Heather R. Breaux's BLOG
I can remember it all very well looking back on my first semester as a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond when I first stepped foot onto the campus in January 2000.
Six months prior to the beginning of my dorm days, I graduated from high school and spent the remainder of 1999 living in a fully-furnished yet over priced one-bedroom beachfront apartment in Biloxi.
To me, receiving my high school diploma really was like one door closing and another opening, and I wanted to make sure that the next chapter of my life started with a little rest and relaxation.
After all, I had just completed 12 continuous years of schooling and decided that I deserved a little time off before committing myself to four years at a university.
I spent my days treading through the sand and listening to the calming sound of the waves crashing into the shoreline, and by the end of that summer and after many free tanning sessions, I started to look more like my Native American ancestors than ever before.
Winter came and went with beach bonfires and marshmallow roasts, and before I knew it my vacation was over and the view in front of me was not that of sand and water, but of an array of freshman in line formation in the Student Union of SLU’s campus.
I felt like I was in a game of tug-a-war, being pulled from one line to another by upperclassmen and orientation leaders adorned in green and gold - the school’s spirit colors.
After the hustle and bustle of taking identification card pictures and finalizing class schedules was done, I found myself standing in front of the all-female dormitory, Lee Hall, that would be my home for the next four months.
It was a horseshoe-shaped brick building that stood four stories high and approaching it from a distance was like walking up to a haunted house in a horror flick.
Everything about the place oozed gloom. It was almost like a dark cloud was fixated above the building at all times.
Lee Hall was the oldest of the student living quarters on campus and it was rumored that the stone-cold design was mapped out by the same architect who designed the San Francisco Bay prison in California, Alcatraz.
Yippie! I had gone from the wide open spaces of the Mississippi gulf coast to cement blocks reflective of a jail cell.
There was no elevator and my room was, of course, conveniently located on the top floor.
It was an oddly warm day for January, and I can still picture my dad’s face dripping with sweat as he carried boxes up and down four flights of stairs.
I even vaguely remember him saying, “Kid, you’re on your own when you move out of here.” I think that by this time it was the heat exhaustion talking.
The most stressful part of living on campus is worrying about who your roommate will be.
Most students try to reserve a room with one of their friends, but all of my friends went to college out of state, so I had to take what I could get.
I arrived to the suite before my mystery roommate did and was able to choose what bed and desk I wanted and started unpacking.
Needless to say, my roommate didn’t show up for days. I was almost convinced that I was going to spend the semester alone, until a girl named Nicole popped in late one night.
She told me that she was going to be rooming with her boyfriend in his off-campus apartment and had gotten the dorm room just in case she ever needed to stay on campus.
Great. Not only was she a rebel, but she was also going to be invisible.
I am actually quite shy when it comes to meeting new people, but I eventually became friends with the other girls in my suite and little did I know then that two of the girls, Brooke and Kelli, would be friends for life.
Most nights, the sound of the washing machine rattling in the laundry room down the hall kept me awake, but sometimes I wish I could trade in a day here and there for just one night of sitting on the balcony of the prison-like dorm eating a cup of semi-stale Ramen Noodles, running from room to room, goofing off with the girls.
Once I made it through the dorm life with all my senses still intact, the memories of my summer at the beach weren’t as appealing as they once were - the mental snapshots of bathroom fights and late nights are what make me smile.
After all, it’s not like I spent a summer vacationing in the Hamptons - this is the gulf coast we’re talking about - the water’s brown - ugghh!
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