By Bentic Sebastian
Leaving my home for another country for further study was daunting for me , because I felt unsure about whether I would find friends as understanding as my friends back home. As an international student, I came to the university knowing nobody in my first year. Missing the whole week of Welcome Week didn’t help either, as I didn’t get a chance to see my future classmates, and I couldn’t sign up for the student clubs at Quad Day either.
I came to my dorm on the day before classes started, and there wasn’t really time for me to meet the other students on my floor. I was very excited to see so many new people at university, but I was also anxious because they hadn’t seen me at the Housing Orientation events. Keep in mind that I was new to the US culture, and socializing had different norms and expectations here than back home. I was anxious about what people would think of me, and I really did not want people feeling uncomfortable while getting to know me.
After the first day of class, I was definitely tired after struggling to find the locations of my classes, and I wanted to do something fun. I had seen a poster earlier, which recommended that I left my door open while I was in my room. My curious side got the better of me, and I decided to use a light rope to pull my door towards the edge of my bed, and went over to my laptop to check Facebook and listen to music. About three songs later, three people just ran into our room, shouting the name of my roommate. They came to talk to my roommate, and they were very surprised to see me. At this point, I stood up from my chair, and delivered what I thought to be the perfect introduction.”Hi I am Bentic, and I live in this room”, which was so obvious that they laughed. Well, through that untimely introduction, I met three of my future floor mates. They were from the suburbs of Chicago, which was surprising to me as I didn’t realize that a lot of people lived around Chicago just as much as people lived in Chicago.
They were sincerely curious about my life, where I came from, and what kind of environment I grew up in. We were having such an exciting conversation, that we forgot to maintain a sensible volume. As people passed by my room wondering what was going in the hall, they came in to hang out for a while. A while lasted about an hour, as time dissolved into chatter and laughter! I had my first little mini party, with no preparation, with no food, and with no invitations. All I had to do was keep my door open!
During my year, I left my door open when I was inside and I was not busy. As a person who has lived in dorms and apartments, there is no question that I loved the dorm life. There was always someone on my floor who had some free time when I found some time off classes, even for a few minutes. Friends lived right across the hall, making it easy to talk to them.
The sad thing was that there were many freshmen who kept their door closed too often in their first semester here. Many of the activities that we did together were spontaneous. My floor mates usually would loudly announce it while running for the bus! By keeping their door closed, some freshmen were not aware of these activities, and lost many opportunities to socialize with other freshmen in the dorm. They missed out on opportunities to get some great friends.
Keeping the door open exposes you to culture, language, accents, and opportunities to hang out and socialize! When you are in your room, and you have some free time, open your door, and watch what happens!