Student learns to love her new home at Western
Geri Massengale, a 2012 graduate, had never pictured herself living
in the Fairhaven Complex, but she grew to love its wooded, secluded
setting. She wrote this essay during her senior year at Western.
By Geri Massengale,
University Communications and Marketing Intern, 2012
Every newly admitted Western freshman who decides to live on campus receives a letter informing them of where they will live and whom they will live with for the academic school year. I certainly remember my letter — I wasn’t pleased.
When I read the words “Fairhaven Complex, Stack,” I thought, “There goes my college experience.” I really wanted to live in Nash Hall—a seemingly majestic residence hall, situated on north campus, overlooking Bellingham Bay. I had pictured myself enjoying a view of an orange sun setting on the bay while chatting with my friends about what we learned in class. But instead I would be cooped up in a little forest on south campus known as Fairhaven Complex.
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So on move-in day, I grudgingly pulled on my duffle bag strap and heaved my laundry basket filled with all the things I realized later I didn’t need (such as too many jackets, an umbrella, toilet paper and a small vacuum), and walked through the trees to my new home. The rain certainly didn’t help my mood, but what did was a warm smile and a helping hand. Western student volunteers, called HELPs, littered the rainy Fairhaven courtyard, carrying the belongings of newly admitted students. I thought I would have to take several trips to my car, but because I had several volunteers help me, we only took one trip. There was always someone there to help me or my family members, so we rarely had to ask questions. My feelings of annoyance and anxiety suddenly turned into excitement and spontaneity — the energy on this rainy day was contagious and moving in was fun. I wanted to make new friends and check out everything about Fairhaven Complex.
Move-in day brought about so many surprises and those surprises didn’t stop that day. Fairhaven is definitely enclosed in trees, but within is a special, private world filled with interesting people with stories they’re willing to share. It also wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be. In the morning the sun comes up behind the buildings, illuminating the bricks and the little duck pond in the Fairhaven courtyard, making it a great place to lie out in the sun or play sports. Even though we didn’t have the luxury of watching the sunset out on the bay as we read a book at our window, we did experience the sunset filter through those trees casting a mystical aura over Fairhaven Complex and creating a comforting getaway from school.
I look back and chuckle to myself about all of my outrageous and silly moments at Fairhaven — such as the time my roommate somehow chucked her pants out our window and they got stuck in a tree. The best way to get them down was to yell at some passers-by to throw their shoes or belongings to hopefully get the pants loose from the tree’s branches. Now, that’s community.
Wherever you move your belongings on that first day, what really makes your experience at Western is not where you live, but the people you meet and what you get to do. No other motto in life will apply more in freshman year than this: “It is what you make of it.” And there is always a warm smile and a helping hand to guide you on your way to creating the best memories yet.
Geri Massengale, who graduated from Western in 2012 with a degree in Journalism - Public Relations, is a Communications Coordinator at the Bellevue Downtown Association.