July 14, 2024

Home away from home


This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood

It’s one of my favorite places on campus. There are free muffins and cookies, fun activities and plenty of friendly people. Best of all, there are awesome classes.

The LDS Institute of Religion is a great place to hang out. It’s where I spend most of my time outside of classes and where I do a lot of my socializing. It’s a safe environment among the wacky and wild ways of college, and provides a chance every day to get away from the world and relax. Though I’m a bit quiet at times and struggle reaching out to others, I find myself at home and at peace when entering the institute.

There’s a lot I enjoy about the institute. There are a ton of awesome activities, events and classes held every week, but the simplest ones are Muffin Monday and Cookie Tuesday. As their names suggest, they serve free muffins and cookies to anyone who wants one… or two.

They’re little weekly happenings, a regular part of the institute groove, but something I look forward to with eagerness. Who does not love a free muffin or want free cookies? On more than one occasion, they have been the little pick-me-ups that have turned my day around.

The Institute also holds activities every month. Though I don’t get to go to them often, I’ve enjoyed the few I’ve attended. When I go, I get to chat with people I never had the chance to know in high school, and I get to meet new people I may not have met otherwise. It’s a fun aspect of Institute, one that many others enjoy and thrive in, but it’s not my favorite. In fact, at times, it’s far from it.

I’ve always had a hard time reaching out to others and working beyond my comfort zone. I love talking to people and being around others, but I’m the definition of shy. I don’t know what to say to people when I first meet them, and when I try thinking of something, I get so nervous about making the wrong first impression that I don’t say anything at all. More often than not, they take my silence as an invitation to leave me be and I’m left with only my thoughts as my companion.
It’s exasperating. I get nervous when I try to be outgoing, but when I’m actually talkative, I’m shunned or ignored. I’m excluded from big group hang outs, and only informed of their happening after they happened. Though the Institute is supposed to be a place of welcome and friendship, it at times feels more like a gathering of cliques. Yet in spite of this, I still love going to the Institute.

True, I’m not always included; I often feel forgotten, unneeded and unwanted. At times, I question why I go to the Institute when most of my friends either aren’t there or will be leaving soon. But then, when I’m in my D&C or Relationships class, or when attending Friday Forum, I feel that peace I yearn for every day.

I remember that even if no one talks to me, I am loved. My contribution matters and no matter what anyone says, I am wanted. I’m needed. I’m important. I go to Institute for a reason. I go to grow, to learn and become closer with my Savior. I go because I know it is right, because it is what I need and what I love.

When I think about it, the institute and its students are like a family. It’s a warm and safe place despite its imperfections and flaws. It’s a place to rest and seek refuge, to stress and freak out and to cry and break down. It’s a home away from home, a place where we can be broken down and built up again stronger. It’s one of the places I feel most welcome on campus, and it’s a place I look forward to visiting every day.