Sunday, September 5, 2010

The RAing Begins - Again!

It's a new school year, and my second year as an RA! After a whole summer of the dorm being empty (and do you know how creepy that is? ack!), the girls are all back. I had a bunch of seniors graduate, some people moved to other floors, a whole gaggle of girls moved to my floor so all of them could live together, and I have six new freshmen. Twenty-nine girls in all.

Last year, I was really nervous as the school year began. It took me a long time to get comfortable. I just didn't know what my role was, or how I fit into the girl's lives. As I said, there were a bunch of seniors, and they already had established social habits and circles of friends, and didn't really need me. Somehow I always felt as if I was intruding. And it also didn't help that I had trouble remembering names and faces. Because the girls didn't have many issues (not that I'm complaining - hey, makes my job easy!) often I wouldn't see them on a regular basis. Add in the fact that there are a lot of them, and many look similar (maybe it's racist, but I have trouble telling Asian girls and Indian girls apart sometimes), and they all DRESS similarly (jeans and T-shirt, it's the college uniform!), well it's no wonder I would forget names!

But this year, it's so much more natural. So much easier of an experience.

I realized it was different when I went to training day. Last year it was all new information, especially since I didn't do my undergrad at World's Best School - I felt like I was learning a whole new culture. But this year, it's familiar. Comfortable. I could even answer questions from the new RAs (I have three friends who just became RAs, and it was a pleasure showing them the ropes). Ah, I thought, this is how it's supposed to be.

And I no longer feel the strange urge to hide when meeting the new girls. This year, I greeted all the girls as they arrived, introducing myself with ease and confidence. Two weeks ago, I met four of my six new freshmen. They were chatting it up in the kitchen (which is good, I approve!). They were comparing which ones had turned 18 already. Aw, how cute. :) They will grow past that quickly...

So now I'm just enjoying the fun. I have a great bunch of girls. Some highlights so far:

1) I'm actually six months younger than one of the seniors on my floor, I discovered... not that I told her that!

2) I love watching the freshmen explore their independence. There is all the mile-a-minute talking of the outgoing ones, trying to adjust and fit in with all the new relationships begin formed. The shy advances of the introverted ones, adjusting to life as an adult.

3) Over the summer, another RA and I started a garden on the rooftop of the dorm. I smile when I see the freshmen exploring the dorm excitedly, and even the returning girls are enthusiastic when they find the garden surprise.

4) Once freshman girl came to me, very worried, carrying a wrapped half of a watermelon. "Miss Outlier," she said, "Is this watermelon okay to eat?" Confused, I replied, "Well I assume so - why do you ask?" "Because," she said, "The sell by date is three days ago, so I don't know if it has gone bad!" "Well does it look bad?" I asked. "I don't know what it would look like if it was spoiled!" she cried, "My mother always tells me when food is okay to eat!"

Okay, rule one... if the melon has no mold and smells okay, it is fine. And three days after the sell date is not nearly long enough to worry about. :) Ah, life lessons...

5) Hurricane Earl came through a few days ago. It was only a Category 1 storm by the time it got here, but that didn't stop one girl from asking me, "Should we sleep in the hallway to be away from the windows in case the glass breaks?" No, sweetheart, it will be okay... it's just rain.

6) I was sitting on my bed, when one girl came in gingerly carrying her computer. "Miss Outlier, help!" she wailed, "My Mac froze up, and I was in the middle of making my resume, and I don't want to lose all that work, and I don't know how to use a Mac, and it's a brand new computer, and what do I DO?" Whew! Deep breath. Save, force quit, restart. Ta-da! Miss Outlier: Resident Mac expert.

So the bottom line is, all the freshmen seem to be orienting well. Miss Outlier is orienting well. Let the school year begin!

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