By Alex Downing
When the word “dormitory” comes to mind, one may be inclined to imagine messy, cramped quarters, a plethora of caffeinated beverages and fast-food wrappers, inventive storage techniques, and a persistent pile of dirty laundry that seemingly never diminishes. But for many young adults, the college dorm room represents freedom and progression. After all, Napster, WordPress, Dell and Facebook were all started within the confines of student housing facilities.
Moving into a dorm is perhaps the quintessential experience for new college students. For many, this milestone represents a step towards independence, a bridge between adolescence and adulthood. But while such a transitional period in a person’s life is new and exciting, it also comes with many unforeseen challenges. Disputes over cleaning habits, contrasting sleep schedules and the complicated division of a small space are just a few of the many possible difficulties that accompany this style of living. They add to the complex labyrinth of navigating a secondary education.
Personally, this is my first time rooming in a dormitory setting. For a long time, I could not wrap my head around the idea of living like this. I envisioned clashes and conflicts, chaos and clutter, disquietude and disorganization. You see, I have always been the type of person who held a sincere appreciation for the tranquil solitude of personal space. So abandoning my normal tendencies and attempting to adapt to a lifestyle outside of the rigid barriers of my comfort zone seemed daunting.
However, my relatively smooth transition into this new living arrangement is a testament to the pleasant housing system here at Southern Maine Community College. As someone who is both defeatist and particular, I have actually found this experience somewhat enjoyable. I am currently living at Spring Point Hall. My close proximity to classes is convenient, the sense of being immersed in my learning environment is encouraging, and the actual facility itself is, for the most part, perfectly adequate.
This is not to say everything is flawless. We have yet to be provided chairs for our desks so I currently utilize an outdoor folding-seat. For some reason the heating and cooling unit seems to be dispelling cold air despite rapidly descending temperatures. My room’s nearness to both the elevator and an exit door ensure that a constant hub of noise and activity linger outside of my door.
As I am ever-curious about the opinions of others, I decided to ask around to find out just how students are finding their accommodations this year. In a Festivus-style “airing of grievances,” I sat down with three residents of SMCC’s housing facilities and let them reveal their protests and praises.
My first interview was with second-year student, Anelise Carroll. Anelise returned to Spring Point this semester and is settling in nicely to her new room. Her walls are adorned with stylish tapestries and her raised bed allows for ample storage. Since she already has had experience with housing at SMCC, I was interested in hearing if there have been any noticeable differences between this year and last; especially since the preamble to this semester’s housing situation was unique, to say the least. However, Anelise informed me that the residents’ behavior and overall atmosphere seems comparatively familiar. This demonstrates the adaptability of the young adults here that had to deal with some unusual circumstances last month (i.e. living in a hotel for three weeks).
As far as complaints go, Annelise’s were minor and manageable. Like me, she takes a little issue with the level of noise pollution emanating from the hallways and is frustrated with the lack of seating. However, she enjoys the responsibility and the sense of community that dormitory life provides.
But what about those being housed at
Surfsite Hall? I was eager to discover how the boys across the parking lot have been liking their accommodations. I turned to Carter Castay, a first-year student, in order to gain some insight.
Carter is having an exceptionally satisfying stay in Surfsite. His roommates are proving to be helpful and engaging companions which has surely eased his transition. In fact, Carter has taken to dorm life so quickly that nights spent back home seem less familiar. “Whenever I go home for the weekend, it feels a little weird,” he explained. “It’s my room and my bed, but at the same time it’s not, because I’ve grown so used to living in a dorm.” Carter’s only real qualm is his measurable distance from the dining hall.
In a third interview, I got to hear a fascinating perspective about the on-campus housing here. Rika Sasada, an international student doing a year abroad at SMCC, told me about the similarities and differences between rooming here and dorming in Japan. Rika is particularly enjoying the luxuries of a stable WiFi connection, an en-suite bathroom, and access to a mini-fridge and microwave. She told me about how her school’s restrictions on energy consumption forbid the allowance of personal appliances in dorms. However, she is very unaccustomed to the lack of volume control that certain students display during late hours of the night. She also has taken minor issue with the lack of some standard conveniences such as desk chairs and a properly functioning heating and cooling system; the air conditioning system in her room seems to be leaving her frigid at times.
The gray area between being dependent and independent is a confusing and unusual time in the lives of many young adults. Living in a building with a conglomeration of near-perfect strangers is an accurate representation of just how strange this period can be. Though moving into a dorm is both a rewarding and trying experience, at the end of the day it teaches us important lessons about how to function properly by ourselves and with the cooperation of others. I’m pleased to hear that the gripes and difficulties for some of the students here seem relatively minute and that living on the campus of Southern Maine Community College appears to be more of an advantage than a hindrance.