Living in college dorms can be a challenging experience. I lived in a shared room, a single room, a shared suite and finally an apartment during my college career. Each living arrangement gave me a both good and bad experiences, but also helped me learn a lot of little tricks and tips that can help make your dorm life a little bit easier. Follow my guide to help you start your dorm life out on the right foot.
Be Civil with Your Roommate(s)
If you aren’t living at home or with friends, you will probably be living on campus in a dorm with strangers. Many colleges require that college freshmen live in a dorm to help them get acclimated with campus but also to have a unique college experience. You may have more than one roommate and will have limited space for you and your things. You may not have to be best friends with your roommates, but I recommend at least being civil. Respect their space and items as much as you want them to do the same for you. Lay down ground rules and talk about your habits together before the school year starts so you can at least know a little about each other. My freshman year I had a roommate who did not like my music, my friends or my sleeping habits. We did everything to avoid each other, but were able to be polite and respectful of each other until my roommate ultimately transferred schools.
Be Clean and Courteous
Another thing I can recommend is to be a clean person. Even if when you lived at home you were messy and disorganized, attempt to at least keep you and yourself clean. Be courteous of others using the shared spaces in dorms by cleaning your messes and respecting others. If a study group was in our common area, I would take friends to my room and make space to play board games. If I made food, I would clean up the stove, counter top and sink before going back to eat. Even making sure you don’t leave hair in the sink when getting ready in the morning means the next person won’t have to deal with your mess.
You will also need to respect your neighbors even when you’re in your room. If you are blasting music during finals week, not only will you look like a jerk, but you could wind up in trouble with your RA, or resident assistant. Respecting when someone asks you politely to turn your music down will probably be reciprocated if you ever need them to pipe down. A constant battle in my freshman dorm was the loudness of music or movies in other rooms. We eventually instituted quiet hours to make sure that everyone had a study and sleep safe building.
Eat Dorm Food…Sparingly
As a freshman, you will probably have to buy a meal or food plan from the school. Some schools charge per plate and have a buffet style meal, while others give you a dollar amount per semester. My school gave us a card with loaded money to eat with and when it was gone, you had to add more. I tended to use my dollars at the campus convenience stores rather than the cafeteria. The cafeteria food is just that, its food that is intended to be fed to a lot of people so the quality is often not the best. A lot of the food offered at my college was fast food and pretty unhealthy, so I bought food that I could prepare in my dorm much more often so I could control my calories. Make sure they don’t talk you into the largest meal plan because you probably won’t need it.
Attend Social Events
My university had social events for every dorm neighborhood every month or so. Even if you’re shy, attend one or two and make some new friends. Even if its just a free meal, attending can boost your spirits and forces you to be social which is what dorm living is really about. Your university wants you to make friends that you might just have for the rest of your life, but at least through the end of the school year. My best friend is a girl that I met my sophomore year over 8 years ago.
Dorm life is quite simple if you respect yourself and others. If you notice problems, always talk it out with that person before moving on to a mediator. By the end of the first semester, dorm life will become second nature. You might even miss those shower shoes when you get home. Well, maybe not.