Today I got an e-mail from the alumni association of the University I did my undergrad from. It had something to do with 'freshmen', a term used to refer to first year undergraduate students in college in the United States. The mail brought back memories of my freshman year, particularly of the dorm I stayed in during that year.
I lived in Hinton James, one of the 33 dorms on campus. Ho Jo as we used to call it. Ho Jo primarily housed freshmen & sophomores (2nd year students). It had 10 floors and was home to approx. 800 students. Each floor had 4 wings and each wing was divided into suites containing 4 rooms each, with 2 people to a room. It really was like living with a very large family.
There was a basketball court on one side, volleyball court on another, parking lot on the third side, and a plush green lawn on the fourth side where students would soak up some sun during spring. The ground floor had a computer lab, laundry room, lounges and an assortment of vending machines for candy, soda, chips etc. I forget if Ho Jo had a vending machine for condoms as well - there were some such vending machines at other places on campus, I remember.
The biggest disadvantage of living in Hinton James was that we had to trudge up to North Campus for classes everyday. It was a good 15-20 minute walk, most of it uphill. Of course there were buses but they would generally be packed so a lot of people preferred to walk. The biggest advanatge was during the basketball season - the stadium was right behind the dorm!
I lived in three dorms over the course of my 4 years at the University of North Carolina but the reason Hinton James will always be special is because that's where I made my first friends in America. Friends who accepted someone so different from themselves without an ounce of hesitation or apprehension. Friends I met at the water fountain on my floor, or by the vending machines, or randomly while hanging out at the common passage. Friends I ordered loads of Gumby's/Papa John's pizzas with. Friends I played Secret Santa with during Christmas every year. Friends who would take me home for Thanksgiving b/c I had nowhere to go (I couldn't possibly come back to India for a 4 day holiday). Friends who would cheer me up whenever I got homesick. Friends who are all over the globe now but I'm still in touch with.
They say that friends you make in college stay with you for life. They say that for a reason. And Hinton James is a bloody good place to find such friends!
PS: The photo above has been taken from Flickr. If there are any copyright issues, please let me know and I'll take it off.