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February 23, 2024

Ozzie Frazier '27

When I first learned I would be living in a First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) dorm, I was a little worried about finding community in my hall. For context, I live in one of five singles in Kahn, where everyone else in my wing has a roommate. Fortunately, my hall has built up a wide range of dorm traditions over the past semester, which means we all spend quite a lot of time together. If you’re worried about building community in your hall—or you currently live in a dorm where things need some spicing up—I have compiled a list of our favorite pastimes.

The first and most important of these, in my opinion, is puzzles! We are fortunate enough to have a fairly large coffee table in our common room, which is perfect for puzzles of all shapes and sizes. At the time of writing this blog, we were working on a 2000 piece Secret Garden painting (pictured below), which came in at a whopping 38 by 26 inches. Although I haven’t been counting, I would guess that it was at least our 20th puzzle since the beginning of the school year, despite some of them being fairly small. If the puzzle we’re working on comes with a poster, we like to hang it on the wall of the common room when it’s done. 

Our current puzzle in progress

Speaking of putting things on the wall, we also like to decorate our common room with all sorts of things. At Halloween we had strings of little paper ghosts and bats, and during finals season a lot of people decorated their doors with Christmas lights. At some point there were miniature pride flags, and right now we have a banner with a picture of the Oberlin baseball team that someone found at the Free Store. Some of my friends also made a bulletin board of "hot women" during Winter Term that greets you right as you walk in. It’s quite festive. Although the rules on this vary between dorms, most RAs won’t mind if you want to add a few flares to the common spaces. 

Once your common room or lounge is decorated to your heart's content, you’ll want to plan some fun activities to do as a group. Our favorites include hate-watching Twilight or The Bachelor, community nap time, and playing guitar or banjo. We have also coined the term “floor time” to refer to the moment at the end of the day when everyone is exhausted and just wants to lie down on the floor. This has occurred not only in our common room, but also in the hallway and on my bedroom floor. One time, we hosted floor time as a listening party for the new boygenius EP. It was awesome.

Floor time!
Floor time!

While we do like to have fun and relax, we also can be very serious when we need to. Many people in our dorm like to study in the common room, and we have started a thing called “phone jail” where everyone puts their phones in a pile and we all sit in deep thought trying to get work done. It sounds kind of boring, but honestly I’ve found that it really helps to hold each other accountable and stay focused. If you’re looking for something similar to this outside your dorm environment, our Executive Function Tutoring program also hosts weekly group study sessions, which I totally recommend.

Besides all the events that happen in the common room, the Kahn kitchen is also a lovely place to spend time. My friend Samantha has started making vegan cinnamon rolls from scratch, and we pride ourselves on the fact that all of the ingredients can be at DeCaf√© and Market—our on-campus minimart—or Stevie, which is the main dining hall. Other notable Kahn kitchen traditions include Sunday night dinners and homemade bagels, which are always in high demand. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed the experience of living in a first-year dorm so far. Most of my closest friends live in my hall, and I always feel excited to come home at the end of a long day and see who is hanging out in the lounge. I love our silly little traditions, and I hope you love them too! 

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