I pause the episode of Grown-ish on my laptop and check the time: 9:10. I’ve officially been here for three hours, and my body is aching. I look around the small, cramped space and see my laptop, my notebook, my pen, my Italian textbook, and a small water bottle taking up the limited floor space. I check how much time I have remaining in the episode: five minutes. Right now, I’m inside a small janitor’s closet located on the sixth floor of International House. Why have I been in the janitor’s closet for three hours? Well, you’re about to find out…
“Alright,” I tell myself, “once this episode is over, I’m going back to my room. I can’t take this anymore.” I’m about to press play, but I hear the familiar creak of a room door being opened. I freeze. Is this the moment I’ve been waiting for? I tentatively grab my water bottle and peak through the small crack of the open closet door, careful to make as little noise as possible. Through the small crack, I see that this is what I was waiting for: my friend and housemate Joalda walks sluggishly down the hall in the direction of the bathroom. Crouched in the cramped janitor’s closet, I wait for her to exit the bathroom and head back to her room. My heart is beating so hard I’m almost certain it can be heard down the silent hallway. I hear faint footsteps and suddenly she’s right there, exiting the bathroom. I have about 15 seconds before she makes it to her room and I miss my opportunity.
I quietly open the door to the closet with my right hand, gipping my water bottle in my left hand. Ten seconds left. I step out into the hallway and am temporarily blinded by the sudden exposure to bright light. Eight seconds. Her back is turned to me, so as long as I remain quiet, I’ll maintain the element of surprise. If she suddenly hears me, she’s close enough to her room to run inside before I get to her, and my chance will be gone. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. And I can’t wait. Not when I’m so close to victory. I’m wearing socks and no shoes, so my footsteps don’t make any noise when I try to sneak up on her. Unfortunately, that means I have to do an awkward combination of tip-toeing and jogging as I try not to slip on the tiled floor. Three seconds. I just need to get a little closer, I can’t afford to try from here and miss. She reaches for the handle of her door and I decide that it’s now or never. I let out a gleeful shout as I point the top of my water bottle in her direction and give it a hard squeeze. She suddenly looks up and her eyes widen in shock. We both watch, breathless, as a considerable amount of water arcs through the air and lands on her arm, neck, and face. For a few seconds neither of us says anything. Then it finally sets in….
“I win! I win! Joalda, I’m so sorry you had to go out like that, but I win! Oh my gosh, that feels good.” I do some awkward victory dance that would definitely have looked better had my legs joints not been completely sore and achy from three hours of torment.
“I knew something was suspicious when I saw the janitor door was cracked, but I was too worried about going to the bathroom to care,” she says.
I smile at that. “Wanna head to the lounge with me to tell Shorey of my victory?”
“Sure. Let’s go.”
It’s the third week of Winter Quarter, and I’ve just won Shorey House’s quarterly game of Assassins, one of my favorite house traditions. Assassins is a complicated game in which players are assigned a target and have to spray their target with water. Players keep eliminating targets until there is only one assassin standing, and then that person becomes the victor.
Of course, places such as class, libraries, your room, and bathrooms serve as safe spaces. In these spots, no one can eliminate you from the game. This is why I was so determined to eliminate Joalda while she was in the hallway before she was able to make it to the safety of her room.
The housing system at UChicago has definitely been my favorite part about the College. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else, and it’s been my easiest method of making new friends as a first year who knew no one else on campus prior to coming to UChicago. When you are placed in a residence hall on campus, you are also placed in a house inside that residence hall. Houses are microcosms of the campus community at large and are made up of students of all years. Each house also has at least one Resident Assistant (RA); this is a returning student who is there to give their residents advice, lead house trips, host study breaks, and much more in order to make the transition to college life easier and more enjoyable for their residents. My house is Shorey, a small house of only 55 people located in the residence hall known as International House, or I-House as we call it.
My favorite aspect of the housing system is the traditions that each house has. These traditions are fun ways for house RAs to create unique living experiences for their residents. Assassins is a fun game that Shoreyites (people who live in Shorey) look forward to each quarter. It’s a great way for people to take their mind off of classes and just spice up residence life. Of course, the game does get a bit intense at times, like when our RA chased my roommate at full speed all the way across the quad until my roommate was able to take refuge in Harper Memorial Library. Or people like me, who subject themselves to three hours of waiting in a cramped space in order to win. However, we Shoreyites love bonding over these memories that end up bringing us closer as a house.