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Column: Living in a suite is the best choice a freshman can make

An eight-person suite. Photo courtesy of Carolina Housing.

As an incoming freshman, two hours away from all I have ever known, move-in day was terrifying. I was leaving my comfortable room and moving into a 13’ by 15’ shoebox with a girl I barely knew and six new suitemates. Not only was I leaving behind my friends and family, but I was an only child who had never lived with another person my age before, let alone seven. Although the adjustment period had its ups and downs, living in an eight-person suite ended up being the best part of my first-year experience.

Oftentimes, people would look at me sideways when I mentioned I was living in a suite. Before move-in, I was asked questions like “how do you share the bathroom,” and “what if you don’t get along,” — questions I often did not know the answer to.

At times, sharing a bathroom with seven girls can be a hassle, especially if everyone showers at night. Regardless, proper communication and a quick text will mitigate any problems. In regards to the latter, I never considered my suitemates and I not getting along. Maybe we just clicked immediately, or maybe I just got lucky. However, living in a small space together is the best way to form fellowship. 

Living in a suite is certainly a different experience compared to the standard hall-style dorms people often picture when they think of college housing. Only seven dorms on UNC’s campus offer eight-person suites, which makes them a unique living situation for on-campus students. 

I took comfort in knowing that I already had seven people in my circle entering college, which made branching out easier. Going to Weeks of Welcome events with my suitemates strengthened our bond and increased my confidence to reach out to new people.

As the year progressed, our halls became filled with inside jokes, new friends and most importantly a strong bond between the eight of us. Being confined to a hallway with four rooms and a bathroom for eight months was the best way to form wonderful relationships with my suitemates. Almost immediately, we spent every day together and even left our doors open so anyone could come in and out. From going to campus events and spending hours doing homework on the floor in our hallway, my suite has provided me with a bond like no other.

Students often describe South Campus first-year dorms as a community. I heard people call Ehringhaus “Ehome” and Hinton James “HomeJo.” The first-year residence hall communities put forward an incredible effort to make new students feel at home through gatherings, including carnivals, sports and holiday parties.

While there is a great sense of community in most of the first-year dorms on South Campus, I felt the most at home within the four cinderblock walls of my suite with my seven best friends. The support, laughter and memories made with my suitemates are the greatest community I could ask for, which has helped me thrive both academically and socially. Knowing I was coming back to my friends after a long day on campus had me looking forward to doing even the most simple activities.

The eight-person suite is quintessential to UNC’s first-year experience. I was taught how to share a small space with other people, pull my weight in chores, learned valuable life lessons and most importantly, I met my best friends. Living the suite life absolutely took some adjusting to, but I would not trade this experience for the world.