STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
College usually marks a huge transition in a young person’s life. Moving away from home, and all that is known and loved, to come to an entirely new place can be difficult. Some students here at Drake University are able to share the experience with someone close from home though: their siblings.
Ryan and Bridget Tunink, first-year twins at Drake University, have benefited from having each other around.
“I thought I would see him a lot more than I do, but I see him maybe once a week. When I’m homesick, though, even though we’re only twenty minutes away, I can text him saying come hang out with me. It’s different now, because in high school we were always together,” pre-pharmacy major Bridget said. “It’s different now.”
Ryan, a politics major, chimed in when his sister said she thought she would see him around more.
“I was praying we wouldn’t (see each other that much),” he said.
Others with siblings at Drake felt the same way as Ryan Tunink, such as Hannah Mikkalson, a junior biology major.
“College is a place of self-discovery and having to go through a lot of challenges,” she said. “While we both want to have our own experiences and our own identities, it’s been difficult being at the same place.”
Junior health science major Layton Mikkalson agreed with his sister.
“I wasn’t super close with Hannah before college, but I know who she is as a person. I’ve realized a few things about her and myself while being here that comes with maturing. I definitely don’t think we’ve stayed the same people,” he said. “But it’s been kind of nice having someone here who knows the old me, and can call me out if I’m not being the real me.”
Jessica Richter, a sophomore music business major, also had something to say on the topic of going to the same school as her identical twin sister Allison and yet being able to have her own identity.
“At first it was hard for me. College was a way for me to branch out, and the fact that my sister was here made me feel like I was disabled from doing that,” Richter said. “I still kind of feel that way now, but I know that I shouldn’t. It’s so easy to be my own person.”
Like any siblings, these students grew up together all siblings are the same age -— the Tuninks and Richters are twins and the Mikkalsons are triplets, although their other sister goes to the University of Minnesota.
The Tuninks reminisced on a time when they were kids.
“We were playing with this big yoga ball. We hit a lamp, and it shorted the electricity in our entire house. It was Bridget’s fault,” Ryan said.
Jessica Richter also was able to find humor in a fight that once had been a big deal to her and her sister.
“I honestly forget what we were arguing about, but someone threw something really hard,” Jessica said. “I think I threw something like a hairbrush at her. She closed the door and it like dented the entire door. The door was practically broken.”
Allison Richter, a sophomore accounting major and music minor, remembered another, more recent fight.
“You can never remember why a fight happens. But one time last year, we were so pissed at each other for some reason. She threatened to hit me, and I got scared. She wasn’t going to, but I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ and pushed her away. She ended up smacking her lip and her whole lip swelled up. It was really bad. We laugh about it now, because we can’t remember why we were actually mad at each other. We got done with it and were like ‘that was weird’.”
Jessica explained that they rarely ever fight.
“When we do fight, five minutes later she’ll text me or I’ll call her and we’ll be like ‘Hey what are you doing’ and we’ll forget what happened,” Jessica said. “We just move on quickly.”
Even though they are identical twins, the Richter girls have never done the “switcheroo” thing.
“I tried to talk Allison into it all the time,” Jessica said. “All my friends in high school were like ‘You’re the typical twins, do something like that!’ I’d tell Allison ‘We could switch spots in choir or change outfits and see if anyone notices’ but she was always like ‘No, I don’t want to do that’. She never wanted to break any rules.”
Allison responded, “She wanted to always do that, but I didn’t want to because secretly I’m a little bit smarter than her. I was better at math. The classes I took were classes she didn’t take. In class I’m very responsive, and she’d be more chill. Teachers would be able to tell and would probably be thinking ‘That doesn’t seem like Allison.’ I Just don’t think we could get away with it, because we’re so different.”
But the twins have shared some odd identical twin moments.
“Back in eighth grade there was a point in time when we were in the same room talking to the same people. At the same exact moment, we both randomly started singing the same song. Same tempo, same key. We were like ‘this is really weird’ because we both chose the same key,” Allison said.
“Another incident happened a couple weeks ago. I decided to run around downtown. Outside of the Des Moines Public Library there is a piano you can play. I passed the piano during my run, and I decided to play it. Five minutes later, along comes Jessica, running down the street. She gets to the piano and realizes I’m there. The reason she was running was to go on a run and then play on the piano. So we had both thought about the piano at the same time, and I didn’t know she was going on a run. We were both like ‘This is the weirdest thing, that we would both be in the same spot in Des Moines.’ We were both really creeped out. But we just sat and played songs together for like five minutes. She put the story on Facebook, and it got like 150 likes.”
Having a sibling can have its ups and it’s down, as these students can all testify.
Especially when they’re the same age and going to the same college. Layton made one point about something people have said to him.
“People say ‘How are you two related?’ Which is kind of funny, because we are so different. Usually they say something like ‘But Hannah’s so sweet, and you’re-‘ and I’m always like, ‘What? What am I?’” Layton chuckled. “People will ask me, ‘what’s it like being a triplet?’ and I always reply ‘What’s it like NOT being a triplet?’”
Hannah agreed with her brother, “I’ve never known anything different.”
Allison Richter reported that she’s gotten some rather rude comments about the topic of her being a twin.
“Sometimes people ask the dumb questions like ‘Can you read each other’s thoughts or feel each other’s pain’ and I’m just like ‘no, can we be smart about this?’ It’s funny though. There are people who figure out that there’s two of us, but then they don’t take the time to figure out which one’s which. They call us ‘The Twins’ or “the Richters.’ Or one time someone blatantly called me the wrong name and I corrected them and they just said, ‘Oh, same difference.’ I was like ‘no, it’s not, we’re very different people.’ They’re disrespectful about our individuality, and that really bothers me.”
Overall though, everyone seems to enjoy having their siblings close.
Bridget Tunink said, “This interview is going to make it seem like we hate each other, but we really do love each other.”
Her brother added a quick, “No we don’t,” in humorous disagreement.
Hannah Mikkalson advised, “Never let your family define you, but also never lose sight of the importance of family.”
Layton Mikkalson took a different approach than his sister. “Don’t take the same classes as your sibling.”