A Few Stories from Freshman Year

It is Friday morning as I’m writing this, the day after moving back home from my first year of college. I spent a long time yesterday evening unpacking boxes, putting clothes back in drawers, and reintegrating myself into the same room I’ve lived in for almost 20 years now.

I’ve only just now started this blog post because I debated what I wanted to do. I almost went ahead and did something normal and media-related, but it felt wrong not to commemorate the occasion. Especially after doing my Day One post, I felt like it wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t make a last day post. But then, my last day of college wasn’t very exciting. It was weird and sad and honestly, my Day One post was already a little bit weird and sad. That doesn’t define my freshman year of college at all… well, at least not totally.

So I thought instead I’d share a couple of stories from Freshman year. I hope you’ll enjoy this little trip through the year with me.

Room-muh-mate

You didn’t meet my roommate in my Day One post because she hadn’t moved in yet, but I cannot possibly talk about my college experience without talking about her and about the day we met.

I think I was sitting in the top bunk when I first met Sam. I had been out at Freshman Orientation, meeting the other members of my journalism scholarship group when she moved in, so I didn’t meet her family that day. I came into the room to find a new bedspread on the bed, and a hamper of clothing I didn’t recognize on the floor in front of the empty closet.

I climbed into my bed for… some reason, I can’t remember, maybe protection, and that’s when she walked in. I knew immediately I would like her because she immediately started talking. She introduced herself and immediately leaped into a conversation about our respective lives, with very little prompting on my part. I tend to get along well with people who don’t mind starting the conversation – I don’t always trust people to care what I have to say unless they actually seek out what I have to say first.

Sam is from South Dakota, though she’s lived just about everywhere you can imagine thanks to her dad’s time in the air force. Alaska, Texas, Japan…. and now Bloomington. She and I clearly had very different upbringings. She’s Catholic and serious about religion – the only RPS rule she broke the whole year was so she could keep her votive candle in her closet. I am… not any religion and the only RPS rule I broke was when I accidentally hoarded a pack of birthday candles for a few months. She moved around everywhere, and I stayed in one house my whole life.

We even look very different, mainly in stature. Sam is short and petite and I am neither. Sam has long, long hair (once upon a time down to her waist, but she cut it for Locks of Love) and I keep mine short.

So, obviously, we hit it off immediately. You know what they say about opposites.

She’s incredibly perceptive, a good feature not only for a business student but also for a friend. I remember the first night she met my boyfriend, the two of them immediately jumped into a conversation on the other’s politics. They kept at it for a scarily long time, me and my friend Molly standing behind them praying for it all to end amicably.

That night, as we laid in our respective beds, Sam spoke up. “You know, Kirby’s really smart. You have a real gem of a boyfriend.”

That’s Sam. She might disagree with you, but she’s not one to judge. She’s maybe a little messy, but she always kept her chaos to her corner, and would often do my dishes for me. And there were so, so many times that we aired our anxieties to each other. That was one thing we really had in common. Years of academic expectations made us jittery and nervous and it was amazing living with someone who understood how hard it was.

I’m so crazy lucky to have had Sam as a roommate. She’ll be living on TB2 with me again next year, but in a different room, and I’m so excited for another year getting to know her goofy, energetic, scarily business-savvy self.

Actually, on that last note, how about one last Sam story. Sam’s brand new laptop broke one day unexpectedly – it just wouldn’t turn on. A trip to Best Buy later, Sam discovered that a Windows update hadn’t reacted well to the laptop’s hardware and had fried it. It was nothing she could have helped, and yet she had to deal with mounds of Kelley School of Business homework without a laptop for a few days.

Apparently her laptop was insured, though. Her parents had purchased a deal with Best Buy that if it broke it would be fixed. But since her laptop couldn’t be fixed, the insurance was moot. This was a problem I would normally chalk up to bad luck and disregard, but Sam hopped on the phone and asked to speak with the manager of Best Buy. She calmly explained her situation, and talked about how the money she had spent on insurance hadn’t actually done anything to help her. And I listened as Sam got a refund on that insurance right then and there. It was almost a little frightening.

A kind and amazing roommate, but I’d be afraid to ever cross her in business dealings.

A Part of TB2

Being on a floor means you get to take part in a lot of floor activities, usually exclusive to the floor, obviously. Sometimes you also get to take part in building activities, because you’re a part of the building. Obviously.

However, there are always people on the floor and in the building who might not live there, but become a part of it anyway. One of those people was my boyfriend, Kirby.

Kirby lived in Collins, a Hogwarts-esque Indiana limestone palace a short roll down 10th Street from Teter, where I lived. During the weekdays I would sometimes finish class down around Collins and would eat dinner with Kirby in its grand buffet-style dining hall, then take the bus back to Teter for the evening. However, the buffet was closed from Friday to Sunday, so on those three days, Kirby made the trek up to Wright for dinner, which was the dining hall adjacent to Teter.

So usually, Kirby was at Teter every night from Friday to Sunday, so he became a familiar face around TB2. On several occasions, other residents on the floor would point at him, sitting in our lounge, and say “Do you live here? Am I supposed to know your name?’

Because of this, Kirby got involved in a lot of our floor events. We had a monthly ice cream party. Kirby paid $6 at the beginning of the year just like the rest of us on the floor to take part. The week before finals there were free dinners offered each day from a different local ethnic restaurant for our building, and Kirby took part in two of those meals.

Though, the real test of Kirby’s belonging on our floor was the day we voted for our Boisen council members. They offered free pizza to everyone who voted, and Kirby was there anyway, so he tagged along and voted as well. He handed his completed ballot to my RA Cat, who knew he didn’t live on our floor, and she took it without a problem.

I mean, it made sense. There was politics, free pizza, and me all in one place. Of course Kirby belonged.

Power Shower

One of the great shames (or prides, pick your poison) of going to school at Indiana University is the song “This is Indiana.” It was created in 2011 by two tragically white frat boys and it… well, it sounds like a song made by two tragically white frat boys. Of course, it blew up in 2011 and became an infamous song at IU, played at football games and basketball games and every kind of games, parties, and also ironically by us cynical honors kids.

But I’ll never forget one night I heard the song. It was 2 a.m. and I was in one of the restrooms. The bathrooms at Teter are unique – they’re all single stalls with a shower behind a locked door, no communal showers for us, thank you ma’am. However, the sound in showers carries quite well into the hallway and surrounding bathrooms.

Now it’s pretty typical to hear people listening to music in the shower, and often the music carries through to the hall. But I wouldn’t call it very common to hear music past midnight.

But on this particular night, at 2 a.m., I heard the shower turn on in the bathroom next to me, and then right after the distinctive opening notes of “This is Indiana.” I stood in the bathroom dumbfounded. Someone was listening to “This is Indiana” in the shower. At 2 a.m. Loudly.

Later I was talking to someone and found that they too had had a run-in with the “This is Indiana” showerer at 2 a.m. It was not an isolated incident.

Did I ever find out who was playing that song at that time? As a matter of fact, I did. It was the same person who, on a different night, was playing polka music in the shower, just as loudly.

But I guess I may have caused similar stories, since I was definitely listening to my true crime podcast a few times in the shower when there were some more, um, grisly descriptions. Or there were the many, many times I played my 80s synthpop/new wave Spotify playlist in the shower. I guess we all have our weird shower soundtracks.

The Sledding Hill

For our six-month anniversary, Kirby and I went to an on-campus production of Heathers, a musical we both really love. It was amazing and we were incredibly lucky to get in (we were among the last five people crammed into the tiny little studio theater, and we had to sit on the balcony above the stage behind the actors).

It was a snowy evening in January, and when I returned to Teter from the show, I found a group of my friends from the floor attempting to sled. Trouble was, there were no steep enough hills behind Teter, so they had essentially found a gradual slope and were taking turns throwing themselves onto the inflatable sleds they had bought from Target and seeing how far they could make it.

As I approached, they beckoned me over, and they demonstrated their technique. They started three or four feet behind the sled, took a running start, and body slammed onto the sled, causing it to rumble down the hill in a somewhat anticlimactic way.

Not to be outdone, though, I joined in, taking turns cruising at fathomable speeds down a gentle slope. At that point it was like 11 p.m., possibly later, so the occasional car passing by must have thought we were crazy. Or drunk. Or both.

We were not drunk, I’ll assure you that. Well, at least I wasn’t. It was fun all the same.

Wally Ball

Across a street, a parking lot, and a set of train tracks from Teter stands the formidable SRSC, a big building full of gyms, exercise machines, an olympic swimming pool, and all manner of other fitness-related stuff for students to use. It’s an amazing building, and I would often go there after class to work out.

But the SRSC also became home to another floor tradition of ours. Wally ball.

Wally ball is basically volleyball with walls, so if the ball bounces off the wall it’s still in play. Simple enough, in principle, but in practice it’s crazy. People went to the hospital for this game, and yet we played it so many times all the same. (Just for a small fracture, by the way. It wasn’t that dangerous. Probably.)

We had a group chat that people could join if they wanted to play, and our Wally Ball sessions tended to start late at night. The SRSC closed at 11:30 p.m. most nights and we usually didn’t make it to the Wally Ball court until like 10 p.m. thanks to homework. So we were generally leaving the SRSC just as (or after) the big scary cage doors came down to signal its closure.

I’m not a particularly athletic person, but I started to get the hang of the activity, but there were still a lot of fun mishaps. Though I think I’ve mostly improved to the point I don’t usually just watch a ball land next to me, even toward the end of the year, I still couldn’t quite get the hang of returning the ball once it had bounced off the wall. But there were a couple of excellent, shining moments where I sort of felt like an athletic superstar.

Pool Party

My final story also takes place in the SRSC, in the impressively large Olympic-sized swimming pool. Somehow, my group of floor friends heard that Sam didn’t know how to swim, so every time we passed the pool we would go “Hey, we should go swimming one day and teach Sam to swim!”

Of course, because swimming takes a lot more planning than just a 10 p.m. group text to play Wally Ball, we never managed to get a group together to go until the day before I moved out at the end of the year.

And the pool is big. I guess if you’re used to pools that big, it’s standard, but when you’re just in a group of friends in your little Torrid floral bikini with the IU towel you just took out of its packaging for the first time after hoarding it in your dorm room for the entire year, it’s a bit humbling.

As it turned out, Sam did know how to swim. She had a strong doggy paddle, similar to how I learned to swim, the signature of people who were never officially taught but learned themselves. We started out the day in the shallow end of the pool, tossing basketballs into the little basketball hoops on the side. (Thankfully, only two people got conked in the head by the basketball, though I was one of the two.)

Then somebody mentioned that the diving pool and a few of the diving boards/platforms were open, and we quickly migrated.

The diving pool was bathtub-warm, probably because if you’re going to be jumping off a platform 33 feet in the air the shock to your system is probably enough without also adding in cold water. Oh, and that’s not the story. We did not jump 33 feet, because that was closed to the general populace, but we did jump a respectable 9 feet 10 inches into the water below.

Earlier that day we had been talking about roller coasters and amusement parks, so I had a craving for adrenaline that the jump fulfilled perfectly. When you jumped from the platform, you hung in the air for just a second longer than you would suspect.

And it was fun. And that’s the whole story. And in telling all these stories, I’ve realized most of them don’t have much of a punchline. They’re just… good and fun. I’m glad that that’s the kind of stories I have to tell you all from my freshman year.

There’s certainly some bad things that happened too – it’s school, and school is stressful. But most of the real quote unquote stories I have are good things that happened with good friends. I’m lucky.

I’m looking forward to the summer. Hopefully lots of fun things will be coming on this blog in the months ahead! Watch this space!

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One thought on “A Few Stories from Freshman Year

  1. Loved reading of your adventures and it brought back sweet memories of my own college days. Thanks for sharing a piece of your experience with me!

    Liked by 1 person

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