There’s no place like North.
I grew up in southern Illinois. It’s where I learned to read, write, speak, walk. It’s where I had my first, second and third heartbreaks. It’s where my family supported me daily. It’s where I discovered my faith.
I grew up there but I found myself in college.
Specifically, North Hall, a building with no extraordinary features. It is plain brick, two-stories and looks like any other building you would find on a college campus.
I lived there for three years and in those three years, that building taught me more about life than I could’ve ever learned anywhere else.
And as I sit here, in the lobby on my last ever duty night, I can’t help but think that all the memories and moments that are so near and dear to me wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for this building.
Here are some of my greatest memories and learned lessons.
1. New friendships can be formed regardless of likes, dislikes and similarities, when you live right down the hall from someone.
You may not think you have anything else in common except for a shared bathroom or an annoyance for the loud girls in your hall, but people are complex. The ones you think are complete opposites of you, may end up being some of your favorite people.
2. You don’t have to go out to turn up.
Some people get excited about college so they can go to parties and get turnt. I went to college so I could sit in my dorm room, drink sparkling grape juice and watch Gossip Girl with my roommate.
3. There is no higher calling than to care and love for other people, and I got to do that when I was hired as an RA.
College is a great time to be selfish. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of instant and self-gratification. The moment that changed for me was when I was entrusted to look after 20 or more girls for an entire year. It’s also when I felt the most purpose.
4. The greatest friends can be found just by taking that first step into an apartment for some cookies and coffee.
I will never forget the fear of my freshman year. A quiet little introvert, trying to fit into a new place. Luckily, my Resident Director is the best at her job. From the first moment I walked into her apartment, I knew a friendship would form and I am ever so glad it did.
5. I learned the delicate balance between being loving and being stern. Even if that means helping someone unclog their toilet at 2 am.
My number one job was unclogging toilets. Ok, maybe not. But it seemed like it! Regardless of the unspeakable things I’ve had to clean up or deal with, the biggest lesson I learned was that nothing done in love is done in vain.
6. After waiting for him for two years, I got to meet and learn about the guy I am in love with now.
We saw each other the first day of RA training. He was laughing and enjoying the company of people, per usual. I was in my pajamas and eating a burrito, per usual. North Hall housed RA training and gave us the best excuse to get to know each other.
7. I made lifelong friendships with girls who lived in my hallway and drank my tea.
I will never forget the day that someone knocked on my door just to ask for some tea. I had been trying vigorously hard to be known as “the-tea-and-coffee-lady.” She knocked on my door and made all my dreams come true. And then she invited her friends, who are now my friends. Win.
8. I met someone from a different country. She was my roommate and she became my best friend.
I love my little Irish-Peruvian MK. Getting a roommate is a pretty scary situation. Is she crazy? Is she messy? Is she going to name her teddy bears after me and watch me while I sleep? Well, I got lucky.
9. I learned the best way to get through a seven hour duty night is to eat lots of junk food and watch lots of movies with all the people who make your life great.
I cannot count the number of pizzas I have eaten or the times I watched all the Lord of the Rings movies while on duty. It is an exponential number.
10. My ResLife team in North started off as basically strangers and ended up being some of my very best friends.
What do you get when you combine two extroverts, two introverts and one ambivert? Well, usually you would get an explosion of hatred and annoyance. But not this time. This time, you get happiness and friendship and love.
11. Most of all, I learned that it’s possible to have more than one home.
Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it. Sometimes I wanted to get out of there, sometimes I never wanted to leave. All the time it was a home away from home and the place I found the most comfort.
North Hall is a wonderful, magical place. It brings people together who are different in so many ways, and gives them a home.
It gave me a job.
It gave me a family away from family.
It gave me a deeper understanding of myself.
It gave me a solid foundation to grow in my faith.
It gave me the best three years of my life.
North Hall is just a building, but for me, it was so much more.
This blog appeared on theodysseyonline.com.