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Lessons from a College Dorm

It was fall semester during my freshman year in college at Chapman University in Orange, California. I was still getting to know my fellow classmates and making friends. My friend Amy and I had watched a movie in another friend’s dorm room. There were a few of us there packed into his dorm room. The movie sparked a discussion afterwards about spirituality, religion, relationships and life. I remember listening feeling amazed. It felt like that was what college was all about. Keeping an open mind, developing relationships, having meaningful discussions at one in the morning, respecting and loving each other.

Though I didn’t agree with some of the opinions that were expressed, I was able to say, “Wow, that’s an interesting point of view. I never thought about it that way and I respect that. This is how I feel about religion.” No one was trying to purposely change anyone’s mind. We were just learning what others felt in a respectful manner. Because I felt free and safe to express my opinion, on one issue I actually said, “I don’t know how I feel about that. Let me hear what you all think.” Then I heard everyone else’s views on the subject and from there could make up my own mind. I wasn’t pressured either way. It was just an open minded conversation.

How do you keep an open mind?

It does take practice. You need to be ready to entertain new ideas, experiences, suggestions and opportunities. Ready to ask questions and hear others point of view. Realize that the phrase, “to each their own” is true. Everyone has their own pathway they are on and they might take a route that is different than the one you would take. Those differences make us unique. It’s great to be diverse as that means that there are several choices in this world.

Diversity is rooted in Chapman University’s heritage, values, and mission so I feel lucky I was able to attend a college that was diversity focused. It was during my four years there that I was able to learn a valuable lesson. College isn’t just about learning inside the classroom; it’s outside the classroom where I was able to learn the most. I never imagined that at one in the morning in a friend of mine’s dorm room, I would experience such an impactful evening. An evening where I caught a glimpse of what life was all about.

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