Alone in Boston: Pt 1

The summer before starting college was one of the most fun and cherished times in my life; my friend group from high school got closer than ever before. We spent almost every day together swimming in the lake, getting ice cream from the local creamery and going for sunset walks. We poured our hearts and fears out to each other in a way we never had, sharing moments of weakness and sadness over leaving home and facing change. 

That summer felt like a fairytale, a dreamscape I often looked back on during my first week in Boston when I romanticized my high school experience and sought comfort from my memories. 

That same summer, I spent the final week of August sharing boogery and blubbering goodbyes with my friends. After packing up everything I could fit into two suitcases, my eldest sister, Randi, and I headed to the airport. The plan was for Randi to accompany me to orientation weekend, stay in my dorm room with me for a few nights and fly out on Monday while my parents drove out to Boston the following weekend with the rest of my belongings. As we headed to the airport, I felt a gut-wrenching nervousness. It was the kind of anxiety that made me feel tight and wound up on the inside, like I’ve been holding your breath for too long. 

Boston definitely gave Randi and me a warm welcome. It was already 97 degrees when we touched down at Logan Airport around 11 in the morning. The heat radiated off the tarmac like a pan of overdone brownies.

We arrived outside Warren Towers over an hour later after struggling to understand the spider-like subway system. Three tall towers loomed over us, connecting at the bottom like a fork. We made our way up the escalator and into the small lobby which was separated from the rest of the dorm by a small office and two gruff-looking security guards.

Obviously irritated from the heat and confusion of the new freshman class, the guards dismissively informed us that visitors were not allowed to stay overnight during move-in weekend. In a panic, Randi and I begged the guard to let her stay the night and she would be gone in the morning. 

To our relief, the guard begrudgingly agreed. As Randi and I took the elevator to the 17th floor, a new realization set in. There was nowhere Randi could stay for the rest of the weekend for a reasonable price and she would have to change her flight and depart the next morning, leaving me all alone for the rest of orientation. 

The state of my dorm room only made me feel worse. It was no bigger than a small classroom, with four raised beds lining each wall, complete with a dresser and desk below. I was the first to arrive and chose a bed opposite the large windows that overlooked all of South Campus. The view was my only reprieve in that room. I smiled to myself as I spotted the stadium lights of Fenway Park. 

The view from the 17th floor of Tower A in Warren Towers. Photo credit: Toni Baraga

I tried to hide my disappointment and sadness over Randi’s sudden departure but I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions. We shared my twin bed that night, trying to enjoy our last moments together. The sweltering heat was our blanket as we slept on the stiff mattress, covered only with a single fitted sheet. 

Randi left promptly the next day. I sat alone in my dorm room and looked out the window over Brookline, feeling small and insignificant. Never in my life had I been so alone and I didn’t know what to do with myself. 

One by one my roommates started to arrive, each as uninterested in socializing with me as the next. They were all quiet and neat, which was nice, but it made adjusting really hard. I expected to be friends with my roommates instantaneously as we bonded over being non-locals and new to campus. I had hoped they would join me for Welcome Week events and we could explore campus and the city together. That dream dissipated quickly, however, as they all turned down my invitation for dinner in the dining hall. 

My first week at Boston University was one of the hardest times in my life. I cried every night under my small blanket so my roommates wouldn’t see. I attempted to make friends but it seemed as if no one was interested. By the time my parents arrived, I still had no friends and no fun adventures to brag about. 

I was broken and insecure. Coming to Boston felt like a huge mistake. I was completely blindsided by the fact that my first week was nothing like what movies or TV shows depicted. There weren’t people on every corner inviting you to parties and club meetings. It seemed as if everyone had found their friend group and already knew what they were doing. 

If there’s anything that I learned from that week, it’s that college may not be what you originally expect. You may not like your roommates and you may not make friends right away. The first week can be extremely lonely and heartbreaking. You might spend your first weekend eating by yourself in the dining hall and watching Netflix in your room, but that’s okay. 

You don’t need to have your new college life figured out in the first week. In fact, no one does. Friends change, classes start and life goes on. Instead of wallowing in the sadness of being alone try to focus on school and put your energy in your academics. Eventually your social life will catch up and the other stuff will work its way out. 


  • Transitioning from high school to college is extremely challenging. It won’t be perfect at first and that’s okay. Taking time to adjust, rather than getting down on yourself, is very important. 
  • Making friends can be difficult. It may not happen right away, but exploring other avenues such as joining clubs and speaking with students in your classes can be great places to meet people.
  • Don’t let your preconceived notions become expectations. Everyone is going to have different experiences adjusting, so take your time and try not to compare yourself to others. 
  • When you’re feeling down about your social life, try to focus on academics instead. Being productive in other aspects of your life can be a good distraction and may also lead to other possibilities of friendship.

My name is Toni Baraga and I am a senior in COM at Boston University studying journalism with a minor in archaeology. I have a passion for writing and I believe that everyone has a story. I have worked as a reporter for various newspapers, such the Somerville Journal and Boston University’s Daily Free Press. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota and reside in Boston.  

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