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Advice from a Sophomore Missing Her First-Year Floor

September 22, 2023

Alex Spear

There’s nothing like walking home from a long day of classes and extracurriculars to find a dozen people crowding the thin halls of Coleman, munching on Hannaford brand potato chips and waiting for their love lives to be predicted from a random spread of tarot cards on the carpeted floors.

On my first day of college, I was told that the students on my O-trip would be the support system that I maintained throughout my time at Bowdoin. One failed O-trip dinner later, I knew that wouldn’t be the case. Instead, it was my first flinner that showed me what my community at Bowdoin would look like.

Within a week of being on campus, I found my place in a group of people that, upon first impression, were nothing like any group of friends I’d ever had. We all came to college with stories that reflected our nuanced backgrounds, ranging from little remarks about our different geographic locations to our complicated family histories, loves and losses. Our pasts and futures tangled together every weekend night as we talked for hours with nothing but a faint strip of LED lights overhead and some pensive music in the background.

Living within such a community was spontaneous yet predictable. Every birthday was celebrated in the exact same way, yet each of us acted surprised when our proctor kicked open the door with a cake and the rest of the floor singing behind him. All of those little moments that we shared as a floor taught us how to be there for each other regardless of what else was going on in our busy Bowdoin student lives. No matter what time of day it was, I knew I could find a companion. When I needed someone to hear me laugh or cry or something in between, I looked no further than my own common room, or the one next door.

We were not all best friends by any means, but we didn’t need to be to still care for each other. Even in the moments when I couldn’t move from my bed because of another round of “the Bowdoin basement plague,” there was cough syrup and Moulton Express waiting for me at my desk courtesy of one of my neighbors. There was never a moment where I felt truly alone because someone was always just a knock away.

The walls filled with memories as the doors got taped, and every space on the floor felt like it had a piece of me in it—a piece of all of us in it. Chalkboard drawings and posters came and went with the seasons, but the space itself was constant and comforting in its stability. People always tell you that you don’t know what you have until you lose it, but I think we always knew those dynamics would change when we left the floor. As I packed up my suitcases after my last final, my roommate told me that it was not the end of an era, just the end of a year. I wish it could have been true.

I don’t think I will ever have an experience living with a group of people like Coleman Fourth again, but I will forever be grateful for the connections I made that I probably would not have otherwise. As I approach the end of the first month of my sophomore year, I can’t help but miss living alongside the people that grounded me throughout my first year and knew me better than anyone else.

This semester, I’ve been on campus for weeks and still have yet to run into every member of my floor from last year. Of course, I still see my friends weekly despite us all living across campus in different buildings and houses. But I no longer can come back to the floor on a random Tuesday night and find my closest companions centered around the coffee table of someone’s common room, attempting to get work done, but in reality just enjoying each other’s company.

My advice to current first year students is to cherish all those little spontaneous moments that bring you closer to the people you live with. Go to your flinners—even if they are awkward and you don’t feel like you would connect with your neighbors—because you never know what conversations may form long-lasting bonds. Don’t be scared to knock on your proctor’s door when you need advice or had a really bad night. Be there for your floormates because you will be so grateful to have them there for you one day. Embrace this community because it has the potential to be the most uniquely wonderful found-family you will ever get the chance to be a part of.

Kaya Patel is a member of the class of 2026.


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