Hannah Croft is a journalism freshman and Mustang Daily freshman columnist.

I’m a freshman. So true to freshman fashion, I live in the dorms. No, not dorms, my resident adviser will tell you, but residence halls. I live in a refrigerator box-sized room with two other people. In theory that sounds horrendous, right? Right.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s funny is this wasn’t the initial plan. When I received my housing information in August, I had been assigned to live in Sierra Madre. Within 15 minutes I called University Housing and asked what had happened – I hadn’t added Sierra Madre to my preference sheet. University Housing told me they’d see what they could do to make it work, and apologized for the error.

A week before we left for school I received a phone call. A spot was now open in Trinity Hall. That spot was mine, and the rest is history.

Now when I walk downstairs in Trinity Hall each morning, I am greeted by the people I now call my family. The common room is my living room, the teeny-tiny kitchen is my kitchen. This large building filled with bite-sized rooms is my home.

Dorm life has easily been my favorite part of freshman year. But there are a few things I wish I had known before I threw myself into this exciting, fast-paced environment, and there are a few things I feel like I missed out on.

I wish I had known how to be creative with Campus Dining. There are so many ways to get creative when overcooked pasta becomes boring. Had I known that you could get a side of plain pasta to put in your salad, or that Sandwich Factory’s oatmeal tastes great with the berries I bought at Farmers’ Market last night, I would have been a lot happier fall quarter.

I wish I had started using my friends’ kitchens sooner. I just realized a lot of this revolves around food. But for me, good food and a place to cook it are the only things lacking in University Housing. Once or twice I’ve used my c0-columnist JJ’s Cerro Vista kitchen to bake cookies (usually it’s when I lose a bet or owe him something), and I don’t know why I haven’t taken advantage of the fact one of my closest friends has a kitchen with a stove, an oven and everything you need to make a family dinner. It’s doable, it’s easy and it’s fun when all your friends come together to cook (and do the dishes afterward).

I wish I had known how fast things change. When you live together, relationships and friendships are different. My friends are wonderful; I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But it’s insane how quickly friendships generate, deteriorate and magically reappear after some time apart. Someone might be your best friend for a week, and then you don’t get lunch together for two weeks after that. It’s strange, but understandable, especially in the fast-paced quarter system. As cheesy as it sounds, you have to know your real friends aren’t going to bail after a week, and things will just pick up where they left off after a lapse of dinner without them.

I wish I had known RAs mean it when they say “If we have to tell you again, we’re going to document you.” Those resident advisers mean business. If they say you’re being too loud, they definitely mean it. Then you get a nice little confidential letter detailing how loud you were that night and you have to write a paper and it’s not fun. I am not a fan of documentation.

I wish I had found my perfect study places. Now, I know where to study. I know that when I’m stressed I need to get away from my lovely redbrick home. But I reached that conclusion with trial and error. A lot of error. So when you move in, study in places that feel right for you. If you need to get off campus, get off campus, because it’s not worth it to struggle through studying in your room if your grades are suffering.

I wish I had known how fast the year flies by. Here I go getting all cheesy again but the fact of the matter is I’m more than halfway finished with my time in the dorms. I don’t know what it is about this place, but I don’t want to leave. I like the people, I like that I can hear laughter erupting from the common room. I like that when I come home on a Saturday night my roommate makes me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’ve built a life here, and it’s crazy to think that just as quickly as I established myself as part of my hall, I will have to say goodbye.

I know not everyone loves dorm life. But I do, and I feel pretty lucky. I hope everyone and anyone who lives in the dorm can have as amazing of an experience as I have had.

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