Friendships at Rice

I used to be really good at making new friends, way back when I was six or seven and a carefree elementary school student. It was easy to walk up to someone I didn’t know and just start talking and be best friends five minutes later. Over time, I think I’ve lost my touch at becoming friends with everyone I meet, or just making friends at all. The last time I really had to make new friends was freshman year of high school. After that, I stuck with the people I knew for the next four years.

Getting to college was a jarring experience in many ways, but especially in the friend department. Suddenly I had to start over and do the whole “making friends” process from scratch. I thought it was going to be easy, that I would make my lifelong friends in a couple of weeks. When that didn’t happen, I started to worry. Why didn’t I have the picturesque group of friends that seems to be displayed on college brochures and in teen movies? I’m not going to lie; it was difficult my first semester without a solid group of friends, especially when I could see other people forming them right before my eyes.

But this semester, something clicked. I decided to spend more time with my friend from another residential college and started to get to know the people there. That decision was one of the best I’ve made at Rice, because she is now my closest friend here and I’m getting closer to the other girls at her residential college. With them, I’ve started to feel like I belong somewhere, even if that somewhere isn’t at Wiess (my residential college).

Coming to Rice, I thought that I could only be close friends with the people in my own residential college because that’s what I had seen whenever I visited. However, I’ve since discovered that the residential college system shouldn’t limit who your friends are. There are ten other colleges full of people to get to know, and maybe some of those people will become your lifelong friends. That being said, if you do find your group at your residential college, that’s amazing too. You will find people with whom you feel at home, and whether or not those people are from your own residential college doesn’t matter all that much.

One Semester Later

After spending three and a half amazing weeks back home in New Zealand, I started off my second semester at Rice walking into my dorm room to be warmly greeted by roommate, Oland, and suitemates, Diego and Ranferi.

Just one semester ago, we begun as three complete strangers who had not known of each other’s existences for the past 18 years. Born and raised in different countries and cities, the only thing we really had in common was the pursuit of an academic career at Rice.

But over a semester of getting to know each other’s pasts, presents, and futures, we’re starting off our second semester at Rice as a combined unit instead of four individuals. We do homework, have late night talks, complain about our problems, celebrate our successes, host prospective students, play sports, coordinate napping times, and so much more, all together.

In all honesty, I have no idea how Rice got it so right. With just a few filled out forms that gave an extremely vague and general gist of our interests and personalities, they managed to pick four students to room together who would slowly become one unit.

I’m so blessed to have met the people of Lovett 505 and 506 and cannot thank Rice enough for helping me do so.

 

Perfect Group Photos

     The days leading up to the start of my freshman year were nerve wracking. I was terrified of moving away from home. After years of living on the same street, in the same house, with the same group of friends, I never thought I would be able to make connections with the people around me. Now my phone is littered with group photos from my first semester here and not only do I have friends, I have a family here.

It all started with my roommate and my floor. A family was already built for me where I lived on Brown 2nd – we even had a floorsgiving together! I could not be more grateful for those that live around me.

Brown College’s 2nd Floor Floorsgiving

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Wonderful Owl Communities

Yesterday at lunch, I was sitting with my RA (residential assistance), and he asked me what I love most about Rice during my first two months of life here. I thought for a while and answered, the community. Rice provides incredible communities for students to find their places and prosper. For me, the most important communities I belong to are the residential college and the academic community.

 

Some people say that the dormitories at Rice are not dormitories, but colleges. I say they are not colleges, but home. Before I came to Rice, I heard tons of nice things about the residential college system. After I arrived and started the fantastic O-Week, I finally realized what a unique and splendid life experience that the residential college offers. The one thing that I love most about it is that I never feel alone here. Whenever I feel bored or wanted to hang out with friends, all I have to do is go downstairs to the pool table or the lounge, and I can always find friends to play and chill with. Although I have been here for only two months, I already feel attached to my college. The residential college gave me a smooth and happy transition to my university life.

 

The academic community here is also wonderful. Students and faculty at Rice treat academics with seriousness. During work hours, students work hard to achieve their goals. The weeks around midterms are quite stressful for me, but my stress was cleared out quickly by classmates, TAs (teaching assistance), and the professors. In each class I can find friends to work with and talk about the class. Because students are all randomly assigned to residential colleges, I can always find people in my college that are in the same classes. Besides the study groups that I can find right next to me, the assistance provided by the faculty is essential as well. The TAs and professors for each class are ready to answer all the specific questions you have about the class. What if I have concerns about my majors and future academic plans? The academic advisors are there to talk to and they will help you plan your semester and your future.

Full-Time Student, Part-Time Worker

As a college student, I already have a lot of responsibilities on my plate, ranging from academics to my extracurriculars to maintaining strong relationships with my friends. Another one of these responsibilities is my job. Last summer, I worked for OpenStax, a non-profit organization that utilizes openly-licensed resources to make free textbooks for students. I really enjoyed working here, as I was able to combine my passion for education accessibility and affordability with my interest in marketing and communications, all while making friendships along the way. When I found out that I had the opportunity to continue working here when the academic year started, I was ecstatic!

When the semester first started, I had a bit of difficulty managing my time so that I could best balance my schoolwork with my job, other extracurriculars, and social life. However, as the semester has progressed, I’ve gained a variety of crucial time management skills that I know will benefit me for the rest of my college career. If you’re one of the many Rice students who plan to work while in college, here are some tips to help you manage your time and keep track of your schedule:

-Use a planner or an online calendar to keep track of classes, club meetings, and appointments. I use Google Calendar, where I can easily input the times and locations of my classes and meetings and keep track of where I need to be via a color-coded system.

-Maintain a routine sleep schedule during the week. It can be really tempting to stay up in your college’s commons with your friends until 3 in the morning. Even though this is perfectly fine to do occasionally, if it becomes a regular activity then it can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and leave you feeling exhausted (trust me, I’ve been there!). I find myself feeling healthiest and best organized when I maintain a consistent sleep schedule during the school week.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help! College can be very stressful, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate. However, it’s crucial to remember that Rice has an amazing culture of care, and everyone you meet – ranging from your friends in your residential college to your professors to your magisters – care about your wellbeing and are here to support you during times of both success and trouble.

The Family I Found at Rice

One of the biggest transitions I encountered upon coming to Rice was the social environment. I came from a school that was academically highly competitive and this competition seemed to seep into all the interactions and relationships I had. Don’t get me wrong, I had close friends, but the general social environment I was used to was mostly unhealthy.

When I came to Rice however, I found a family in the truest sense of the word, and it started from the minute I set foot on campus for O-Week. I had envisioned a difficult transition to college and that I would have a hard time meeting new people, especially because I’m not an outgoing person. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. O-Week really is a one of kind experience that indescribably helped me formed strong relationships with really great people. It creates such a strong community of new students and advisors, and ever since, I’ve never felt out of place at Rice.

Rice really is a social culture unlike any other. Beyond just O-Week, the residential college system allows you to form unique relationships with people you would never usually interact with. At any time, you can walk down into the commons at Lovett and find people working or talking at a table and sit with them. There is never a feeling of exclusive social groups or distinction between grades or majors. Everyone interacts with one another and is open to engaging and having genuine social interactions with you.

Further than even a place where you feel comfortable, the social environment at Rice really is a culture of care. This culture extends beyond just your physical well-being, it’s a culture that values you as yourself, as a person and does it’s best to be there for you in all aspects of your life whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally, or socially. In all interactions, this sentiment is evident. Continue reading