In a few weeks, thousands of students will be moving into their dorm rooms. A few years ago I was in the same situation most of you are in now: waiting for college to start, daydreaming of how to decorate those white walls and hoping that the new roommate isn’t filled with Hulk-like rage.
It’s been quite some time since I lived in a Residence Hall so the following tips are actually a compilation of experiences from my friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers and myself.
Talk to your roommate(s) and hallmates
Most of the people in my hall left their doors open on the first day so a lot of students introduced themselves and just stopped by to say “Hi!”. If you’re an introvert like me and don’t see yourself stopping by everyone’s door, it’s always good to befriend your roommate first (or at least leave your door open). Be polite, ask questions, share stories and talk about similar interests. Is there something that you have in common? Or maybe even cool differences?
On the day I met my roommate, we started talking about our cultures. She’s Korean and I’m Mexican, so we bonded over how crazy our parents could get. It may not be the same for you but take the time to share something about yourself!
Be considerate of your roommate(s).
This was probably the most frequent tip from those I asked. Guys, these are words of wisdom for dorm life and life in general: Be a considerate human being. If you’re living in a suite and are sharing a bathroom, throw away those empty shampoo bottles. Try not to blast your music - not everyone has the same musical tastes, so plan ahead and invest in some headphones.
This has been a PSA from John Lennon.
Do not borrow your roommate’s clothes without their permission (actually happened to a friend of mine). Do not bring your significant other into the room without sharing that information with your roommate first. Not cool. If you and your roommate have disagreements, try to negotiate. Lay down some rules but also be open to rules set by your roommate.
Be friendly and creative
This is sort of like the tip above plus swag. Don’t say inside your room 24/7, it’s not a dungeon. Decorate your door. Go to movie nights! My first week at the A-I dorms, I was freaking out that I’d perpetually be the socially awkward penguin who hangs out with her roommate all the time.
Luckily, some girls in our hall were throwing a movie night and because they were the nicest people ever, I somehow got invited to this. It turned out to be a lot of fun! I met more people, made friends and I still talk to some of those girls today.
Don’t bring a lot of stuff
Try to limit yourself on what you truly need to make dorm life comfortable. Otherwise, at the end of the year you’re going to be pulling out things from your closet you never knew were there. Like your High School yearbook.
So don’t end up cringing during move-out day at all the stuff you have to find a place for! Only bring the necessities for your move in date, because you will most likely purchase things throughout the year anyway and they tend to pile up.
You might get homesick. It’s okay.
If you’re close to your family, the first week might be the hardest. You’ll see other students hugging their parents, getting teary-eyed, and maybe even bickering a little. Your parents will be eyeballing your dorm to make sure everything is perfect. You’ll have to reassure them that you really will do your laundry and that you’ll call them often. Ultimately, they’ll return home (or they’ll be on their way to the Home Depot to turn your room into a discotheque) while a burgeoning but unfamiliar independence awaits you.
Your parents. Probably.
The best remedy for avoiding or at least getting over homesickness is to begin to accommodate yourself to your new home. Stay on the weekends! Meet people! Make new friends! Decorate your stark white walls. Personalize your side of the room with so much hardcore energy that you’ll make your Tumblr profile jealous. It might take a few weeks, but make your new dorm room a second home and build a community within your hall!
Know about activities
There are so many programs that your RA and PC have scheduled for your hall, so go to them! They’re actually really fun and you’ll usually leave with some sort of awesome free thing by the end of it. I used to live in one of the many dorm rooms of A-I. Luckily, I ventured out – against every hermit instinct in my body - and attended some of the events.
What kind of events can you attend? There are events like Monte Carlo (an annual event at A-I that involves card games, non-alcoholic drinks and prizes!), The Underground Dance Party (a fun and free drag show that supports the LGBTQIA Scholarship Fund) and Friday Night Movies at the Dining Hall, better known to my friends as Heart Attack Friday. Fried food and fun movies. Enough said.
These events are just a few of many. There are various other programs that involve making tie-dye shirts, pet rocks, white boards and many other things. There are also programs that involve games! My first quarter in hall D2W of A-I involved playing the game Assassin with the rest of my hall. Your RA would give you a slip of paper with someone’s name and you would have to tag them, which would ultimately count as ‘assassinating them’.
Once that person was killed you took their slip of paper with the name of their person and continue your hit(wo)man mission. In order to avoid getting killed the RA would sometimes institute a safety item of the day, like wearing a sock on your hand or mismatched shoes. It got intense until there was one person standing. See! Don’t miss out on possibly wearing socks as gloves. Go to the events!
So, hopefully the above hasn’t scared you. The countdown officially starts now, incoming residents. T-minus 2 days. Good luck!