Why I chose a Living Learning Community

Jessica Harker, Opinion Editor

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As a freshman in college, everything is new. You have to share a new room with a new person on a new campus with new professors and new peers.
Freshman year is truly just a mass amount of freshly freed adults, wandering aimlessly through the year and making mess after mess as they try to figure out, “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

Most resident advisers will say the first step is to go out and be involved in the community, but reaching out and making friends with everyone is a lot harder than it’s cracked up to be.

This can be especially true if it’s one of your first times away from home, or if you and your roommate aren’t the instant best friends all the chick-flicks said you’d be. This is why joining a Living Learning Community as a freshman is such a good idea.

As a freshman in 2014, I joined what was then called the Arts Living Learning Community. Housed in the 5th floor of Ottawa East residence hall, we got course credit both fall and spring semester for joining the “class.”

Though to call it a class wouldn’t really do the ALLC justice — we didn’t take tests or learn anything really, we just hung out. As a communication major, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be allowed to join, and almost didn’t even try.

But I figure the college I was in is the college of College of Communication and the Arts, so they can’t really tell me no, right? Well, they didn’t, and as it turns out, anyone with any major could have joined.

All that was required was that you went to a weekly meeting and paid a small fee, which financed a huge number of trips during the year. The year I joined, we went to plays, saw movies, took trips to museums and even went to Chicago for a weekend trip.

I got to live on the same floor with people who had similar interests. We all became very good friends, and even almost three years later I’m still best friends with the people I met there.

The benefits of finding a Living Learning Community that fits your interests are substantial. As a freshman, you need to pounce on every opportunity to force yourself out of the personal bubble called your dorm room and socialize.

I spent too much time in a blanket fort watching “The L-Word” and “Bob’s Burgers” on Netflix — being part of the ALLC was just the push I needed to join the land of the living.

This is also a great way to find groups of people to study with and create a group of your own for support in your classes, since you’ll be surrounded with people who have the same or similar majors.

So if you do decide that your bed is just too cozy and it’s just too cold to walk to class that day, you’ll have someone to help you out.
Although the ALLC no longer exists at UT, there are still a bunch of other cool Living Learning Communities you can join on campus.

There’s one for business students, for engineering students, medical students, honors students and many more.

If you don’t feel like any of them fit you, there’s also the First Year Experience community which is broader than the other communities and that every freshman who lives in Parks Tower is required to join.

Overall, joining a Living Learning Community as a freshman made my first year bearable, even enjoyable! It’s not easy, being new, and sometimes it’s more about surviving than “realizing the true freshman experience.”

The ALLC pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me make lifelong friends. It’s an experience everyone should have, and I encourage you to do it.

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Why I chose a Living Learning Community