Until you’ve actually experienced it, dorm life is pretty much a mystery. This probably the first time you’ve lived “on you own” and throughout this process you will learn about yourself and about others. I certainly spent a lot of time stressing out about living in the dorms before I even moved in, but this is something that thousands of people survive every year! Plus, there are a lot of benefits to living on campus, such as the close walking distance to all your classes, and there are usually a lot of free events for campus residents too.
Dorm life isn’t always easy, especially when you’re an introvert like me. I know a lot of people who never really had a problem living in the dorms, but let me tell you, there was definitely a point where the novelty wore off. I quickly grew to dislike living in the dorms, but I’m still glad for the experience.
Don’t stress though! If I can survive dorm life, you can too. Here are some things I wished I’d known before I moved into the dorms.
You and your roommate will not share as much as you think
At the beginning of the year you and your roommate are both excited and nervous and therefore form a bond of awkwardness. Out of politeness you are both probably willing to share all your belongings to help each other. However, this formality does wear off and you probably won’t be sharing your food, and dishes, and curling irons, and dresser drawers like you thought you would. Usually the TV, the futon, and the mini-fridge are fair game, but everything else usually goes to one person or the other. That’s normal.
Establish guidelines with your roommate right away
Similar to not sharing everything, you two probably have different habits all together. Establish ground rules right away, like not having the TV on after bedtime or when it’s ok have guests over. (Talk about the temperature of your room! This was a big one between me and my roommate, since we come from different climates.) I’ve had several friends who’ve had issues with their roommates having boyfriends over all the time… Just establish the rules of the room right away so you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness down the road. Trust me, it’s 10x more uncomfortable to address the situation after you’ve been putting up with it for a while.
You are entitled to privacy and peace
Even though you have a roommate, remember that this is just as much your space as it is theirs. If you need to kick out some people that your roommate has over, you can politely do that! First things first, living on campus must be functional for school, so if you need some privacy and peace, don’t be afraid to ask for it!
No one is going to clean up after you
For the sake of your roommate, clean up after yourself. It’s not fun to live with a messy roommate, even if they never touch your stuff. While you’re living in such close proximity with someone, try extra hard to keep a clean place.
You WILL get sick sometime
You just will. With so many teenagers living in such close proximity, sickness is bound to spread through everyone at least once a semester. Make healthy choices and don’t spread yourself too thin. Trust me, I know all about getting sick in college, and it is no fun to deal with illness on top of all your other commitments. Here’s a good guide to fighting sickness where I go into more detail about all my tricks to staying healthy. 🙂
You don’t have to be friends with the people on your floor
When you first move into the dorms, it feels a bit like summer camp. You’re encouraged to do all kinds of things with the people on your floor, and for a while they are the only people you know. But if you find yourself drifting away from your floor as the year goes on, that’s totally fine! The chances of your best college friends all being on your floor your freshman year isn’t likely, so branch out and meet people you genuinely have something in common with. Living in the dorms is only a chapter in your life anyway.
Not everyone is trustworthy
Just because you’re living so close to other people doesn’t mean they will all your friends. Be wary of thieves, and be cautious in lending out your things. Also, there was an issue at my school last year where an RA supposedly assaulted a girl in her room… So just be extra careful!
People can hear you in your room
And you will be able to hear them too. Even if you don’t think you will need them, bring some earplugs, especially if you are a light sleeper like me! You will never know when people will run screaming down your hall like wild animals. It happens. Likewise, be courteous to others with your noise. Don’t have your TV or speakers on too loud during quiet hours. Maybe don’t practice tap dancing in your dorm room either. (I’m guilty of this one. Sorry.)
Make your space feel like home
Chances are that you will get homesick throughout the year, so put a little effort into making your room feel homey. It can be something as simple as getting a rug for your floor or displaying a picture of your cat. Putting up Christmas lights adds an especially warm touch to your room. Be creative with your space, after all, you will be living there for an entire school year. My aunt made me a Wicked poster that I keep in my room; I love that musical! I also put up some Bible verses and quotes that I wanted to look at every day.
Best of luck with your year in the dorms!