An open letter to Ivy Hall and my Ivy League

An open letter to Ivy Hall and my Ivy League

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Typically, the college experience is a time of first occurrences. For many, it is the first time they are off on their own, away from their parents. It is a time of maturing, and a time of finding oneself. Most incoming college students don't realize how much their surrounding environments, whether it be a roommate, living arrangement, or friend group; may influence their college experience. Unfortunately, when you think of college, you don't exactly think of luxurious living quarters and extravagant amenities. You do, however, think of cramped dorm rooms, community bathrooms, and poor food options. Though these undesirable aspects are almost inevitable, it does not mean that your entire college experience will be completely unpleasant.



Four semesters, seven roommates and a pseudo roommate into my college career, I was fortunate enough to find the surrounding environment that would get me through one of the most trying years of my education. I was fortunate enough to find my Ivy League. My junior year of college, I moved into a new apartment - Ivy Hall, apartment 5103. It was a relatively nice apartment for a college campus; four individual bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen with a dishwasher, and a living room equipped with a couch, a coffee table and two armchairs. Sure, it wasn't the five star living I was hoping for, but it was much nicer than the dorms I had lived in previously. This apartment, however, was more than just a place to sleep at night. This apartment quickly became my home, and its residents my family.



My first roommate, Carson, really was something special. You would never guess that he and I had only known each other for a few months when we moved in together; our friendship seemed centuries old. Just months into our friendship, we were going on vacations together and attending each other's family parties. We had that sort of "I'm poor right now, so you buy lunch today" relationship, which was also very "I bought this because it reminded me of you." From the very first day we met, he went above and beyond, doing things for me that my long-time friends didn't even do. Whether it was a quick pick-me-up during a late night study session, or a little drive to get my mind off of things, he was always there to catch me when I was falling. As far as friends go, Carson was my soulmate. He is the definition of a true friend. The list that I could thank him for is endless and I am forever grateful that he walked into my life.



My second roommate, Jess, was the "college mom" that our apartment so desperately needed. She was always there with a helping hand and some motherly advice to get us through whatever was troubling us that day. Throughout our time together, Jess helped me with everything from resumes, to boy problems, to making sure I was eating a healthy meal when my schedule made me forget to do it on my own. In our apartment, the phrase "I'm sorry I'm trash, I'll do it later" was beyond overused, but Jess always made sure it got done. I know I speak for the entire Ivy League when I say that, all of those times that she replaced the paper towels, loaded the dishwasher, or took out the trash did not go unnoticed. Jess truly was the backbone that kept our little family together, and we couldn't have done any of it without her.



My third roommate, Rocio, was the sister that I never wanted, but was so lucky to have found. When we first moved in together, we did not know each other very well, but I was optimistic about the future of our friendship. It wasn't long before we had formed a bond like no other. Rocio had become the person that I knew I could be myself around, and the part of my day that I looked forward to. When I had my life together, she was always ready for a study session. When I was trying to get my life together, she was always ready with a motivational speech (or Netflix, Chipotle and a nap). I could always count on her to walk me to class (usually because we were both running late), grab coffee with me between classes, or stay up with me all night listening to me complain about how I've ruined my own life by partying instead of doing my homework. I'm so thankful to have had her as a roommate, a friend, and a role model.



Now, the semester has come to an end and so has our time living together. They say that, for some, college is a home away from home; I never expected mine to come with a soulmate, a second mother and the sister that I never knew I needed. I can never thank you all enough for being my family and keeping me sane these past few months. Just know that, without you guys, my life is in shambles and I miss the Ivy League more than you could know. Each one of you has impacted my life in a way that I couldn't even begin to explain, so here is my long overdue thank you for literally everything. I love you all and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.



Sometimes, life sends you blessings in disguise. I've learned that, when this happens, you don't question it- you simply accept that you were lucky enough to have them and do your very best to share the wealth. The Ivy League was my blessing. There's no one else I'd rather have shared cramped dorm rooms, poorly flushing toilets and chip crumb covered carpets with. If you don't have one yet, go out and find yourself your very own Ivy League- you don't know what you're missing.

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A Letter To My Best Friend On Valentine's Day

Because you are my ultimate Valentine.
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To my beautiful best friend,

Warning: This letter is about to get extremely cheesy. I am talking four cheese lasagna cheesy. But no one deserves a love letter like this more than you do.

This Valentine’s Day, I want to express my love for you. On this wondrous occasion with which most people express their love to their significant other, I want to tell you, my best friend, how much I cherish our friendship.

SEE ALSO: A Valentine's Day Love Letter To My Girl Best Friends

You are the ultimate love of my life. Boys have come and gone but you remain a constant; for that I am grateful. You have been there for me when my family could not be; for that I am grateful. You have been my backbone, my rock, and all those other clichés people use to describe the people they care about, and yet you have been so much more than that as well; for that I am grateful.

All my love this Valentine’s Day goes out to you, my friend, because you do not receive it enough. You have picked me up out of the dirt, brushed me off, and kissed my wounds more times than I can count, and I will never be able to thank you enough for that, but I am sure am going to try.

Thank you for the midnight cries. Thank you for the midnight laughs. Thank you for ordering way too much food with me and still just eating it all. Thank you for the advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Thank you for telling me what I need to hear, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Thank you for the silly pictures. Thank you for the stupid inside jokes. Thank you for making bad decisions with me. Thank you for laughing with me and laughing at me. Thank you for the endless memories.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter to the Best Friend I've Ever Had

More than anything, I want you to know that I love you. I love you. You are the family I get to choose, the one I go to when I have nowhere else to turn. You are the one I know I can always run to, whether we saw each other yesterday or haven’t seen each other in a year. You have played a part in molding who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having such an amazing person affecting my life in such a positive way.

With all the love in my heart,

Your friend
Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.pederson.5/photos

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Blood Doesn't Determine Family

Blended families are just as much of a family as a traditional one.

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If you look above, you can see that have a very large family on my mother's side. Between my grandparents, aunts and uncle, cousins and my own immediate family, we're at thirty-three members and counting. All branches of our family tree have busy lives, so we don't get to see each other as much as often as we would hope to. Christmas is the one time a year where we all finally get together for the evening. If you sat in on our holiday party, you may think that we have a couple screws loose, but there is no doubt that you would be able to feel the love radiating from room to room.

If you look at the picture I chose for my header, you can see all of the cousins gathered for our yearly picture. Dysfunctional, of course, but you can tell that love is there. Would it surprise you that out of our entire huge family, less than half of us are blood-related?

I come from a blended family, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Blood does not determine family to us. Love does.

Divorce can be a messy thing, especially when children are involved. Both my aunt and uncle had remarried into relationships that already had children. For the most part, none of us can really ever remember a time when we weren't considered family. We don't ever look at each other as not being related. We never will. Family to us is the love and support that is shared unconditionally between us.

As I said, you would never be able to tell we weren't blood-related unless I told you. Not only do we all look similar to one another (which again is odd, because if the marriages had never taken place, we would just have a ton of doppelgangers running around), but the love and passion that we radiate is unmistakable that we have a bond that will never be broken, let alone determined by biology.

Blended families tend to get a bad rap sometimes from some of the horror stories that can come from second marriages. Not only that, but some people still are stuck in the idea that the only socially acceptable type of family is one where the lineage is clear and concise. Although I can see where these people come from, I don't believe that because there is a lack of shared genetics between all of us, our love is any less strong.

Family is those who will answer a call or text late at night because you need someone to talk to. They're the ones that you end up staying at their house and talking for hours when you meant to make a quick trip in. They are there for you no matter the situation and always believe in you one hundred percent.

Traditional families have a lot of love too, undoubtedly. But please, do not tell me that my family is any less of a family of a family because of its makeup. We have just as much love between us as families with the same bloodline. Blood does not determine the amount of love and affection between all of us. It never will. We will love each other as much as a traditional family. We never look at each other as a mixed family, so please stop treating us as such.

I've said it so many times, but I'll remind you once more. Blood does not determine family, love does-- and I love my family more than life itself.

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