Full disclosure: if you can’t tell by our bylines, we’re sisters. We’re 20 months (but two grades) apart, which means that when Charlotte—now a sophomore—was a junior in high school, Meredith—now a senior—was a freshman at Brown. We hash out the dos and don’ts of entertaining your little sib during Family Weekend through the lens of our own Family Weekend experience. Take our word for it; we’ve been there, and we’ve certainly done that.
Meredith: I was thrilled that my younger sister Charlotte was coming to visit me during Family Weekend of my freshman year. I obviously was excited to see my parents after the most formative (not really) one-and-a-half months of my life, but I was glad my little sister was coming up to Providence, too. For one, she would push my mother—whose boundless energy is often compared to that of Bob the Builder—and my father—who wants nothing more in life than to plant himself in a used bookstore for hours on end—to meet somewhere in the middle. (I naturally hoped this “somewhere” involved good food and shopping.) Secondly, I was well aware that Charlotte, already in the trying and arduous college-search process, would be considering Brown as a potential option for herself.
TL;DR: I wanted to get her drunk.
Duh. Of course I did. College is college, and junior year of high school is… well, junior year of high school. She was stressed out, and I wanted her to unwind. About a week before Charlotte was due to arrive, I informed her of our potential weekend options. Keeney parties (obviously)! Frats! Sports houses! _[Insert every other freshman weekend stop here]__! The weekend was going to be perfect, and Charlotte was definitely going to have a good time.
Charlotte: Words cannot express how excited I was to see
Meredith Merbz. I was the only child left at home. At that point, the only perk of ridin’ solo was finally having the bathroom, which used to be shared among three sisters, all to myself (to my younger audience: the perks come later, don’t you worry). I wanted to finally see all of the places she had been telling me about, and I spent the whole car ride to Providence telling my parents how excited I was to try the sandwiches in the Red Room (or was it the Green Room?) and to see the AQR where Meredith and I would sometimes video chat, albeit silently. I don’t remember much about the car ride up besides letting my mind run wild about all of the fun we were going to have, because let’s be real, being in the backseat all alone is pretty darn lonely… so lonely that I think I even made a short-lived Twitter account from my phone.
Meredith: Fast-forward to Friday night: Nothing was going on. At all. My friends were MIA. I panicked a little bit, more than one probably should have in this type of situation. I had set the expectations for the night wayyy too high. Nevertheless, I finally got word that some of my friends were gathering in a Keeney dorm room, and I expected there to be a pregame for some event that we’d move on to later. Rushing to get ready in time and preoccupied about whether or not Charlotte was enjoying herself, I became irrationally testy. Curious about what one typically wears out on a Friday night, Charlotte asked me if she could wear our dad’s old over-sized flannel shirt to the pregame. I scoffed at the idea (I’m actually pretty sure I laughed in her face) because we were going out, and no one wears dad shirts out. She got mad at me for being unreasonable. Whatever guys, I was getting ready to rage (#COLLLLLEGE). I certainly wasn’t trying to be a lumberjack, and I didn’t want Charlotte to look like one, either.
We got to the pregame, which wasn’t actually a pregame but a room full of about ten people sitting on the floor drinking wine. I was emotionally exhausted. We stayed for five minutes—during which every single person in the room complimented Charlotte on her flannel—and then went back to my room. I lost Family Weekend. (I also promise that I’m not actually a horrible human being. I love my sister very much. <3)
Charlotte: When I got to campus, I was so excited to see everything. This was a few months before I started the college tour shenanigans (lolz), so from the moment I stepped foot on campus, I became a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed prospie. I made sweeping generalizations and drew inaccurate conclusions about the things I encountered on campus: I saw two girls in dresses and commented that I’d never be able to wear my staple—the over-sized button-down flannel—at Brown (also lolz). Walking through Keeney quad, I heard someone blasting music from his dorm room; I asked if all Brown students started going out at 5 p.m. as if that were a thing that people learned from Morning Mail.
On Friday night, campus was dead. Meredith said she was going to take me to a “room party” to which I asked if I could wear my flannel. She said no. We fought. I wore my flannel. There were ten people sitting on beds and a few bottles of alcohol on the floor. We stayed for five minutes and then left to watch SNL and snuggle, which was the best thing I could have asked for. We spent Saturday afternoon doing work and exploring Providence (read: Wickenden) while our parents went to various lectures. I don’t even think we tried to go out Saturday night.
Our advice. Here’s what we learned from our Family Weekend experience:
- Go with the flow. If you’re hosting your sibling, be sure not to set the bar too high. That said, if you are the sibling, accept the fact that some weekends are better than others; if this happens to be one of the slower weekends of the semester, so be it. The more you try to provide or create the “classic” college experience, the more upset you’ll become when your night doesn’t take shape exactly the way that you hoped it would. You obviously want you sibling to enjoy his/herself, and a good way to do this is to…
- Ask your sibling what he/she wants to do. Be clear upfront that this weekend is for your sibling to explore Brown and get a glimpse into your experience, whatever that means to you. Make sure he/she is transparent with you; if your sibling says, “I really don’t care at all,” push back a bit. Allow him/her to help you structure your time together by making sure you can hit all the main spots on campus (and in town) he/she wants to see over the course of the weekend.
- Don’t rule out relaxation. You don’t need to rage to show your sibling a good time—the best times with family members often are those when you’re able to regress and fall back into dynamic you grew up with. Don’t underestimate the value of a quality snuggle sesh.
- Stay patient. Your sibling is going to ask a lot of questions. It’s easy to take your college experience and life at Brown for granted, even within the first few months of your freshman year. Humor your sib and have a little empathy; try to remember back to the days before Brunonia and how many questions you had about college life. Who knows, maybe they’ll be joining you on your stomping ground sooner than you think.