The beginning of the school year can be a difficult time for students, especially those coming in as freshmen. To combat this, many first-year students have gotten creative with decorating their dorms and, after half a semester on campus, are making EKU a place they can call home.
Danae Stewart, a freshman music education major from Lexington, said for her, coming to EKU was a big adjustment. Stewart lives in Martin Hall and is an only child, so she said moving into a dorm and living with a roommate was something she had to get used to.
“Living on campus is very, very different than living at home,” Stewart said. “I feel like on campus, I have way more freedom than I did at home, but living with someone is very, very different. I’ve never had to share a living space before so I have to be cautious of the things that I do and where I change and things like that.”
Stewart said that even though her parents’ house is just a short drive away, she went to great lengths to make her room in Martin feel as much like home as possible.
“I put up lights on my wall because my room back home in Lexington was covered in Christmas lights and I wanted to bring that element with me,” Stewart said. “I decided to hang up pictures of really close friends and family and even some teachers that I’ve had in the past, in high school, to just make it feel like home so I can be reminded of them whenever I get homesick.”
She said that, as the semester has progressed, Stewart and her roommate have gotten along well and have found ways to compromise and make dorm life easier for the both of them.
“Well, we both agreed to share certain things in our room like the microwave, the fridge and the TV,” Stewart said. “We have compromised on a temperature in the room; we keep it on the same temperature. We talk about different things together like guests, having people spend the night and things of that nature. We just communicate with each other… before we do anything, we talk about it and make sure it’s okay with the other person.”
Stewart said starting out, college was a little more challenging than she had originally anticipated. She said felt lost on campus at the beginning of the year and had trouble locating everything. After the initial adjustment, however, she said she is much more confident with college-living.
“I feel like I’ve gotten really used to the systems of things, the processes and waking up at different times during the day,” Stewart said. “In high school, it was 8:25 every day, but with college classes… it’s different adjusting to a new schedule and I feel like I’ve acclimated well to that. I’ve got in a routine for things like when to eat and when I have breaks.”
Other first-year students have gone through similar struggles. Erin Howard, a freshman aviation major from Louisville, said that when she first came to campus, she struggled with making friends and finding a sense of community at EKU.
“The hardest thing was being by myself and not knowing anyone,” Howard said.
Taylor Davis, a freshman broadcasting major from Louisville, said that the most difficult part of starting college for her was moving all of her belongings and making the transition from home to dorm life, but has since settled into the college setting.
Robert Brown, the executive director of housing and residence life at EKU, said many of the students living in EKU residence halls are freshman.
“We have 4,230 students as of Aug. 20,” Brown said. “1,814 on-campus first-year students. So a large percentage of our students are first year students.”
Brown said the large freshman population could be due to the university’s two-year residency requirement under which students generally must live on-campus until they have earned enough credit hours to become a junior. However, he said there are ways for students to become exempt from the requirement, which Brown said that 575 freshmen students took advantage of this year.
In his opinion, Brown said that campus life may be difficult for incoming freshmen because they have to learn to become more independent.
“I think the biggest issue for first year students is learning to be students on their own,” Brown said. “That’s the big adjustment.”
Brown also said that if a student is having any trouble with living in the dorms they are encouraged to talk with their Residence Hall Coordinator in order to discuss how they can make their stay at EKU more comfortable.