By Samantha Pacheco Molina
Living on campus is a crucial part of a student’s college experience. It’s your time to experience new things on your own and finally taste the feeling of freedom.
But if it’s your first time leaving the nest, dorm life might come off as intimidating. Whether you’re a wide-eyed freshman or an experienced senior, a few basic survival tips can carry you through the rough spots, leaving you to enjoy your college years.
TOUR YOUR DORM AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY EARLY
Whether you are moving out of state or out of the city, taking a tour of where you will be living will make the transition easier. Take the time to find the best coffee shops, stores, libraries, and parks. These locations will help you avoid cabin fever in your dorm and allow you to expand your horizons. Familiarizing yourself with the new surroundings and how to navigate around campus will make the first day of classes a breeze.
PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE
Moving into your dorm, you won’t have any of your familiar comforts. Be quick to make your space your own. After all, it will be a home away from home for the rest of the year. Transforming your dorm into a more personal environment can help reduce feelings of homesickness and ease stress levels when classes kick into gear. Stylish decor, photographs, and posters will make those bare walls come to life.
CONNECT WITH PEERS
Adjusting to life as a college student can be hard if you find yourself not “clicking” with anyone early on. The easiest way to start making friends is by befriending roommates and classmates. Go out for coffee or sign up for clubs together. Know that there are others out there seeking friendships but don’t want to make the first move. Be confident and be yourself.
GET TO KNOW THE RESIDENTIAL STAFF AND UTILIZE YOUR RESOURCES.
Residential advisers are there to show you the ropes. Reach out to them to discuss issues ranging from roommate problems to tips adjusting to college life. RAs regularly make rounds on the floors and often meet with you individually to see how you are doing. It’s also good to get to know your house officers, academic advisers, and administrative offices. These trained individuals can help you find any resources you need.
DIVIDE UP THE RESPONSIBILITIES
After meeting your new roommates, it might be helpful to put together a chore schedule. There will be times when the trash hasn’t been taken out or the bathroom needs a cleaning (AKA finals week) and the only one doing their part is you. Assigning roles from the get-go will help roomies learn to compromise and set expectations for the rest of the year.
DON’T SKIP OUT ON DORM MIXERS AND SOCIAL EVENTS
Move in week will make your first time living on campus special and exciting. Most dorms will host meetings and mixers for either the entire building or each floor. Movie nights and themed parties are a perfect way to get out of your room and let loose. Not to mention the opportunity to get to know the other people living next door.
STOCK UP ON SNACKS
The cafeteria won’t always be open and not everyone has the luxury of stopping by mom and dads for a homemade meal. Find out what foods are available through your school’s meal plans. When keeping goodies on hand in your room, head to your nearest outlet store to buy your snacks in bulk. It’s a lot cheaper in the long run to buy an economy-sized box of granola bars than buying them for a dollar apiece at the student store.
ADJUSTING TO COMMUNAL BATHROOMS
Having a communal bathroom isn’t the worst living arrangement ever. However, it is an adjustment. If you’re placed in a residence hall with shared showers, there are some items you should never forget to bring: a towel or bathrobe, your handy shower caddy, and a pair of shower shoes. It only takes one case of an athlete’s foot to make you never go barefoot again.
PREPARE FOR NOISY NEIGHBORS
College students are loud. Especially on weekends when parties happen around every corner. Knowing this truth will prepare you for stomping down halls and music blasting from the courtyard. If you’re a light sleeper, get some earplugs. Late-night study session? Invest in a good pair of headphones to drown out the noise. Remember to do your part to keep it down when you and your squad rolls in from a night of fun.
REACH OUT TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS BACK HOME
Feeling homesick during dorm life is inevitable. While college is a time to look to the future, don’t forget about the people who love you at home. A simple call or video chat can be a great mood booster to an otherwise stressful, chaotic day. Make plans to attend your school’s family weekend events with college open houses, tailgate barbecues, and festivals. CT