Things You Should Know Before You Move Into the Dorms

dorms

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.

things you should know before you move into the dorms- room decorations

It’s not exactly Vogue, but it makes my room seem a little more happy 🙂

Best of luck with your year in the dorms!

A Foolproof Guide to Dealing with Stress in College

 

a foolproof guide to dealing with stress in college

I would usually say I deal with stress pretty well, but yesterday it hit me like I had just run into a brick wall.  I think stress had slowly been creeping up on me, in fact my voice teacher just mentioned to me that I seemed more stressed this semester.  Well, this was news to me, until of course, I took a look at all that I was juggling.  Classes have suddenly become much more involved and demanding.  (What is fafsa?)  On top of that, midterms are approaching.  (Scholarships need applications?)  I am also involved in theatre outside of my classes.  Did I mention I have to plan a trip to New York City for next week?

Like I said.  Brick wall.  In my face.

In these moments it’s important to remember some fundamentals in dealing with stress.  It’s not easy, but proper stress management is essential for not falling apart at the seams.  First, I’ll cover some stress management tips for when you get those mini-panic attacks (short term management) then we’ll look at some tips to reduce overall stress in your life (long term management.)

Ok, let’s deal!

Breathe

As a singer, it’s essential to know the most natural, effective way to breathe.  Proper breathing is important to producing a good sound, but it’s actually important for every part of living.  When you are breathing properly, your tummy should stick out, which goes against what most people are trying to look like.  But that’s how you’re supposed breath!  Breathing from your diaphragm and filling up your whole body with air is what your body is designed to do.  This way, your body gets the oxygen that it’s craving, and if you’re a singer like me, you sound a million times better.

So next time you get a mini-stress-induced-panic-attack, just take some deep breaths.  This will do wonders to calm you down and keep you grounded.  Even if you’re not stressed, practice proper breathing.

Identify the Source of your Stress

This is important for getting un-stressed.  Are you stressed because you don’t have enough time to do all your homework?  Are you stressed because you don’t know how to do your assignments?  Do you have anxiety over an upcoming test?  Identifying exactly what is stressing you out is an essential step to dealing with your stress, otherwise you’ll just keep internally freaking out.  Find the source, and take care of it.

Write a List

When all the things you have to do just seem to keep piling up, write a list.  Visualization is key to getting things done; it makes more of an impression on you.  If you can, write your list in chronological order, or in order of importance, then commit to your list!  Personally, I have a notepad on my desk at all times just for these such situations.  Another benefit to keeping a list is that crossing off a task that you’ve completed is such a relief.  Your stress melts away with each completed task, so write that list!

Go Exercise

When you’re stressed, major tension builds up in your body.  Exercising is a great way to get rid of that tension.  Your mind also gets a break from all that worry, and you’ll probably be able to think clearer after working out.  I prefer to go for a run when I’m stressed, however just playing some music and dancing around for a while can be a great stress reliever.

Get Some Perspective

So, if you really have a stress attack, you should remember that this too will pass.  College is only four years of your life, and this stressful moment will seem insignificant in 10 years.  Even if your classwork falls apart, your schedule is packed, and your grades plummet- just take it with some perspective.  As long as you are doing your best, the rest will just fall into place

Ok, switching gears!

Use a Planner

I’ve always carried a planner, however I’m not very good at actually using it, and this has come back to bite me more than once.  Whether it’s a test, a birthday party, an essay deadline, an overdue library book, or a cancelled class, just take a minute to write it down.  Perhaps you won’t have to look at it later, because even writing it down can help imprint it in your memory, but get into the habit of keeping track of all the little details in your life

Practise Identifying Tension

As an acting student, I am being taught to identify and control the tension in my body.  Everybody has tension in their bodies and this can tell us a lot about a character and ourselves.  Tension in our bodies and stress in our minds are directly related, so if you can learn to let go of that tension you can relieve your stress, but it takes practice.  Here’s what you can do: lie on your back and tighten all the muscles in your body beginning with your feat.  Hold and then let go beginning from your face.  Try to isolate each individual muscle.

Get Grounded

What I mean by this is having something in your life other than school that keeps you grounded in reality.  If you have some really great friends, get together with them to talk about something other than school.  Have hobbies and passions that take you outside of the university world.  Invest in other areas of your life.  For me, I have to stay grounded in my Faith, otherwise I would be a mess across the board.

Take Some Time for Yourself

Among all the responsibilities you have to juggle in college, be sure to take some time to do something you enjoy.  At the end of a long day, it’s important to wind down in order to sleep properly.  And of course sleep is super important!  Take some time to read a book, watch some tv, draw a picture, or have a spa night.  Taking time for yourself is just another way to invest in and care for yourself.  Don’t spread yourself too thin!

Wow!  Just reminding myself of these things has already helped me have a better outlook on my stressful situation.  Just remember to keep the big picture in mind- dealing with stress is much more of a lifestyle than it is a last resort.  So, try to incorporate these tips into your life to be better equipped to tackle stress.

How do you deal with stress?  Let me know!