Living away from home can be terrifying. But, living in a building with a bunch of strangers can be worse. That’s what I thought. When I moved into Dykstra Hall back in the Fall of 2020 I was scared. I was going in blind and I was going to be with a cluster of girls I didn’t know. Being an introverted person all I wanted to do was move back home.

Actual Experience

It was not that bad. I enjoyed it, actually. If only COVID hadn’t been a thing and kept everyone in the cluster separated by masks. I met new people, and am still best friends with my Freshman year roommate.

Sitting in the doorway of my room I would listen to conversations being had around the room. Some of my cluster mates were rushing. Others had lots of homework. Some of them were in a few of my classes.

Getting Past the Awkward

When you don’t know people but are forced to walk past them to take a shower, it’s awkward. When they can hear you talking through your room door, it’s awkward. How do you get past that?

I took deep breaths and walked quickly. Sounds cowardly I know. But that’s what helped me. I could pretend they weren’t there if I focused on the end goal. Eventually, I got to know the girls more. Sometimes we would chat while walking to the bathroom door. Or chat while brushing our teeth.

Even when I moved into Gilmore my Sophomore year this awkwardness crept back. But, same as before, I got past it and made friends. Or, I would focus on the fact that one of my friends might be in the bathroom and I can make small talk with them instead of a stranger.

You’re Not Alone

I know, cheesy. Everyone tells you this. But they aren’t wrong. You are not alone in your concerns and fears. I promise you that there are other people moving into residential living spaces who feel the same. They are also worried and nervous, unless they came in knowing everyone (which is unlikely).

No one wants to walk that long hallway to the bathroom in a towel or a robe. But no one has the place to judge someone who is. There is always someone else thinking the same thoughts you are. Someone who knows no one. So never think it’s just you who feels overwhelmed, because you aren’t alone.

But if you are really worried, try and meet someone outside of your residential hall or floor. Make friends on other floors or other buildings. One of my closest friends I met in a Bible Study Freshman year because I didn’t want to see the same people everyday. I loved my cluster but I wasn’t making new friends in my online classes.

This friend was the reason I chose to live in Gilmore my Sophomore year. Through them I had met a bunch of other people and we now have a little friend group. They all lived in Gilmore Freshman year, but me and my Freshman year roomie moved to Gilmore Sophomore year to join them all.

Having friends in my residential hall was such a relief. There were always people I could talk to in the hall. I could walk with them to buildings, even if we weren’t in the same classes. It also relieved some anxiety. Now, there weren’t as many strangers on the building floor I had to worry about making small talk with. I felt more confident knowing people. But I never would have gained that confidence if I hadn’t put myself out there and made friends.


Yes. The Residential Life Experience is a very valuable one. While some may argue that living away from home and surviving without your parents is hard: I won’t disagree. I’m not going to say I didn’t gain experiences from it. I made life-long friends and was able to grow within a community of people going through similar events. We were able to grow together.

Published by Emily Leegwater

Class of 2024 Hometown: Zeeland, MI Major: English; Creative Writing emphasis Minor: Studio Art

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *