I Live with 73 First-Years and Here’s How It’s Going

Based on the title you probably already guessed it ─ yes, I am a Resident Advisor (RA).

About a year ago I got offered a position as an RA here at UC Davis.

Now that I am halfway through my first year in the job, I’ve learned a few things.

Regardless of the two RA classes I took and the two weeks of training I received, nothing prepares you more than actually just doing the job. I’ve dealt with a vast plethora of things, but I am still naïve and lost in certain situations, so I’ll admit, I still have a lot of learning to do.

People may dread the thought of living on the same floor and sharing a bathroom with first-years, but personally, I’ve had a great time.

There is so much youth in these first-years, and although they are a year younger than me, they remind me that it is okay to take a break. I’ll never forget the first time a few of them asked me if I wanted to go out with them. Sure, laugh all you want, but I had a lot of fun. It went something like this:

Residents: Wait … Joyce … You hang out with us, right?

Me: Well as long it is nothing illegal, you know? And … Well, it is kind of my job to be around you all.


Residents: No, we mean like out, out. Like, want to go get some pizza with us in downtown Davis?

*tries not to show the shock that they invited me to join them and that who knows, maybe I am a “cool RA.” *

Me:  YEAH, of course!

I can definitely say that it was at that moment, that it hit me. Not only was I a resource or advisor to these first-years, but they also saw me as a friend; and I realized just how significant the impact I have with them actually is.

Many ask me how I do it. Truth is I know, but I also don’t know.

You see, part of being a good RA is having the personality and the will to be an RA. Being an RA means being there for residents, for good and for worse. Part of it has to do with how you present yourself. If you show yourself as reliable, kind, and equal to them, the residents in time will go to you. You have to be able to show that you are REALLY there for them.

Also, you cannot expect them to go to you all the time. They are adults, slowly learning who they are and where they are headed. They will make mistakes… And that’s okay. I’ve learned to give them space, but at the same time, let them know I am available. Even if it is a simple “Hello” as I am walking down the hallway, they feel acknowledged, and when they need me, they know I will be there.

The other part of being an RA, are the residents themselves. I’ll admit it, I genuinely lucked out with mine.

*Knocks on wood.*

They are the funniest, craziest (in the best way), most creative, fun, outgoing, and unique, bunch of young adults I’ve ever met. One of my favorite parts of being an RA is just the diverse personality pool I have on my floor. I’m never bored!

I am just happy that they trust me, whether it be for relationship advice, vent sessions, Bachelor watch-parties, academics, and more. The relationship I’ve built with them is so much better than what I could have ever imagined. 

So, I guess it has been going pretty well, and I know that once the year is over, I’ll keep in contact with some of my residents and cannot wait to see what the future holds for them.

Author’s Note: I know my experience is unique and that my RA experience is just one, and this may not apply to everybody’s RA experience. This is my story, and I cannot speak for anyone else’s. : )