Are you dreading moving into the dorms? Are you unsure of what to expect and how to make the most of the dorm life experience? Here are some tips for you.
Within the first day or so of living together, make an agreement or contract with your roommate. In the contract you two can discuss your preferences for things like temperature, visitors, study hours, and more. If you get up early but your roommate is a night owl, you’ll going to have to discuss a way that both of you can coexist without upsetting each other. If you’re not comfortable doing this, your resident assistant might be able to help.
This is also the time to establish boundaries. If you don’t want your roommate eating your food or wearing your clothes, you need to say so. And try not to feel like you’re being harsh or unfair. You’re just doing what you need to do to survive dorm life.
You may end up being great friends with your roommate, and you may not. Either way, you should get to know other people. You can start by attending activities your resident assistant puts on or events that are specifically for freshman.
Take advantage of the fact that most people won’t know each other. You’re all looking to make new friends and get to know new people. So introduce yourself to people in your classes and in the hallways. Wave, say “hi" and be friendly.
Finally, in the first few weeks, find some activities on campus in which you can participate. One of the keys to surviving dorm life is to have a life outside of the dorm. Most schools have intramural sports and a long list of clubs to join. If you have a club or interest that your school doesn’t already have going, see about starting a new group.
Dining hall food can be great, and it can be not so great. You may also get tired after a few weeks of seeing the same options over and over again. Don’t despair! Many dining halls will do themed nights—like a Thanksgiving dinner night before Thanksgiving break or a California food night where avocados are in abundance. Check all of these out. It’s a great way to have a fun night with food that’s already paid for.
This is one of the most important strategies a college student can master: finding free food. Most student groups will offer free desserts or finger foods at meetings or parties. Check out the flyers on campus and see what events are going on. This is a good way to find new activities to participate in while also making sure you’re never hungry or bored with dining hall food.
You may feel like college is a time to start fresh and leave all your childhood trinkets behind. Wait! Those childhood trinkets may be just what you need to keep from feeling homesick. Don’t go overboard on bringing stuffed animals or your entire baseball collection. Instead maybe bring one or two things that remind you of home in addition to pictures that bring up fond memories. College is, in part, about moving forward but holding on to the things you already know and love can help the transition go a little smoother.