My college living room and family
As a first-year, I got off the elevator with a box full of clothes and a mind full of nerves. My mom looked around Graham third floor at an area of couches, tables and chairs and said, “Well that’s a nice lounge area y’all have.” “Yeah, a nice place for him to get all his studying done,” my dad quickly chimed in.
When I first moved into my new home in the fall of 2010, I figured my mom and dad were both right about that lounge space between the third floors of Aycock and Graham Halls. Except for maybe an occasional study session, I assumed it would be a nice place that I’d walk by every day, but would rarely spend any time in. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Over the next two years of my time at UNC, that lounge came to mean so much more to me and all the residents of third floor Aycock/Graham. Through countless introductions and mutual friendships, the lounge was where we all met and continued to meet for our time on the hall.
Almost like a family’s living room, the lounge became the place where we laughed, shared, talked and even ate with one another. In this blog post, I want to share just a handful of those moments that meant a lot to me and reflect the dynamic nature of that lounge space.
A place to relax and hang out
You could always find a couple of the guys from Graham intensely playing video games on their computers, along with some Aycock ladies talking about their martial arts classes or latest baked creation.
After a long day of class, the lounge was a place to relax and talk about music, movies, sports, current events or just anything besides the stress of class. My roommate still gets grief from everyone about how much time he spent watching Netflix in the lounge. But that was what the space was about—just coming in and relaxing.
A place to study
The lounge was, of course, a place to study as well. No one knows how we managed to get all the material from BUSI 101 on one whiteboard for our group study sessions or how many hundreds of papers were written in that lounge over the course of two years.
Whether it was 3 a.m. or 3 p.m., it seemed like someone was always in there studying for a quiz, and another person would come to join in—misery loves its company. Days after midterms or finals, we’d all be back in the lounge to share the normally good, but sometimes disappointing, news of how well we’d done. It was almost like we were celebrating together, no one understood those sacrifices you made quite like your fellow lounge dwellers.
A place to laugh
There were the pranks, such as some of us deciding to somehow stack all the furniture into a “fort” and leave it for our lovely RAs to find, or the time one of my friends decided to put cellophane across the doors and watch people hilariously run into what they thought was an open door. These moments provided some much needed comic relief from the stress of college life.
There was the time when one of our hall mates innocently let a friend take his picture for “some magazine” only to end up on the front page of Seventeen magazine’s website as the UNC “campus cutie.” When one of my friends from a visiting school recognized him, I instantly ran to the lounge and shared it with everyone there. We laughed for days, literally.
That was what you did on our hall when something funny happened, you ran into the lounge and shared it with everyone.
Time for personal moments
The lounge was a place to connect with other people through conversation. You know, those late-night talks about friends, family or relationships that turn acquaintances into friends and friends into best friends.
We found people who could relate to the fear and doubt of being in a new place, but also understood the excitement and optimism we all had about our goals and passions. Many of these lounge conversations helped me through tough times or helped guide who I was going to be in my time at UNC.
Friends and memories
One of the most difficult parts of growing up is coming to the realization that your friends are busy people who now have work, class and tons of obligations to juggle.
Because of this, I’ve come to appreciate more and more those moments when you get all of your friends together to eat, laugh or just hang out. Thanks to Aycock/Graham’s third floor lounge, I had those moments every day.
So next time you’re looking for a place to study, watch some TV or just relax, consider the common spaces in your residence hall. It might just result in some peace and quiet, or it could lead to a lifetime of friends and memories.