Opinion: Residence Hall Life-A Grad Student’s Perspective

By Michael Marconi


As a graduate student living in the dorms with undergraduates, I have experienced many new changes in dorm life. When my family helped me move in about three weeks ago, I saw no families helping others move in. Everybody was independent. This trend is commonly seen in some of the modern television shows that I detest (but on occasion somewhat enjoy) in which the family unit is no longer cohesive. Am I exaggerating to satisfy a “golden age” feeling of sadness when everything is perfect in those hallowed historical time periods that came ahead of me? Not entirely.

All throughout the first week was music, music, music. It’s like the guys on the men’s floor had to compare which of them had the bigger stereo. Even during the practice fire drill, somebody put on music. In the common room, the TV is always loud, all the lights are on when nobody is there, and the computer chairs are turned sideways and not tucked in. Clothes are left in the washing machine all day long, nobody dares to play the pianos, and food near the trash bins is not thrown out properly. And yet they looked at me like I was strange? Hmm. Maybe they need to take a course in etiquette. I’d volunteer to teach it.

It’s hard to put dorm socializing into words. The more you scream, the more you join the populars. The more you stay quiet and dream, the less existent you seem. I was walking in the hallway the other night to my room, and all I said was excuse me to a bunch of female students that were leaving a guy’s room. They said absolutely nothing. It’s strange because I dress nice and wear cologne. I was a bit drowsy after a long day of studying and classes, but that’s about it. Usually I get a nice remark like, “Hello. It’s all good. No problem.” Nothing. All three of them. Silence. One of the three quickly moved her arm in disgust so that it would not bump into mine. I cried a little inside, but then watched a movie and felt better as I usually do with my “glass film menagerie,” if you will.

Maybe it’s my upbringing. My parents are from different countries. Perhaps it’s the 90s movies and music that are still stuck with me after all this time and that I still miss. But I feel it is most likely the age difference. I am 31 (almost 32). I am precisely 14 years ahead of all these undergraduates. I’m not saying I’m better than them. I really enjoy getting to relive my days in the dorms again, this time with a fresher and more professional approach. I remember how I felt when I was like them, and I know it’s difficult. But come on people! If the founding fathers were able to go to college with no electricity, we all should be able to be a bit nicer to each other. To quote the comedian Dennis Miller, “we don’t have to love each other, we don’t even have to agree with each other, but we should respect each other.” That’s all I want.

That’s not to say that there are not nice students. In the cafeteria and in my classes, I have made a group of many friends, mostly women and one guy who is an international student. I am very happy so far and enjoying my Wilson experience very much. I would like future students to read this and see if they feel the same.

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