Middle Earth Dorm Bonding: Where Love is Made Visible
Every time I give a tour of UCI and pass by Middle Earth, I always like to describe the experience as a very large slumber party. Although a majority of the time I only use that comparison to explain dorm life to middle and elementary school students, having been experiencing my first few months as a Resident Advisor (RA) in Middle Earth, I can now accurately confirm that comparison to be quite true, actually.
As a first year student, it can be nerve wracking to come into college with little to no friends, a new environment and an overwhelming sense of freedom. But the great comfort that living in the dorms gives new students is the fact that nearly everyone else is feeling the exact same way. Because of this, so many first years are excited and eager to meet new people and create friendships, which only leads to amazing bonding and fun events within your dorm hall, housing community and UCI as a whole!
A large portion of bonding events happen during Welcome Week, the first week before classes officially start. Around UCI’s campus, ASUCI and Student Services plan plenty of events that are open to all students such as the Anteater Involvement Fair to discover clubs and campus organizations, a huge concert in the middle of UCI called Aldrich Park After Dark and even our infamous world record-breaking attempts (this year was the largest game of balloon tag and no surprise: we broke the world record!). All of these events give a little taste as to what UCI holds for the rest of the school year so it is always encouraged that first years grab their hallmates and go out to explore. You truly never know who you’ll meet and bond with!
However, once the craziness of Week 0 ends and classes begin, you may think that all the fun ends with it, but luckily, that isn’t the case when you live in the dorms.
The housing communities also make sure to create their own events for residents throughout the year as well. In Middle Earth, we have two committees dedicated to designing and hosting these programs, both socially and academically. Community Council, who works as the community’s student government, is the primary social program organizer for all of the residents in Middle Earth. And the other, Academic Community Excellence programmers (or ACE for short), works hard to provide residents with academic resources and promote student well-being and success inside and out of the classroom.
And along with all of these amazing events and programs available to first year students, I would still argue that a majority of the memories, inside-jokes, bonding and good times happen within your dorm hall.
As an RA, our job is help create and foster a safe, fun and loving environment to allow our residents to feel as if their hall is a home away from home. We plan programs that meet the needs of our residents, whether that be academically, mentally, socially or creatively, in the hopes that our residents can gain new perspectives and friendships while transitioning into college life. Between paint sessions, slime-making, karaoke nights and more, bonding with your hallmates is almost inevitable if you live in the dorms. It kind of just happens.
It’s not everyday that a group of residents drive around Irvine at 11:30pm in an attempt to buy 1,000 chicken nuggets...except when you live in the dorms, that might just be your average Saturday night. (True story by the way! But actually, they failed. They were only able to buy 400.)
But what I think makes dorm life the most special is the fact that through both the high and low points of your first year, you have an entire support system of others to help you through it. Don’t get me wrong, the formal programs are great and definitely help enhance the dorm experience, however, I’m a firm believer in that it’s the little things that count.
So much of bonding between students happens by just living their daily lives, whether that be going to dinner together, watching movies or pulling all-night cram sessions the day before a midterm. Some of my favorite memories with my residents so far has been just through studying, talking with our face masks on and watching Riverdale every Wednesday night.
Just like one big sleepover.