Oh! The Places You’ll Go: How Living in a Dorm Helped Me Transition to College Away from Home

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I had never been one to stay away from my family for a long time. Deciding to leave Puerto Rico and head to Manhattan for college challenged me more than any other experience I’d had.

When it comes to my family I put them above anything else When I realized that I wouldn’t see them as much as I normally do, I got hit with a rough reality. And, it hit me hard. But, I had to do it because I had unknown experiences to make and new places to see.

As Dr. Seuss says, I had brains in my head, feet in my shoes and I was off to great places.

When I arrived at my dorm for the first time, I realized that I moved in a full week before the official move in day with the international students.

With only six students living on the floor, I didn’t mind the limited people to meet because I only went to my dorm to sleep. Most of the day I explored New York with my aunt. But when it came time for her to leave, reality settled in.

I was officially on my own.

I had a full day before the official move-in day and I still felt like a stranger to the big city and the dorms. I had spent most of my time out and when I was at the dorms I didn’t interact with anyone. When it came time to be alone, I didn’t know what to do with myself. For the next two nights I had the same problem. I began to get worried that this was going to become a reality for me. Would I spend most of my time alone? Would I make friends? Would this define my college experience?

I was terrified, but I was torn. I didn’t want to go back home. I worked so hard to get to college in the States, but if my college experience ended up like this I knew I wouldn’t make it.

The next day, I met my roommate for the first time on official move-in day. We’ve all heard those roommate horror stories and I got afraid I would live in that narrative. What if she was the complete opposite of me? What if we didn’t get along? What if she hated me? All of these thoughts flooded my brain. Apart from us taking a very awkward picture together, that first night went pretty well. We had dinner with friends she made during orientation and we all actually hit it off.

About three weeks later, I found myself in the RA office with my RAs, hall director and group of friends. As I looked around at the craziness that surrounded me—the music blasting, the fits of laughter and someone wearing a cowboy hat—I knew everything would work out.

And it did.

I surrounded myself with people who stayed with me through every step of my experience, who helped me through the rough times and who didn’t judge me for my tone of voice or mispronunciations. I got blessed with the best group of friends, RAs and hall director. We became a family and they all made my college experience thus far entirely better. New York became my home away from home.

I struggled a lot in those first three weeks. I came from a Hispanic background that most didn’t understand. I struggled with talking loud, which most people needed to get used to. I had to constantly clarify that I “spoke good English” because I went to a private school that taught everything in English except for Spanish class. I had to explain that I did not require a visa because my passport is, in fact, American. I dealt with everything that came from being an international student without really falling into that category. Despite all of this, I eventually got over it with the help of my wonderful, understanding group of friends, my support system back home and a lot of patience. At the end of the day, it made me unique.

Living at the dorms has been one of the best experiences I’ve had and I definitely recommend it to all my friends who go off to college. You really have an amazing sense of community.

Living in a dorm taught me so much. From simply doing my own laundry (which I still sometimes fail at) to adapting to new environments, I am constantly learning something new about New York and the people around me.

Even though it got hard at times, nothing compares to living in a dorm.

Avid reader, writer and lover of the Disney animated movie Hercules. Lover of pop culture. Freshman at the New York Institute of Technology, studying Advertising and Public Relations.

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