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A Home Away from Home: Cross Access Relationships and Friendships

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Edited by: Lasya Adiraj

Living on campus is a significant part of anyone’s college life and provides an experience that is unlike any other. Living away from home for the first time, managing everything on your own, meeting new people and socializing, and keeping up with class schedules and deadlines — the list is never-ending. Moreover, when you leave home and live alone, you have a chance to become independent because you get to make important decisions. Aside from that, you get to meet individuals from many walks of life, some of whom may end up becoming your best friends and a significant part of your life.

Now imagine experiencing all of that while surviving a global pandemic. COVID-19 has already thrown everyone’s lives into disarray, ​​resulting in more limitations and fewer possibilities for engagement and interaction. So to say, if you’re someone who is currently on campus, there is a high possibility that your residential life isn’t quite the same, or at least like the ones you see in coming-of-age movies. Less access to common spaces and absolutely no cross-movement between residential halls, especially girls and boys hostels. It isn’t the perfect situation to be in.

Not only that but the kind of bonds and connections that you aim to create with other people get heavily influenced by these constraints. Because you aren’t allowed to meet people as often as you’d want, due to the lack of more common spaces, the level of dedication and consistency required to establish relationships is greatly impacted. Even in general, the first step in getting to know someone is to delve deeper into what makes them, them. And also, a person’s living space says a lot about their personality. With all of that missing, there isn’t a lot of scope for building strong(er) relationships and friendships.   

In a time like this, the concept of cross access seems as enticing as ever. This means being allowed to go into any residence hall within a stipulated amount of time. In other words, more freedom and increased accessibility in terms of being with people. Fortunately for us, the students of Ashoka University, we’ve been granted this boon after weeks of putting across our demands and requests. Thanks to this, a lot of new avenues have opened up to finally mingle with people, professionally or personally.

Owing to that, it’s important to make a comparison between pre-cross access and post-cross access interactions. Pre-cross access was characterized by a hustling and bustling atmosphere in the mess halls, many rendezvous in the mess lawns, lazy afternoons at the Dhaba, and a rush of people in the sports block at all times, amongst other things. Even though from the sound of it, it sounds like an ideal scenario to be in, it always felt like something was missing. Thi stemmed from the fact that a lot of the time we’d have to work around our schedules and routines, just so we could spend some more quality time with each other, and this wasn’t always possible. It also meant delaying sleep timings since a lot of these hangouts would turn into late-night get-togethers, pushing us into tiredness and exhaustion.  

The post-cross access environment, on the other hand, is more comfortable and breezy. It’s welcoming and enjoyable, as a consequence of the fact that we’re finally allowed to vacillate from one room to another, at any time that is convenient to us, for as long as we want (within the stipulated time obviously). Not to say that it doesn’t get chaotic at times, but it’s more about having the time, space, and energy to securely co-exist with other people in your comfort zone, which is your room. In friendships and relationships alike, it gives you more one-on-one time with your people and allows you to see the other sides of their being as well. Along with that, it helps you set boundaries when it comes to defining personal space in regards to others. Not to forget cozy movie nights, productive work sessions, cooking dates, dressing up together, decorating your rooms together, and the general euphony of love and laughter. It adds to the wholesomeness of the overall college experience. And since you’re with your people more, it helps with the homesickness, letting you forget for a while that you’re not with your family because for now, they’re your family.  

I’d like to conclude with a personal anecdote: after a long and tiring day of classes, meetings, and a hasty dinner, I was heading back to my room with no energy left to do anything else. On my way back, through the corridor that leads to my room, I saw a bunch of my friends making plans for a chai date. One of them saw me, realised how exhausted I was upon looking, and asked if I wanted to join them, just so that I could unwind. I wasn’t entirely in the perfect frame of mind since I could feel the weariness running in my bones and I didn’t want to socialise anymore, but I ended up saying yes to the plan eventually. Thereafter, I changed into comfortable clothes and headed to my friend’s room, and by that time, our guy friends had joined us as well. What followed was one of the warmest, most enjoyable, and extremely wholesome nights I had had in a long time. It truly blew my fatigue away. It definitely wouldn’t have been possible without cross access.

Just an army kid trying to find her place in the world. A student at Ashoka University, who aspires to major in psychology and minor in International Relations.
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