Living in a college dorm for the first time can be hectic and confusing. Thankfully, Ultius has put together a piece that discusses the five top college dorm room tips for anyone thinking about dorm life. Check it out and let us know what you think!
How to live in a college dorm
Ah, dorm life. It’s like a rite of passage for kids leaving the nest for the first time and running off to chase the next big adventure. The next adventure being, of course, college. The dorm is like a safe haven where other newbies are feeling just as intimidated as the next when it comes to “real world” living, yet it provides a security that, say, a random apartment complex would. Typically a large building with uniform rooms, dorms are not only living quarters but also a place for social interactions. Many people have made lifelong friends simply by being college roommates or living in the same building.
There’s usually a social calendar in every dorm making it easier for those new freshmen to get to know each other a little bit easier, albeit a little bit awkwardly at first. Almost everyone is in the same boat–fresh out of high school and newly dubbed freshmen, feeling more independent, and perhaps a little bit overconfident in their life decisions. So, to simplify what seems like one of life’s more daunting lessons in living away from home, here are five tips to make that transition easier and a lot more fun than you could have imagined.
Step outside of your dorm room, and comfort zone
Step outside of your comfort zone! If you’re normally an introvert, painfully shy, or some combination of the two, rest assured that many others are feeling your plight. Break the ice by being the first to initiate conversation. You’d be surprised what a simple, “Hi, I’m so-and-so. How’s it going?” could do for those who are terrified to make the first move. Plus, it gives you an edge–you’ll come off as affable, personable, and really quite friendly.
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Isn’t that all you could ask for as far as first impressions go? On the other hand, if you’re the boisterous extroverted type, tone it down just a little bit. Too much personality too soon could intimidate those lesser excitable folks making for an awkward start-up. The bottom line is, most of the students living in the dorm are there for the experience and to meet other like-minded friends.
Be social in college
Go to the ice cream social. Or meet-n-greet. Or whatever other gathering your dorm might put together. Typically, in the first week of classes, dorms will make an effort to bring together their residents together to better get acquainted. Speaking from personal experience, I thought my dorm’s ice cream social was too cheesy for my taste. But who was I to judge? I was the new kid. We all were the new kids. So I put away my pride (and my hesitation) and showed up. You never know who you will become friends with, or even wind up dating for that matter.
Wanna know something that happened? I met another person who felt the same exact way about this type of group encounter and fourteen years later, we are still the best of friends. The point is, there is a high probability that there are others just like you who share your same point of view. The only way to find out is to go out there and meet them! Who you find may just pleasantly surprise you.
Speak up. If you’ve been one of the fortunate ones who got randomly paired with the best roommate ever, congratulations. You’re in the minority. Part of the excitement in dorm living is the array of characters you’ll encounter. Learning about each other’s differences keeps so much open to discover. But what happens if you were assigned to share a confined space with someone who you have absolutely nothing in common with and in fact is causing you more anxiety and aggravation than interest and intrigue?
You speak up. Go to your dorm’s R.A. (resident advisor) and voice your concern. In many cases, the R.A. will do whatever he or she can to remedy the problem, whether it’s having a sit-down conversation with your nightmarish roommate or possibly even placing you in an alternative room with people better suited to your personality. The worst thing to do is to just put up with or deal with something that could have been potentially avoided. A pleasant living environment is the goal, not just a tolerable one.
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Learn to cook in college
Buy small easy-to-prepare foods and make sure you have versatile compact cooking equipment. While most dorms come equipped with a small refrigerator in each room (and by small I mean tiny; think hotel room fridge…a mini-bar, if you will), it is important to keep in mind that that small space will still have to be shared. If you’re used to buying in bulk, now’s the time to revamp the way you grocery shop. Of course, there’s the option of only eating cup ramen, but who wants to live off of dehydrated noodles and a chalky powder based soup? Cooking in the dorm is often cheaper than eating out, including fast food meals, and usually much healthier too.
Easy to store in the fridge are foods like deli meat, bagged salad, yogurt, and fruit cups. Bottled water and breads can be left out of the fridge on a shelf. Dorms also almost always have a kitchen on each floor, if not every other floor. While it won’t be a full kitchen, basic equipment like a sink with running water, a stovetop, and a microwave are all readily available to use. To soften the blow of trying to survive with a mini-fridge, just imagine your dorm room is a coveted shoe-box sized apartment in San Francisco or New York. Not so bad, right? If you think about it, there are people who actually live this way. At the very least, dorm life is relatively temporary!
Respect your dorm room, and dorm mates
If there was a sing-most important tip I could bestow about dorm living, it’s this. Respect your roommate and his/her things and you will get the same in return. There’s nothing worse than a roommate who disrespects boundaries or rules that you may have. If your roommate keeps her side of the room unkempt but totally doesn’t infiltrate her mess onto yours, that’s not such a bad thing. However, if your roommate decides that the entire room needs to look like a hurricane went through it, then there will be problems unless you discuss what each other’s rules are. Having your own space is one thing. Sharing it with someone who is essentially a complete stranger is another. Leave those lines of communication open so there aren’t any misunderstandings or talking behind each other’s backs.
Living in a dorm definitely adds to the college experience. Stay true to yourself! It’s easy to get caught up in the cliques and groups of all the different types of people you’re going to meet. But an important thing to keep in mind is that nobody likes a phony. Sure, college is a time for self discovery. And more often than not, you’re still in the process of trying to figure out who you really are. Believing in yourself and showcasing or highlighting your positive qualities will radiate and will attract people to you. Decorate your side of the room the way you want! Put up photos of your family or loved ones. Add throw pillows to your bed or a rug on the floor. Make it cozy, an extension of your personality.
Of course, these tips are simply that–tips. None of them are guaranteed and some may work, some might not. Regardless of that and at the very least, when all is said and done and the years go by, you’ll have awesome stories to regale your friends and colleagues about that time you were a freshman in college. And having a great story to tell is something everyone can get on board with.
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