Bears, burglaries and fires, oh my!

Besides the bears, the above statement turns out to be a pretty accurate summary of my experience so far in Harbin Hall. In the mere three weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve survived two fire-scares (made memorable by their early-morning timing) and have had close calls with break-ins. To say the least,Harbin has not made the best first impression.

While I was not the biggest fan of Harbin Hall to begin with, I soon found myself feeling annoyed by its little flaws. For example, Harbin faces both a cemetery and a construction site. It lacks a true package room. It has stains running down the outside of its windowsills that make me want to invest in some Clorox and a ladder. Its musty carpets seem to cater better to bacteria and fungi than the feet of Georgetown students.

Then, one night, as I was going through my above list of complaints to a friend, I came to a realization. When I reached the end of my grievances, my ever-so-patient friend turned to me and said, “Wow, you must really hate living in Harbin.” I found myself unable to nod my head or respond with an affirmative. Sure, I had my criticisms and could certainly vocalize my dissatisfaction, but I was filled with a surprising loyalty to my home away from home.

Yes, Harbin has its annoying quirks, but it has its benefits, too. Harbin, after all, has some of the biggest freshman rooms, especially if you and your roommate decide to bunk beds. “Harbinites” are probably among the few college freshmen out there who can say their storage space has increased since moving to college (thanks to the humongous closets). The sprawling desks in Harbin are definitely not the reason why I can never seem to finish my homework at a reasonable hour.

Finally, as any real estate agent would point out, Harbin’s location (location, location!) is primo.

It’s a short walk to Reiss, an even shorter one to the Intercultural Center and a quick run up the stairs to Healy and the front gates. It’s right across from the football field and it’s the closest freshman residence hall to Yates or the Rafik B. Hariri Building. And, it’s a close enough distance to Leo’s that the dread you feel walking there remains solely due to the questionable food you’ll encounter (but far enough that the threat of the freshman 15 isn’t too much of a concern.)

Harbin also boasts some of the coolest alumni. Though I’m sure not all freshmen come to Georgetown in hopes of someday becoming president or learning how to make DMT, it definitely fills me with a sense of pride and possibility that I’m living in a building that gave fruit to both.

Though these features are unique to my freshman dorm, the feeling I get is that each and every one of these dorms cultivates a similar feeling of pride. No matter where you reside as a Hilltop newbie, it seems like these dorms are also the places where you have some of the best times here at Georgetown — even if it’s only been three weeks. Harbin is where I met my new friends, cried over my first college paper and learned valuable life skills (like how to do laundry). I’m sure I’ll have more memories to come as the year goes on. But, these memories, I know, will stick with me throughout my career at Georgetown.

As I walked home from that conversation that night, I stopped and stared up at Harbin’s awkwardly shaped walls and mismatched building materials and colors. All I could think was, “If it was good enough for Bill Clinton, I guess it’s good enough for me.”

Hanaa Khadraoui is a freshman in the College.

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