I’m supposed to come up with something supportive and educational to explain tomorrow to my colleges what it is like to work, where I work. Well, you know I work at dorm. Only all the dorms are different and with this year’s changes I must explain now what it is that we do here.
I don’t know where to begin. But I should figure it out tonight.
Understand that they are students, but differently from our students, they have no sense of responsibility for their actions in the other end of the world. Their understanding of student life is very different and to most their heroes are from movies – drinking is part of the deal.
They drink and thus there are more problems regarding that. It is fruitless to demand they don’t drink at all, but don’t let them get away with it. Don’t make exceptions like ok, you can be here with drink while you ten minutes ago told the other otherwise. They’ll thrive on that.
They are loud even without drinking. It doesn’t always mean it’s a party, it’s just who they are. It is best to leave all you think you know about nationalities aside and just see how it works out. Some are like blueprints of nationalities, others are total opposites.
What else? Don’t fall on their level and pick a fight. Power games are not part of our job. You pick fight, they’ll turn it into personal vendetta. They arrange parties on your shifts, they’ll arrange “gifts” for you to find. Don’t take it personally. I know how hard that is, but remember – sun always comes out in the morning and they go home.
If they are drunk, they lie. Don’t rely on having 10 people beside you in the room. If there comes the moment they must write explanation letters, you find that you are so awful person as one can get. And oh, you’ll be racist, homophobic, xenophobe… any –phobe and –ist in the book. Take it, sleep on it, forget it. If there is an argument and this comes up, take it as a sign that they are clutching to the last straws. There is nothing personal about it. If in the next day they apologize – take it and forget the situation took place. Don’t carry grudge – they can smell it.
Get used to idea of being internet celebrity. It’s part of our life. Accordingly – always control yourself and if something happens, keep calm. It happens. I don’t even know anymore, how many videos I’m in or how many photos I’ve ended up in. That’s not you. That’s your job.
Don’t give promises or make threats you can’t back up. And you won’t be able to back them up, so restrain yourself from making any threats at all. What seems as a good threat in the night will be tested out in the following morning and unless you have firm backing it up, you must press down that urge.
Oh, and if they start playing hide-n-seek, don’t join in.
The reality is it is a hard job. Today I’ve argued two law students over how much and how they should clean their apartment. I’ve had to call numerous taxies and search for cheep gifts to take home. I was spat on. I had to calm student, who got a small meltdown and sorted disagreement with the office. I’ve had to search for missing package and dealt with desperate parent, who had lost contact with their son.
None of it is in my job description, but that’s what we do here. We help them, we solve their problems and we offer support. They are far from home and we are often the first they’ll turn to. So, despite all the extra work and frustration we get, it is important we let the anger go and take them as the people they are. Yes, some of them are manipulative and some are non-stop party people, but if time comes, they are people like any other. Our daily work is like fortifying for the future – they do something surprising, we make sure it doesn’t happen again.
So what would be the supportive words to give to your colleges, to any college landladies out there and administrators in frontline?
Chin up, swing in your steps and nerves of steel! You can do it!