How College Changed My Relationship With My Sister

How College Changed My Relationship With My Sister

From polar opposites to the best of friends, all within a semester's time.

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My younger sister and I are close in age, with only eighteen months separating us. When we were little, we shared the usual children's toys for our generation, like Polly Pockets and Barbies, but as we approached our teen years, we started bickering more and more, over trivial things like the messiness of our room or whose turn it was to wash the dishes. Every movement or comment my sister made annoyed me for absolutely no reason, and vice versa, and our relationship suffered because of it.

Growing up, the divide between my sister and I was so prevalent, even distant family members we saw far too infrequently noted it, saying things like, 'You girls will value your relationship when you grow up, and you'll both realize how lucky you are to have each other." Back then, everything they said went in one ear and out the other, but more recently, those claims they made all those years ago have been weighing heavily on my mind—because they were right.

Like most college students, I had to deal with all of the difficult feelings of loneliness and homesickness when I moved out of the house and two hours away this past fall semester. Though the distance to my hometown is quite smaller than that of many of my friends, any distance will naturally be difficult when you've grown up in such a close-knit family like I have; I hadn't spent more than a week away from my family my entire life before I moved, and now I only see them once a month, if I'm lucky.

But, when I do get to go home, there is a drastic difference in the way my sister and I interact.

We spend quality time with one another, whether it be at the mall or Starbucks or somewhere in between, and we genuinely enjoy it. We share stories, about boys or friends or our own funny but stupid mishaps, and it feels more like spending time with a friend than a sister. I go to her soccer games and cheer her on, even though it slightly embarrasses her.

In the past four months, I've noticed that, though distance separates us physically, our bond has only grown—not only as siblings but as friends. She is someone I can tell anything to, someone who won't judge me for my mistakes, someone who has my best interest at heart and will always be honest with me, regardless whether or not what she has to say is what I want to hear, and even though she's younger, she often knows what's right for me more than I do.

Of course, we still have our differences, but we are able to appreciate the time we spend together in a greater way because we know it's often limited-- and I wouldn't want it any other way.

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12 Dorm Room 'Essentials' That Are Actually A Waste Of Money

If three years of college has taught me anything, it's that I wasted a lot of money and space on things for my dorm room that I never used.

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Now approaching my senior year of college, there are so many things that I have experienced in my three years away that I either look back at and smile just at the thought of or immediately regret. With a younger sister going into her freshman year of college, I hope to teach her as much of those lessons I learned in advance so she doesn't make the same mistakes as me. One of the most important things I learned after moving in and out of dorm rooms and apartments for three years is what should and shouldn't come with you to school. Because, let's be real, as much as we want to pack away our entire lives and fit them in our minuscule dorm room, not everything is necessary.

However, knowledge is power, and I don't want to just save my sister from making those mistakes. That's why I'm here to share the 12 things that aren't necessary for you to bring to school:

1. A Keurig/coffee maker

While living in an apartment and having all the space in a kitchen for a coffee maker and the time to make my own hot drinks, having a Keurig was a godsend. But I'm going to be completely honest, as someone who wanted a Keurig so badly before freshman year...I rarely used it when I lived in the dorms. Between having meal points to buy my own coffee and just never having the time or energy to make it in the morning and then clean the dishes afterward, it just wasn't worth the waste of money and space.

2. A giant television

You may see pictures of dorm rooms and see students with giant televisions along their window or squished onto their desks. But unless you're living in a larger apartment, having a huge flat screen TV has no purpose for a small dorm room. There are TV's usually all over campus, especially in the common rooms that are free for you to use. If you really do feel like you need a TV in your dorm, a smaller one will suffice, because anything larger is going to take up some much-needed room.

3. Any type of hot plate/mini grill, etc.

Besides the fact that these are banned in most dormitories anyways, it's not smart to sneak one of these into your rooms. I can't tell you how many people I know that have accidentally started a fire in the dorm room from using a toaster they snuck in or a special "grilled cheese grill." The dining halls will have everything you could possibly want and need, and most dorm rooms come with a mini fridge and microwave to supplement anything further.

4. Candles

I'll admit, I am guilty of using these my sophomore year of college. Do I regret the millions of times I freaked out because I almost lit my dorm room on fire? Absolutely.

It's not worth it. Your RA will probably catch you, it's not worth the risk of accidentally setting your shoebox-sized dorm on fire, and the smoke detectors in those rooms are so sensitive that you're bound to set them off.

5. A printer

Unless you're living off campus in an apartment, there really is no reason to have a printer in your dorm room. There are tons of printers throughout the different buildings of every university, and most allot a certain amount of sheets for you to do your printing. Printers are big and clunky, hard to store, and the ink is very expensive. Don't consider buying one unless you plan on moving off campus.

6. An iron and ironing board

Take it from someone who absolutely hates wearing wrinkly clothes, the whole iron and ironing board duo was not a smart move my freshman year. It took up way too much room and when I did actually want to iron, it was so annoying to find a spot to do it in my small room.

If you're really obsessive about having non-wrinkled clothes like I am, you can invest in a mini steamer, which is super cheap, stored extremely easily because they're so small, and work just as well as an iron. I ended up swapping out for one of these my sophomore year and loving it so much more.

7. Bean bag chairs/Folding chairs

Any extra seating for a dorm room is honestly unnecessary besides the standard desk chairs that come with the dorm. The floor space is so limited that taking it up with any other large items is going to make it extremely difficult to navigate around your room. Also, when your friends come to hang out, they usually will end up just sitting on your bed or your desk chair anyways.

8. A body pillow

I don't really know what the use of these things are. I had one freshman year, and it laid against my bed the entire year and I never used it. I just found laying on it extremely awkward and uncomfortable and it was just so big that it took up too much room on my already tiny Twin XL bed.

9. A laundry hamper

A stand-up laundry hamper is just going to take up way too much space that you don't have. Instead, invest in some nicely made laundry bags that you can put your dirty laundry in and just easily carry over to the laundry room. A lot of stores even make special bags that differentiate between lights, darks, and delicates so the sorting is already done for you before you do your laundry.

10. A vacuum

While the idea of having a vacuum is nice, and I myself have had one all three years, it just took up way too much room in my dorm and I later found out you could just rent one from the commons whenever you wanted to clean your floor. Most universities do have cleaning supplies for rent, such as brooms, swifters, vacuums, etc., so there's no need trying to fit all of those in your closet.

11. A million throw pillows

While they'll make your bed look cute, making your bed every single morning and remembering where to put the millions of decorative pillows can become very annoying, not to mention finding a place to put them whenever you turn down your bed.

12. Picture frames

While having tons of pictures in your dorm room is nice, and I say the more the merrier, bringing physical picture frames is just a waste because there's not much shelf or desk place to place them. Instead, find a cute wall decoration that holds photos or clips to hang them from your wall. It'll save a ton of space and also cover up those bare, ugly dorm room walls.

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To The Older Sibling I Never Had, I Wish You Were Here To Guide Me

I know you don't exist, and I know you never will, but sometimes I catch myself imagining a life with you in it.

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Starting high school is a terrifying feeling and an insane transition when you don't have anyone to guide you through it. It was a mere 15-step walk to the door, and once I was inside my parents promised me there would be somebody there to help me find my classes, so why did I feel like I was being thrown straight into the gates of hell? I counted down the minutes until we pulled into the school parking lot and dreaded the sound of the car door opening and the anticipated start to the "best four years of my life."

As we were pulling up, I saw a girl who went to the same middle school as I followed her older brother, who was a senior through the front doors as if it had been rehearsed at home. At this moment, I would have given my right foot to walk in her shoes right behind an older brother just this once. Eventually, I just walked right inside.

Unfortunately, this would not be the last of my longing for guidance from the older sibling I've never had.

I get it, I got a B in math. I get it, if I would have spent last Friday night studying instead of out with my friends it is possible that I could have gotten an A. But, what my parents seemed to not get was that life actually does go on even if you get a B on a report card. Time doesn't stop, your dreams don't diminish, and you are still viewed as a fairly competent person.

Luckily for my younger sisters, it seems my parents eventually did get it at the cost of my phone being taken away for three months and my social life ceasing to exist for the rest of that school year. As I spent every Friday night at home studying I longed, for just this once, to have an older sibling who was willing to take this hit for me.

Why did nobody tell me that it's actually more fun to go to school dances with friends than the boy you barely know who is just desperate for some conversation with the opposite sex?

I always wondered why that girl I went to middle school with never took a date to any of our formals or homecomings. Eventually, four homecomings and two proms later, I realized that this was because stumbling through the awkward introductions to family, tolerating the completely posed and overdone photos that would never actually be posted anywhere because you didn't talk outside of this forced interaction, and small talk over fruit punch and loud music was never actually necessary. Of course, I passed this message to my younger sisters and saved them the struggle of finding out for themselves.

Don't even get me started on being the first sibling to have to navigate applying to colleges.

I really could have used you then. I'm convinced there is nothing more difficult than trying to fill out a FAFSA or Common Application with absolutely no guidance or experience. Is my application essay long enough? Should I apply for early or regular admission? What if I don't get accepted anywhere? As selfish as it sounds, I would have given my other foot not to have to find these things out for myself.

I'd trade a lifetime worth of shotgun privileges to have you in my life to help me figure this stuff out.

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