Monday, June 18, 2012

Brown Basement-dwelling

I just got back from the floor meeting in my dorms. We are The Bumblebees of bottom-floor Grad Center B, which means my floor mates and I live in the basement. After a long day and finally leaving the nest, barred windows, cement tiles, and a great view of the laundry room seemed a world away from Hotel Providence. This morning, after clunking my luggage down to the basement and  juggling around between the three different, easily-misplaceable keys, I opened the door to a single room.

Initially, I was disappointed to discover I'd be living without a roommate. Last year at Cornell I'd lived with three in a quad room, and we'd gotten along great, sharing fans, fridges, and a microwave. I'd been prepared for a similar experience, so I was surprised by the amount of personal space I have. I didn't feel as isolated after learning everyone in the Grad Center complexes lived in singles, so I was far from alone. This actually turned out to be for the better, since so many of us were lonely without a roommate, it gave us a chance to branch out and meet our floor mates.

I mostly keep my door open now, as we basement-dwellers like to visit around. While our grey walls and frigid single cells were designed by a famed prison architect (Flora the RA informed us the style was called brutalism), our concrete hallways echo with laughter (and not screams). I feel like I'm going to become really close with my floor mates. Our floor has girls from India to Tennessee, taking classes from Designing a Better Mousetrap to International Politics and Neuroscience. Brown did a great job keeping the residences diverse.

Besides the first group tour and orientation earlier in the morning following check-in, there was a separate one for students. I headed down with a group of girls I met on the second floor. After a warm welcome in the auditorium and some icebreakers, our RA Flora led our floor mates on a tour to all the places we needed to know on our stay, ending at the V-Dub Dining Hall.

We explored Thayer Street after dinner, and I introduced the girls to the fabulous burger joint where the Brown ILCers had just lunched a couple hours ago- unfortunately the last time we'd dine with Mr. Crosby. Lamb burgers, feta fries, and anticipation for the next chapter of our adventure kept me distracted from the difficulty of goodbye. Thayer was arrayed with eateries and little shops. We discovered an Indian store full or exotic imports and checked out some street vendors before finding our way back to campus for the ice cream social.

It become a real challenge when so much information is exchanged, you learn to nod along pretending to retain all the names, places, and bizarre course titles. Students from all over the world and every states minus Montana were gathered on the green. I can tell you that California was well-represented. So far, I've come across two students from Marin, one from Santa Barbara, one from San Francisco, and even a guy from Piedmont High in Oakland. There were of course like seven kids from LA, but that's far shy of the number of students from Hong Kong.

By 8:00 PM it was quite chilly. We broke from our penguin huddle and discovered the best way to stay warm was engaging in the communal events of frisbee and mass duck-duck-goose games. When darkness fell and it was time to retire to the dorm floor meetings I was muddy and content, having met and bonded with an amazing collective of people. I'm so glad to get a taste of the community at Brown, and these next three weeks are going to be great.

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