Resident assistants (RAs) are fountains of knowledge when it comes the unknowns and complexities of life at university. Whether it's navigating the social ins and outs of living with strangers, juggling demanding class schedules, or homesickness, RAs are always around to lend an ear.
Introductions between RAs and students start early at NYU Abu Dhabi. During the long summer between acceptance and arrival on campus, I was contacted by Isabella Peralta, resident assistant, who offered a bit of advice and even sent a checklist of items to pack. After weeks of trying to negotiate luggage space, the packing list was a blessing.
Since then I've discovered that compared to all the duties RAs juggle every day, comprehensive checklists are a miniscule task. RAs are guides, advisors and friends, and sometimes parental figures.
RAs are trained to help students with issues like homesickness and roommate conflicts and form a vital support system at NYUAD. As owners of emergency kits and vacuum cleaners, and keepers of valuable washing machine-related knowledge, they are the pillars of life in residence.
RAs live in apartments on each floor, which allows them “to develop good connections with residents," said Peralta. “Residents can just come up to me, knock on my door, ask to have tea and chat. I’m here to listen to what you have to say,” she added, as we chat in our floor lounge, which is done up with paper flowers, poetry and inspirational photographs.
Residents can just come up to me, knock on my door, ask to have tea and chat. I’m here to listen to what you have to say.
RAs also organize bi-monthly floor events like Brownie Sundays and spa nights, facilitating connections among students. Residents who attend events frequently even get prizes (an incentive to have fun!) because an RA's goal is “to help freshmen have a better first year at university,” Peralta explained.
And the little things they do for students go a long way too. Once in a while, you may find a chocolate bar sitting outside your room with your name written on it. On a good day – or on a particularly hard day, when you need cheering up – you may even find a handwritten note of appreciation stuck to your door, waiting to be discovered. That’s your RA at NYUAD: mentor and friend.