My dorm, the International House, is not just a dorm: it is a global center. Housing many of UChicago’s international students along with programming for a diverse performance series, I-House (as it is known to many of its residents) is much more than just a place to sleep.
On a typical day strolling through the Rockefeller Lounge on the first floor, I’ll find several students studying on plush couches by roaring fireplaces while one of their peers casually taps out Mozart’s Sonata No. 16 on the Grand. Looking behind them and those comfortable-enough-to-nap-on window seats into the courtyard, I see students discussing Durkheim next to our babbling fountain. On a given day, I usually run into someone I know before I get to the elevator, like a friend from one of the 5 houses in the dorm, or, you know, Madeleine Albright. Yeah, you read that right- one time I casually walked past former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in our lounge. And she wasn’t just making use of our kitchen or basement fitness center: I-House’s performance hall hosts cultural and political speakers frequently through lecture series by the Institute of Politics and the Global Voices Series. Guests such as the senior advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and the cast of Pod Save America have all spoken through the Global Voices Performing Arts and Lecture Series mere feet from my dorm room.
My house, Breckinridge, occupies floors 9 through 12 in the International House- which means that students from our house live in the towers! We are known as being one of the most enthusiastic houses on campus. Home to both of the founders of Humans vs. Zombies (a week-long survival game in which ‘human’ students try to avoid being tagged by ‘zombie’ students by shooting them with nerf guns), our three floor collection annually becomes an arena of sneak-attacks, strewn with nerf gun pellets, socks, and pool noodles from the campus-wide game. On the first day of each quarter, we wake ourselves up (sometimes as early as 4:30am!) to head to Promontory Point to watch the sunrise. And, being huge participants in Scav, the annual massive scavenger hunt across campus (and even the world, as some items are that spread out!), our lounge space is transformed into a giant-paper-mache-cat-head construction site / Game-of-Thrones-style-throne painting area / UChicago-themed-spoof-of-Ocean’s-11 movie set. We raise money for our Scav team by selling items in a house-wide auction. This year, I auctioned off a roast (and I don’t mean the meat). I offered, to anyone that wanted it, to publicly perform a set of insulting jokes about them- and this item, along with my inspirational music video about the buyer, made a good amount of money!
I chose I-House as my dorm because of the speaker and performance series in the building as well as quick access to transit, the in-dorm fitness center, and the availability of single rooms. However, from living here for a year in Breckinridge house, I have learned that there is much more to a dorm than the building and its amenities. I-House has truly become my home.