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#HonorsProblems – Making the Honors Program a Home

Today’s #HonorsProblems post is written by graduating senior Eleanor Klibanoff.

Eleanor Klibanoff

Eleanor Klibanoff

My name is Eleanor, but you might know me as the girl at the front desk. (Or maybe as the future champion of the ultimate Crab Rangoon Showdown of 2014.) I’m a senior, working part-time and socializing full-time at the Honors townhouse on Foggy Bottom. It might surprise you to know that I haven’t always been so involved with the UHP.

I didn’t live in Honors housing freshman year, and didn’t hang out around the townhouse. I worked my hours and attended some events, but in general, I felt a little intimidated. Everyone seemed like they already had their honors friends from their dorm or classes, and I had kind of missed that boat. That was fine—I joined other groups and met other people. The UHP was a work-study job and a place to take classes. That was all they promised, after all.

My freshman year was fun and easy, something not everyone can say. That’s why my sophomore slump came as such a surprise. Classes were harder than ever, and I started to fall behind. I was living with different people and felt like I was losing touch with old friends. I spent more time in bed watching Netflix, and less time having the massive amounts of fun that I imagined occupied everyone else on this campus.

I was feeling pretty low a lot of the time, but like most 19-year-olds, I didn’t want to ask for help. What would I do? Wander into a therapist’s office and say I’d been feeling ‘meh’ for a while? That’s not something a therapist could help with, I thought. (Honors kids can be dumb too, apparently.) I was just—off.

But eventually, I did see someone at the University Counseling Center who told me to get out bed and go out more. Be social, she said. Participate in your own life!

The front door of the UHP townhouse: a great place to find oneself.

The front door of the UHP townhouse: a great place to find oneself.

That seemed like the most obvious (and secretly scary) advice in the world. Go out more? Be social? Participate? By this point, I was more inclined to get back under the covers and stay there than to participate. But I knew I had to try. And the first step of that effort took me to the front door of the Honors townhouse.

I didn’t know many people in the program personally. They weren’t my best friends; at most, I recognized some of them from class. But they were there—all the time. There’s a student staffing the front desk every day. Jared is willing to talk so much you can’t hear your own thoughts. Professors swing by to talk about their classes, SPA hang up signs for events and club room events spill into the front office.

Spend enough time there and you simply become part of the community. Before long, Eydie took notice if I was having a bad day and we’d talk. Or she’d offer a cookie, which can sometimes be enough. Catherine would stop by and offer advice, which felt far less intimidating than making a whole appointment. Upperclassmen told me their own stories of sophomore slumps, and then told me how much better it gets. I stood at the big map with a senior and picked a place to run away for the summer. And then we talked about places everyone had traveled, how they funded it, and what it would be like to just…go.

There, at 714 21st St., the Honors Program put me back together, a slow process that took a village. We all need people to talk to, people to put us back together. I highly recommend starting at the townhouse.


Yarr! Sticking on some tattoos at a UHP pumpkin carving party.

Make an appointment with Catherine and Mark, the trained professionals. But when you do, come early and stay after. And make sure to take advantage of study hours. Come hang out. Eat cookies. Drink coffee. Do homework. Bring friends.

We’ll talk about study abroad, and homework problems, and post-grad life, and argue about whether Game of Thrones or House of Cards has more applicable lessons of political maneuvering in the modern world. We’ll talk about your feelings, or we won’t. We’ll talk about cookies and One Direction. We’ll talk about fixing your sophomore slump, and I’ll tell you how much better it gets. We’ll stand at the map and pick places to go.

There are some problems the townhouse can’t fix, I know. But if you feel yourself going into a dark place, or a dimly lit place, or a slightly less sunny place, just remember: you can always, always come home.

Making the UHP a home.

Making the UHP a home.