My last week in the SV Office was spent mostly packing it up and getting ready for the move up to Hitch. That whole last week was kind of really sad for me because I was the last one in the office. It used to be Kevin, Violet, and me. Nothing felt more real that the year was almost over than Violet leaving and me being the last one there. A little piece of me really dreaded that last week because it felt so empty to be alone in a shared office that had so many experiences. I know it sounds really dramatic, but I’m a very sentimental person. Just seeing it empty wasn’t the same as what that office had been to #SVGarbage that year.
My first week in Hitch was basically just 3 days because I was gone for two of the 5 days. That whole first week was more of adjusting to the move. I was now walking from Courtside to Hitch, and my “commute” to work had gone from 2 minutes to 10 minutes (15 if I was walking slow and taking the long way). Hitch is nothing like the SV Office. The traffic of students was significantly less and there was such a stillness in the area. Not to mention, the uniqueness of its architecture really had me figuring out what in the world was really going on in Hitch and just having to understand the building. Oh, and the whole first week was just plain interesting because I was the RD, ARD, and Office Assistant (OA) all in one. I was spending lots of alone time in the office – forcing me to get work done. The two days I wasn’t at work… there was the holiday and then I was at Universal because it was a co-worker’s birthday.
I hadn’t felt such an intense anxiety in a long time as I did in this week. I literally don’t remember what I did this week (other than my boss coming back from vacation, so I was no longer alone in the office) because I spent the whole week focusing on the GRE. Exams and I just don’t see eye-to-eye and the exam was at the end of the week. At this point, I had spent 6 and a half months studying (I know, I’m crazy) and how I did on the day of the exam, there was nothing I could really do about it because I had tried my best. My anxiety was so high, I rearranged office supplies in the office to just calm down. Being done with the exam was the most relief I felt.
Over the weekend, I had basically redesigned a portion of my room with changing two tapestries and putting in a new pink one and putting a Hogwarts castle one. Then moved the 200+ polaroid wall to near my bed, then creating a new polaroid wall of 100+ from this past year’s photos. Basically playing the catch up game of putting up new polaroids. THEN! I come back to work post-GRE being over and suddenly, it felt like I had a million things I needed to do. First on the list was reorganizing the centralized programming closet for The Hill. I swear, I thought I needed like 3 showers after getting through the sorting. It was a mess, but I was pretty proud of the outcome. The second was that I was asked to serve as the Programming Advisor for the Summer Session Institute RAs for the duration of the summer. That was fun because it felt like I had a staff team again while my Hitch team was still on vacation. Plus, their budget was ridiculously fun. lol. The last of the week… I got my wisdom teeth pulled. All four. The sedation didn’t fully work and I was only half asleep during the procedure (not what I wanted), but I swear, the whole thing only felt like it was only 5 minutes. Then spent the whole weekend with my chipmunk cheeks. I was also upset I couldn’t eat properly. Pretty frustrated for a long while there. But I was eating whole food again after about a week and a half.
Now that I was basically only half functional, it was a good thing we got through the hardest part of sorting the centralized programming closet. This time around, we just had the inventory and barcoding. Who needs 12 griddles? Apparently UCLA ResLife, haha. So that was an experience. Up in Hitch, getting OAs was exciting because I made them do work – like redesigning Hitch’s inventory stuff. I just wanted everything to be nice, compact, and accounted for. Oh, I also spent half the week creating an OA manual. Now THAT was a true experience. I think I was just thoroughly amused that I basically created a book for my OAs to navigate around in trying to understand their job. It was such a fun experience, lol. Oh, the biggest thing – I hit my ONE YEAR in UCLA ResLife. That was never in the plan because I was supposed to be headed off to grad school, but I’m glad I got to do this another year.
We’ve got new ResLife people starting this week! The new RDs and ARDs officially start this week and it was just a lot of fun to see fresh faces in the department. It’s also kind of a relief and an “energy boost” to have people who are excited to be here. Like, I was there last year. Excited as much as overwhelmed. Because there are new people, I was someone’s buddy last year and now I got to be a buddy to someone else. It’s so much fun because I see a lot of myself last year and the excitement she has for the role. We also just share the same energy, lol. I’ve also started to try and figure out how to make the Hitchen work because… only kitchen on The Hill is quite popular for everyone. So, I’m really just trying to figure out how to make it work for everyone managing it (in addition to me). This week also had a lot of celebrations featuring a fellow ARD’s apartment welcome, brunch with the ARDs, and another coworker’s apartment welcome + birthday party. This week has been a lot of a lot of things. Lastly, I had my first grad school webinar this week. That was an experience. An hour goes by fast and capturing all the information was already a lot. This basically started my freaking out for grad school (*insert awkward laughing here*).
I worked for like two days and then we were off to ProStaff TTD (Team Training and Development – basically retreat). This was the second time I was going to be at TTD and something about this year was just significantly different than last year. For one, I really missed Violet because we were roomies last year, but the actual itinerary of TTD this year was just upped from last year. Though, the first thing to note was that we had this beautiful AF view of the ocean (because Kevin made me look for the room with a view). It was SO nice to have the view of the ocean while I was getting ready. The bigger value was in training. We had two activities that kind of struck me and they were (1) visiting a local something for training and (2) storytelling with two items. The reason the first one struck me was because the location we got to visit was the LGBT Center and the people just welcomed us so wholeheartedly and shared so much of their story. They were doing so much for their community over such a long time and we learned so much. The takeaway from the experience was just so positive. The second was that it wasn’t a moment I thought I was going to tear up a bit and I did. It gets really tough for me to share bits of myself and to have been able to do that was something else. Then (of course), there was the ARD bonding every night of TTD. We’re just a lot as a group and it was really nice for us to continue some traditions from the year before and I genuinely appreciated that.
This week started tough for me. Mostly because I knew Violet was leaving for Miami and even though I knew when that would be, I just wasn’t ready for it. Even though she wasn’t going to be that far away and I could always still talk to her, there was a toughness in me that just felt like she was just… far. Then we had Engagement Model training and for some reason, my insecurities and imposter syndrome were just at a high. I just felt like all the things I was proud of last year in my accomplishments kind of sucked, especially after comparing myself to fellow ARDs. I just had this feeling of lowness and wanted to hide in a shell, feeling like whatever I did last year should’ve been better. I had to take a moment to sit down and remind myself that I was doing what I needed to. We also had our Court Mixer this week and Nina made us go on a hike. Low-impact and easy hike, but still a hike. She’s lucky the view was worth it and fed us with popcorn chicken and boba after the hike. The week ended with me training our OAs. This was something I was really proud of because I also was able to finally share my fully completed OA Manual with everyone. I spent so much time putting it together, cultivating it from information in different OA Manuals from other buildings, so the outcome made me really proud. Sometimes, I do smart things.
This week was almost a blur. I spent the whole week on training-related things. From understanding this new system we’re trial running (Roompact) to planning out our Court Welcome program to re-arranging the Hitch Facilities Closet to prepping a bunch of training things. My mind was basically running a hundred miles an hour and I was just trying to stay on top of everything.
Another week that started tough for me – my best friend left for med school. I’m so proud of him and I’m proud of the things that he’s about to accomplish because he deserves that, but I literally just had another one of my closest friends leave 2 weeks before and I was still adjusting. So there was that part of me that was just really sad, but I’m proud of where they’re going in their lives. Last week, my mind was running 100mph. This week, I’m pretty sure it was at about 250mph just trying to get everything done in time for training – specifically my Engagement Model. That Imposter Syndrome hitting me about my engagement model from the year before really took a toll that I went back into my stuff and basically recreated an entirely new engagement model and also created an Engagement Resources Booklet. I know, I’m crazy. I spent all of Thursday of this week prepping the binders and ResLife bags so that everyone had their binders, snacks, and whatever else I added to their bags by the time they moved in. Hauling everything from Hitch to Sproul Hall (top of The Hill to halfway done) was a mission. My arms were sore the next day, but still managed it! The week ended really nicely with one of my staff member from last year visiting me to drop off a gift with a letter. The content of the letter actually had me low-key crying because it was just what I needed to hear (or read, I guess) right before Student Staff Training started up again. It made me feel successful as a supervisor, especially because sometimes I just struggle to see myself as “successful” and constantly question myself. It was a reminder that there are people who see me doing well in my role.
Student Staff Training officially starts again and you know what that means… I have no social life for the next month. Training was switched up a bit this year. We started with a Welcome, as we usually do. Then jumped straight into Social Justice Days (which was changed from last year). Following two days of social justice, we had Safety and Security (a series of rotations between Active Shooter, Smoke School, and Fire Extinguisher trainings). I talked a whole lot in the afternoon. The team went to First Fridays at Venice that night then went to Oxnard early Saturday morning for the beach. We ended up in a REALLY nice Airbnb house that we spent overnight in for our Team TTD. When I say that house was nice, IT WAS SO NICE. Then dove into Week 2 of training right after that. I had three sessions this week: one recharge session on Fauxligraphy 101 (which I took after my buddy from last year) and two Social Justice sessions.
Training Week 2 started off with Engagement Day – which is literally my favorite day of training, because this is where I’m my best. This is where I can shine and where I know things the best. The day after, we did Mental Health Day – which is the HEAVIEST day of training, mostly because of the contents of the training sessions. Next was Conduct and Duty. I was really happy that Kevin got to see his Escape Room style training session happen this year because he didn’t get to see it last year. My role this year was to act as a distressed student and of course, I had to be told to act less distressed because the students thought they needed to write an IR for me. Whoops? Haha. Final day of training was Behind Closed Doors – which is a simulation of various encounters RAs may experience. I didn’t go on their rotations with them this year so that I could catch up on some of the two weeks worth of work I needed to do because I’ve been gone for training. Then spent a large portion of the afternoon with my RGCs and their role, along with how they’re feeling about the reconstruction. My favorite part about that was that I could see just how passionate they are about their jobs and wanting to make an impact. It never fails to amaze me with the kind of commitment the students have. Training ended with the Kickoff in the morning where people told their #myResLife stories and did roll calls for all the teams. Then there was the Kickback in the afternoon featuring inflatables, face painting, caricature artists, balloon artist, arcade games, and waaaaaay too many prizes. How UCLA ResLife managed to carry that out – I have no idea. One thing is for sure: our student staff deserved to enjoy after a long two weeks of hard work.
The end of my 12-day work week came to an end pretty quickly and I was exhausted. Honestly, it felt like the whole summer kind of meshed into the last few weeks rather than 2 and a half months – but that’s ResLife. That’s what it’s like to work in HigherEd. You’re constantly on your toes and at the edge of your seat. You’re constantly having to prepare and be ready. It is absolutely exhausting to be in this cycle because it always feels like you’re running on a hamster wheel. It doesn’t feel like it ever slows down. But you know what’s amazing about it… the students. They are SO worth all the tiredness and exhaustion. To see them feel excited for their role, to see that their passion for the job is so visible – it’s refreshing. They are why I do this, and they are why I’m going to continue doing this. Because they are worth It.
Until next time,
ARD Jamrensze “J-Mi” De Leon