First impressions: Dorm living

For freshmen living at college, the prospect of dorm life can be intimidating. However, the first impressions of a few Hope College freshmen after a couple weeks of dorm life is quite positive. Three freshman girls, all from different dorms, each speak to the vibrant sense of community they feel here at Hope. 

For Isabel Santos (’23), living in Dykstra has been a positive experience so far. “The cluster-type living made it easy to make friends right away,” Santos said. She feels a strong sense of community among the women of Dykstra, not just from her cluster, but from dorm events the hall attends together like the Durfstra beach day or the Neon Block Party. Santos also speaks to the community that comes from living around the same few women. “Doing routine things with the same few people makes you feel closer to them,” Santos said. Things like brushing your teeth or doing homework in your room with the door open can lead to connections or community you might not expect. 

“I feel like everyone in Dykstra is super welcoming and helpful and not judgmental, which is a lot like what Hope says they represent,” said Santos. Living in a shared space where people are starting to become closer and closer friends has made living in Dykstra an interesting experience. 

“The second day at Hope, girls in my hall said, ‘Let’s play some board games and get to know each other,’” said Kayli Garza (’23). Garza lives in Van Vleck, a small hall in the middle of campus that houses 36 women. Garza enjoys talking to all of the women in her hall; they even have a group chat and frequently go to meals together. On Sundays they make breakfast together, and they’ve already had some movie nights. This community has been a fun surprise for Garza, because she didn’t know what to think about her dorm before she moved in. 

“There’s no pictures online of what it looks like inside, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Garza. The uncertainty of what lay in her future made Garza a little nervous for the first few days at Hope. However, once everyone started to get to know each other, community developed fast and now the girls all check up on each other. “I miss the little things about home,” Garza said. Despite feeling a little homesick, however, she says the community she has found in Van Vleck has made the transition from home in Texas to college in Michigan easier. 

For Ally Smith (’23), the choice of where to live wasn’t one she really got to make: she participates in the Phelps Scholars program, so she lives in Scott Hall with all of the other members of the group. “There’s a great community here because there’s only about 90 of us,” Smith said. She enjoys living in a smaller hall because everybody was able to learn each other’s names quickly, and now she can see people she knows all over campus. 

It’s challenging, though, to be social all the time. “I really like being alone and I don’t get that very often here,” said Smith. While admitting that it may be better to be social and talk to others, Smith enjoys being completely alone for things like studying. The other freshmen have also begun to face the challenges of group living. “It’s weird to not have all the privacy you may want or need,” said Garza. “People just walk in [to our room] sometimes,” said Santos. Other than privacy, Smith and Santos both cite the lack of air conditioning in the dorms as a challenge of living at Hope. When temperatures get up to 85 degrees, the rooms begin to feel stuffy and hot. 

However, overall, living in the dorms has been a good source of community for these freshmen. Group living has brought friends and fun experiences to the first few weeks at Hope. 


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