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10 distinct pleasures (and pains) only an RA knows

I wrote this post last August but forgot to publish it for whatever reason.  It’s still appropriate, although this year I have fewer residents and I’d like to think I’m a bit more seasoned to the wise ways of the RA.  Here’s the post – may it serve as a snapshot of my mind approximately one year ago today.


my old floor. love each one of these guys.

It’s easily been one of the most stressful weeks of my life.

I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep lately, my skin is breaking out, I’m failing at being a good brother, my classes are moving forward and I’m still struggling to catch up.

I’m wondering how to balance being a resident advisor on top of all my commitments.  But I’m soothed by some things I’ve noticed on my floor lately, so I wanted to write about them here.

Here are ten distinct pleasures only an RA knows, ten reasons I know my residents and I are going to get along just fine:

  1. Brushing your teeth and one of your residents walks in to the bathroom and stops and starts looking at you.  You’re like “what’s up?” and he’s like “oh, I gotta take a huge dump but I don’t want you to have to smell it so I’ll wait for you to finish.”
  2. Walking down the hall and seeing residents who stop in their tracks to read your new bulletin boards.
  3. Seeing residents out and about on campus and having them give you not only the acknowledging up head nod but also the respectful down head bump.
  4. Knowing you have early classes tomorrow but hosting around 15 residents in my room to either play cards against humanity or fishbowl and having a blast anyway.
  5. Getting to practice the things I’m learning in my social work coursework with my floor: how are you feeling today?
  6. Small talk.  Hearing lifelong friendships begin to seal and cement in real time.
  7. Being a role model.
  8. Not having your door decs torn down or vandalized.
  9. Meeting so many international students – I have residents from Japan, Australia, Spain, China, and Korea.  There are so many languages going around, and we have even created stickers to label items on our floor for our Japanese student Kazuhiro.
  10. Seeing all the random objects – shoes, socks, trash bins, scotch tape, and shower caddies – that residents use to prop open their doors, as you proudly walk down the hallway.

As a fun addendum to this article, I’ll add 10 distinct pains and annoyances only an RA knows, which I wrote just now:

  1. When your residents try to sneakily keep (weird) pets – gerbils, frogs, ball pythons – in their rooms hidden under their beds.
  2. Hearing echo from the bathroom that persistent, annoying hrrrrrcgh clearing-of-the-throat sound.  Having it infect your dreams. (This may happen more on male floors)
  3. Paper.  Work.  They misbehave – and you have to write a detailed incident report about it.
  4. The sickly sweet sour smell of freshmen frequenting fraternities vomit.
  5. Knocks on your door at 3am for the most absolutely asinine reasons – my pet died! I’m locked out of my room in a towel!
  6. Finding unflushed toilets and piles of body hair in the showers.
  7. Getting severe written redirections from your supervisors for giving charitable interviews to your school paper (just me?).
  8. Planning an exquisite, creative floor event and marketing for it for weeks only to discover that no one shows up.
  9. Having to send your significant other six floors away to find an opposite gender bathroom.
  10. Learning to distrust more than anything else the smell of fresh Febreeze on a Friday evening.
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