Climbing the housing ladder: Why I’ll never be alone with good friends

Two years ago, when I moved into Illini Tower as a freshman, I had enough nervous butterflies for the entire student population. I had only been away from home a few times — a weeklong journalism camp in high school, and a school trip to Australia for 12 days. To put it simply, the concept of living away from home terrified me. Although my college roommate and two suitemates had gone to high school with me, I still felt uneasy about being away from my family, my pets and my big cozy bedroom.

Luckily, other than lots of homework, I didn’t have too many responsibilities when it came to taking care of myself. I had a meal plan where I could have two meals per day, an extremely helpful resident adviser and even a study room where I could do my homework (and print it out for free). Having these things to help me along the way definitely made the process of leaving home less overwhelming.

At the beginning of my freshman year I also went through recruitment and joined my sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi. I made close friends in the sorority whom I could talk to and share new experiences with. They came over to Illini Tower all the time, and we would get ready for barn dances, formals and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Since I had a good amount of space in my room, it became a popular hangout spot.

As the year went on, and we became closer, they became my greatest support system away from home. I still talked to my parents regularly, but at school, these were the people I would go to when I needed anything.

This year, I live in the sorority’s chapter house with the same friends who helped me through my first year away from home. I am extremely comfortable here, being able to share the entire house with three of my best friends and other new friends that I have made along the way. One of the best things about living in a sorority house is knowing everyone I live with. When I lived in Illini Tower, it was very hard to know everyone, considering how many people lived there.

At the house, it’s a much more homey environment. I still get meals here, my favorite being “Bagel Bar” on Fridays, when everyone in the house, including out-of-housers, can come enjoy bagels and soup. I always look forward to it because everyone can be together in the company of delicious food.

Our RA and House Director, also known as our “house moms,” Jordan and Holly, also make living in the house feel like home. Holly brings her adorable one-year-old son, Jackson, to the house every day. We have dubbed Jackson our “House Baby” and, as you can imagine, he is never starved for attention.

And now, next year, I am moving on to my first apartment. I will be with three of my best friends from Alpha Epsilon Phi, but it’s still nerve-racking to think about how many new responsibilities I will now have.

My main concern for next year is, of course, making my own food. I’m hoping I will learn enough cooking over the summer so I can make things other than boxed pasta and peanut butter and jelly.

It will also be weird not having someone looking after me in some official capacity. My days of being taken care of by an RA or a house mom will, sadly, be over. However, I am comforted to know that I will be watched over by the friends I am living with. I’m nervous to be on my own, but I will never be fully on my own, because I have them.

Abby is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]