Growing up, I loved to imagine what my dorm would look like. I watched Youtube videos of college room tours, and dedicated a whole Pinterest board to decor ideas. Now that I’m back at Hope for my second year, I’ve come to understand that the residential experience is much more than just the room you live in. Residential Life at Hope provides a support system and community where students can belong.
When coming to Hope as a freshman, students can sign up with a roommate or go in blind. Hope has a special survey designed to match students with people that have similar room preferences and habits. Some people find their close friends this way. Students are typically required to live on-campus for the first three years at school. Their fourth year, they can live off campus in an apartment or rented house, or continue on campus. Most people will live in dorms the first two years and then nearby Hope-owned cottages during junior and senior year. This structure is intended to give students a community starting right when they step on campus.
Last year, my dorm was co-ed and this year I live in a smaller building with all girls. These dorms have different cultures and communities, but I have uniquely found my place in both of them. In every dorm, there are student RAs (resident assistants) as well as RDs (resident directors) that students can be in relationship with. This year, I have been blessed through coffees and chats with both my RA and my RD. I truly appreciate their willingness to invest in forming a relationship with me. My experience with them is not abnormal; RAs and RDs are hired to support students. All those I have met truly do their job well. They put on community-building events (from movie watching to pancake eating!) and have an emergency phone that students can call through the night if needed. This structure and intentionality allows residents to thrive.
When coming to Hope, I was nervous that the dorm I signed up to live in would limit who I was or who my friends would be. While dorms are a good place to find community, they’re not exclusive. As a sophomore, my best friends live in all different dorms than me. I love to go visit their rooms, and never feel unwelcome because I live or don’t live in a certain place on campus. Residential life isn’t limiting like I once feared it was. It’s a way to find your people, but it’s not the only way.
This year, I live with my best friend in a room with arguably one of the best views on campus. Our neighbors have become some of my favorite people, and our RA has become a sweet friend. Residential Life at Hope yields rich relationships, intentionality, and support. I am so very thankful for that.