A Home Away From Home

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lexi McWhinnie | Student, ’16

Coming into college for the first time, students have a million things on their minds.

“Will I be able to find all my classes?”

“How am I going to handle a college workload?”

“What if I fall in the café and make a fool of myself on the first day?”

Yet the concerns that tend to trump all others are those that circle around living on campus. Students often worry that they may get a difficult roommate, that they won’t fit in, or that they will be too far from home. I myself felt these fears as I came into Quinnipiac University in 2012. It didn’t take long for the Honors Program’s Living Learning Community to assuage these fears.

I came into Quinnipiac my freshman year having never been far from home for more than a couple days and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I have always been a homebody, and although I had found myself comfortable enough in many places, there never was a place that provided me with a comfort level that even came close to matching that of being at home with my family. When I left for college, it felt like I had to leave that comfort zone and take a leap of faith that everything would turn out just right. And that I wouldn’t fall too far.

It turned out though that I wouldn’t fall at all.

On day one of move-in my car pulled up to my new home for the next year, The Ledges. I had looked up all of The Ledges’ specifications online to know what I should and should not bring, yet I was still amazed to see how spacious and clean the rooms actually were.

My roommate, Allie, had already mostly organized all of her stuff into her corner and immediately dropped what she was doing to come say hi and meet my family. Right off the bat she was friendly, inviting, and engaged in getting to know me. I thought there is no way that everybody would be like this, that everybody would want to get to know me.

Within what seemed like seconds my entire car had been unloaded, and it seemed like only minutes later everything had been unpacked and put in its new place. Once my room was set-up, there was no longer an excuse for my parents to stay; it was time to say goodbye. I don’t know if anybody is ever truly ready to watch his or her parents walk away for the first time, but I was immediately able to turn around to see Allie smiling saying “So, what’s next?”.

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What was next was truly amazing. Within hours I had met at least 60 other students all of who were just as eager to get to know me as Allie had been. Throughout my first day in The Ledges I quickly gained a sense of home and wondered how so many friendly, talented, and smart students could be condensed into just one Residence Hall. With each quad containing two Honors students who had moved in early for our Honors Orientation we quickly built a strong Honors community that could have only been described as family.

Yet, as with any change, some feared the arrival of the two students in each room who would not be Honors Program members. Students worried that they would be rude or self-absorbed; they didn’t want the status quo that had so quickly been established to be flipped on its head. Yet they came, and contrary to many students’ concerns they contributed to the mutual respect and care that had been established by the Honors Program Orientation. It was as if everyone knew that in order to have an awesome year everyone had to pitch in.

And an awesome year it was. We laughed together. We cried together. We spent way too many nights up way too late for no good reason, and an equal number of nights up way too late trying to cram in groups of 10-20 for our BIO-101 Honors exam the next day. It felt too good to be true. How did I manage to find a place that matched the comfort level that I felt when at home with my family? How could I be lucky enough to have two homes, two families?

As with all things, there is always an end. Months flew by and all of a sudden we were all packing our bags for the last time as we stepped into the summer before our sophomore year. Yet those Ledges relationships have never faltered. It would not be too bold to say that 90% of the best friends that I have made at Quinnipiac came as a direct result from those days in The Ledges.

I could not be happier with my decision to accept the opportunity to live in the Honors Program Living Learning Community my freshman year, and if given the opportunity to hop in Doc Brown’s DeLorean I would not even hesitate to go back to August of 2012 and experience it all over again.

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