An update from Ann Batenburg, Faculty in Residence (FiR) for the Virginia-Snider Residential Commons:
November 11, 2013
Whenever I tell someone about what I am doing here in the residence hall, the first question they ask is, “What’s it like living with students?” As if the average undergraduate is a life form from another planet. After about two and a half months now, I have an answer worth sharing.
First of all, I am more worried about disturbing them than I am worried about being disturbed. Though there is an occasional explosion of silly laughter from the hallway, most of the time it is very quiet in here. I can hear a toilet flush above me, and I can hear the conversations of those walking past my home outside every once in a while. I could be in any apartment building in any town, except this apartment building has unusually polite and studious neighbors. Except on game day, of course. Few normal apartment buildings have a huge block party going on outside their door six Saturdays each fall. One either has to join them or vacate the premises completely. There is no in-between. Best to join!
Second, we are finding a rhythm to the semester. The university and RLSH staff has so much programming during the first six weeks of the semester that it would be difficult to add much independently as a FiR. I started my Sunday Night Snacks right away to establish the routine, but that was nearly the only programming I did for the first month that was really all mine – if anything is really all mine. The RAs continue to be incredibly supportive, helpful and absolutely delightful. I feel like I have made several new, good friends in the RAs and RCD.
For the rest of that first month, I was mostly a part of a team that planned programming and participated in other events that were already on the calendar (like Drag Bingo). The experienced Mustangs are still getting used to their schedules, working hard in new classes, and getting back in touch with friends missed over the summer, while the first years are still rather wide-eyed and overwhelmed after six weeks. They are starting to get their sea legs now. By next semester, I am sure they will be just fine! Now I am finding that programming will mostly end after Thanksgiving because students will be full-on studying for finals and finishing up end-of-the-semester projects. Food will still be provided on a regular basis – lots of “study break” programming planned, but nothing too taxing. It has gone so fast! I have, on average, done “stuff” with students around three times each week. I will explain the kinds of things I am doing more in a future post.
Finally, I’m finding that I really love my new neighborhood. It’s like any neighborhood, really. I stop to chat with my neighbors when we are out wandering around or heading to class – it’s not quite over the back hedge when we’re doing yard work, but it has the same effect. I have started going to Dedman more often to exercise. I have figured out how to get to the Katy Trail on my bike and have procured a bike locker, which serves as a garage of sorts, so I no longer have to park my bicycle in my extra bedroom. I go to more things on campus, because I am right here. Elizabeth Gilbert did a reading at the church the other night. I have attended student performances at Meadows. I have gone Boulevarding far more often than I would have done if I had to drive here. I have a party with the students every Sunday night, which I love, and though my introverted self is stretched after ten or so weeks, I am finding time to be alone, to meditate, and to relax. My favorite thing to do, honestly? I can walk to the Seven-Eleven to pick up a gallon of milk when I am out. I can walk almost everywhere. There have been a few weeks during which I have not even laid eyes on my car and have forgotten where I parked it. The commute is awesome.
It feels very normal at this point to “live with students.” I have a new place to live that is mostly just like every other place I have lived, except my neighbors are a hell of a lot smarter than most people. So far, so good! If you have a specific question, do leave it in a comment!