If you’re nervous about your dorm life, that’s good, you should be, it means you care about the experience you’re about to have. Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but not everyone loves dorm life. While some people have a great time enjoying their first taste of life away from their parents, bonding with their roommate and dorm floor cohorts, and generally taking that first taste of college life, not everyone has a positive experience cohabiting with others.
There are however, things you can do to make your dorm experience a more pleasant and enjoyable one, so that you aren’t counting off the days until the school year ends. College is too valuable a time to be spent dreading your time there, and you should do everything you can to make it an enjoyable experience.
Have ‘The Talk’
While your first contact with your roommate might not be the best time to discuss what acceptable living conditions are, the conversation should be held earlier rather than later to help avoid issues and conflicts. While it doesn’t have to be a formal conversation, it helps to go over matters like whether you are an earlier riser or a night owl, what items in the room will be shared and what are personal, who has what dresser and which desk, and similar housekeeping items. Guest rules, who cleans what and when, as well as good study times, are also important issues to touch upon. Having these items cleared up and out of the way early in your dorm life can make things much easier and less stressful as well as help to avoid arguments with your roommate.
Your private stash
In many cases, it’s the little things that cause the biggest problems when cohabitating with your dorm roommate. Food can be one of those issues that rears its ugly head. While most dorms have a decent variety of food options and meal plans, there are times when you might not find that they are offering what you’re in the mood for. Maybe you just don’t feel like leaving your room, or the food services are already closed. However, you might have brought food with you to school, mom might send it in, or maybe you head to the grocery store occasionally to stock up on supplies for just such occasions. Finding out your roommate has eaten half of it before you have had a chance to partake though, can be particularly frustrating.
If you foresee problems with keeping food items separate, consider labeling food or having a special place to keep your individual stockpile. For items in a communal fridge, be sure to label stuff that is yours. Of course, it’s best if you can discuss the ground rules early on so that you don’t have to take such actions. But if you each buy similar items and have a hard time telling each other’s food apart, these actions can help avoid confusion.
Be prepared to leave
This doesn’t mean you have to be prepared to leave for good or go storming out of your dorm room in a huff, but sometimes things get a little wild in dorm halls. A party atmosphere can either mean that you’re in amongst those that are having a fantastic time or gritting your teeth and stuffing tissue in your ears in a vain attempt to study.
Sometimes, rather than berating your hall mates and screaming “QUIET,” at the top of your lungs, it’s best to just pack up your books and head to the library or other quiet area on campus. Some dorms will offer specific sections somewhere in the building or on an individual floor that are designated as “quiet” or “study areas”. Utilizing such spaces can be beneficial to your study habits and not make you look like the hall party pooper.
Your dorm is not yours
Having your first taste of living on your own can be invigorating and exciting. It can be easy however, to get caught up in the feeling of being an adult and forget you’re still under certain restrictions. Dorms have many rules and they expect residents to abide by those rules, often enforcing codes of conduct with strict penalties for violations.
Smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and violating visiting hours can often result in punishment through the university, fines, even law enforcement intervention. Violating certain other hall or dorm rules can result in fines for damage or destruction to your room or public spaces, sometimes not only for you but for you hall mates as well. If a hall is damaged by unknown people or those responsible don’t own up to the deed, the entire floor may suffer and have to pay fines to repair the damage or replace missing items. So beware! Just because no one saw you do it, doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay.