The following was written after two years of living at BFA as a resident assistant in a dorm. The school wanted something to give to potential staff who would be filling the similar positions.....
Being Male, Being Single, Being BFA
So you are a single guy heading to the dorm life of Black Forest Academy. You probably have grand ideas and noble visions about what you are about to be a part of. Well, don't let me quash those, but allow me a few minutes to tell you some things they don't tell you in the brochures. I am not down on what I am going to say, but if you hear it now, you will be prepared. Some of these are lessons I've learned the hard way, others I have learned by others making them, several I am still learning. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn.
Privacy, what is it? I have almost forgotten what privacy is, and if you are not careful you will as well. See living in the dorms is great, but you live with a lot of people. Everyone in the dorm is watching you at all times, and if that is not scary, many in the BFA and Kandern communities will have their eyes on you. It is not that they are nosy, but there is a large void of entertainment here, so for some people watching is a hobby. You need to make sure that you make an effort to keep some private areas to your life. You don't need to let everyone know everything about yourself. You also need to have some places you can hide, whether that is in your room, in the woods, a favorite restaurant, or what. You need to find somewhere you can just be you, away from the work, the kids, and even your coworkers sometimes.
Social life, what is it? Again, this is something that gets moved to the back burner during your time as an RA. I am not saying it is impossible, but it is not easy. See as an RA, your free time is limited to a couple hours in the afternoon, one day a week, and one weekend a month. Now if you do the math, you realize that is roughly 150 hours a month. Then you need to remember that some of that time is used for sleep, or sucked by extra work. So you want to use the most of that time to hang out and have fun with your fellow BFA staff, but then you remember that the teachers work during the afternoons, and have of the RAs have a different day off than you do. Get the picture?
Dating, what is it? If you hadn't guessed by the social life section, dating is even more remote, but they tell me it can happen. This is a funny area, I think, as this is a major form of entertainment for some of the staff. Not the actual dating, but following the rumors, pairing the people up, and even praying that specific people would get together. Unless trends change, there will be about five or six single females for every single male in the greater BFA community. Sounds good, but beware! See is is a tricky thing as well. I was advised to make every step in this area very thought out. You are dealing already with a tricky area of life, but when you put in in a fishbowl, it gets even tougher. Kids watch this as well, so you don't want to be a bad example in your dealings with the opposite sex. Plus, the gals talk, and you don't want to get on their bad side as well.
Automatic transmission, what is it? All vans you will drive are stick shift. Get used to it quick.
And now some random free flowing thoughts about frustrations you might encounter, pet peeves of min, good advice, and tips to help you survive and enjoy your time here at BFA....
Friendships.... Make them quick. Keep short accounts of wrongs with your friends. Never think you can be best friends with the students, nor will they be your best friends. This is dangerous, your best friends need to be your peers. You shouldn't be sharing some things with students, like your frustrations with other students or staff. Also, remember you will never be great friends with everyone on staff, or even all your coworkers in your dorm. That is not a huge problem, just life.
Time off... Make the most of it. Know how best you are recharged. Do you need to be with people, or alone? Do you need a lot of sleep, or does that do you worse? Also find out who clicks with you, and try to get the same day off. Ask the seasoned staff for good places to go both locally and far away.