Oh, it is that time of year again. No longer can I wander freely the halls of the dorm, like the ghost of an old professor, just me and the draft and my billowing white bathrobe. All the girls are moving back into the dorm, and my role as an RA is ramping up again.
It seems so long ago that I started my first year as an RA in an undergrad dorm at World's Best School. And yet, I survived my first year, set up my room, and even managed to run a few events, large and small. And then I headed into my second year, feeling much more confident than the first.
And now - well, now I'm an old hand.
I have seven new freshmen, and some shuffling among the older girls. The biggest change this year is that the dining plan has become mandatory - so all the girls will be paying for all-you-can-eat food in the dining hall. I'm pretty sure this will drive a lot less cooking in the floor kitchens. So maybe, it will be easier for them to keep the kitchens clean? One can dream. :)
And the change in dining also drives a change in the way I run events. Normally I would just put out food, send an email, and girls would show up at my door. But food might not be such a big draw anymore, if they already have food available in the dining hall for every meal. But this is also exciting - it means I can do more creative things. It has always been very hard to do "outing" type events. I.e., girls are used to just walking down the hall for cookies, and aren't motivated to go off-campus. But if the girls become used to events being non-food-based, maybe the turnout will be higher for things like: going to museums, going to the premier of a movie (which we actually did for Harry Potter last year, and that went well), perhaps a picnic by the river. Maybe go out for dim sum on the weekends in Chinatown, or attend one of the many festivals in the Boston area.
The other RAs in my dorm have had good success in the past with doing weekly TV-watching events. If the majority of girls on the floor are fans of Glee, or Bones, or NCIS, then you can designate that as the floor TV show, host a viewing party each week, and provide munchies. The girls talk to each other during commercial breaks, and it's a low-stress, cheap way to run events. So that's a possibility as well.
In any case, I am looking forward to the year, but I am missing the quiet. Plus, my toothpaste got swiped. Who swipes toothpaste out of somebody's bathroom kit? I mean, really. And already there was an angry email (to the entire, dorm-wide email list, no less) about food being stolen. Sigh...
I try to keep my door open when I'm home, but it takes mental energy for me to be social. In the summers, I know that once I get home, I don't have to interact with anyone else that day if I don't want to. Now I have to be prepared for interruptions when girls stop by. But, I have a good group of girls, so the interruptions should be pleasant ones. I just have to switch gears and be sociable and friendly... come on, Miss Outlier, it's not that hard to mingle a little bit... :)
Highlights from the freshmen so far? One couldn't decipher how to turn on the showers, one couldn't figure out how to open her door with the room key. Three haven't ever seen snow. And, one has never seen a pumpkin.
So, bring on school, snow, and pumpkins!