staircase so all the floors can hear you play your beautiful piano music (and your screw-ups but we tolerate it). The tomb is supposedly a study room that is dead quiet but from time to time you’d find a rebellious group of jackanapes infiltrating the space.
5. The kitchen and the computer room
We have one of the biggest kitchens on campus, end of story. If you visit, please make us food, thank you. It’s in the basement, same room as our TV, ping pong table, and pool table. We also have a computer room in the adjacent wing with about seven computers, a printer, and a big white board that students like to wheel around for study groups.
6. Friends at every corner and deep talks
Regardless of how hard you fight it, you will socialize and you will find people who will both open your eyes and relate to you. You will get close to the people in your floor and wing. As someone who liked to keep to herself for most of her life, this came as a surprisingly pleasant experience. I could always find someone to eat with during dining hours, to wave at in passing, to go on donut runs with, to study on the staircase with and to have deep talks with. Expect to find your room filled with people you’ve only seen in passing sharing crazy and genuine stories about their lives and families back at home and maybe a tad bit of gossip.
7. Home away from home
It’s hard to explain in words, but my homesickness was eased here. I feel safe and I am certainly happy. Even though I’ve only barely touched the surface of what it’s like to live as a Phelps Scholar, I’d recommend to any incoming student to apply from the program.
To see what convinced me to join, watch this video from their website: http://www.hope.edu/phelps-scholars-program