Travel Journal: France
In myriad brochures about Centre College, I've seen many variations of this sentence: “Centre College is a highly selective residential liberal arts college of 1300 students, listed by U.S. News in the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the nation.”
As I write this, I'm sitting in my apartment in Strasbourg, so the word from the previous sentence that stands out most is “residential.”
On campus, I serve as a member of the Residence Life staff. The first portion of the Residence Life mission statement reads, “The mission of the Residence Life Office is to enhance the academic experience and to encourage an inclusive, safe, healthy, and supportive living environment for all Centre College students...”
Somehow that inclusive and supportive living environment has become a part of the Centre-in-Strasbourg program. Much like on campus, I'm living in a building with other Centre students. And like my residential experience as a first-year at Centre, I didn't choose my roommate, nor did I pick the building in which I'm staying. I knew of the men that I'd be living with but I didn't truly know them. While on campus, we were cordial at meetings and spoke excitedly about Strasbourg but we never discussed roommates or living accommodations. We, like Marshall and Ted from the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, subconsciously decided to “Let those future guys figure it out.”
And figure it out we did.
Upon arrival at our apartment, we were met by the Centre-in-Strasbourg coordinator, Heidi Cahen. She wanted to exchange pleasantries and get to know us better, but all we wanted to do was play Rock-Paper-Scissors for first draw at room selection. I chose to live with Long Phan, a fellow Centre junior. There are five men in the apartment to occupy three rooms, so someone was going to get the single—even this was resolved peacefully. Long and I were able to sort out all the small details without incident, almost as if this had been preordained to work out perfectly. It's almost corny how, even in a crowded classroom, we're still able to pull off our inside jokes about the word “bonjour.”
We're now well into the swing of things and I'd argue that our housing arrangements have continued to breed positive interactions. I'm not saying that we have been disagreement free; we've had our share of differences in opinion. However, we always try our best to ensure that our behavior is not worthy of a trashy reality MTV show.
The men that I live with are from different walks of life. We have different places of origin, different majors, and each of us has a different Greek affiliation. Still, we're having a great time together and learning a lot about ourselves and others, as promised by Dr. Milton Reigelman, the Director of the Center for Global Citizenship.
Our experiences have brought us closer together. Fretting over tests, getting lost in Strasbourg, and deciphering homework together has made for an interesting experience. There's solidarity and a unique kinship here, one that I'll only have with the four other men in this little French apartment. The memories we've made and the inside jokes we've developed will last forever and this is what matters. I won't remember the negatives. I'll forget about getting lost on the way to the grocery store and I won't care about whose toothpaste is in the sink. We're enjoying each others company—and that's the main thing.
We've chosen to get along. We've chosen to figure it out.
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