Starting college life in the dorms is exciting and scary. Your new home is full of hundreds of strangers that you’ll have to learn to live with. I not only voluntarily lived in the dorms for my four years of college, but I loved it. And trust me, it wasn’t because my ancient dorm with community bathrooms was super nice. It was because living in the dorms was fun. Take my advice and you’ll see. If you don’t have the time of your life, at least you’ll survive!
- Personalize your room. Your space may be tiny and drab, but you can easily bring small things that make a big difference. I brought lots of brightly colored accessories, as well as tons of photos to plaster all over the cinder block walls (yuck!).
- Be friendly with your neighbors. I was so intimidated by all the fabulous people moving in around me my first day that I was afraid to go introduce myself. Don’t make that mistake! Knock on a couple doors and say hi. Invite someone to a campus event. When I introduced myself to a neighbor my sophomore year, I made a life-long friend who was a bridesmaid at my recent wedding. Even if you don’t become best friends, you’ll help each other survive the first few weeks. Community bathrooms are much less awkward when you can chat with the person brushing their teeth next to you!
- Don’t be afraid to call home. You may think your roommate will ridicule you for calling your mom five times the first day, but who cares? It’s important that you feel comfortable and ready to tackle your first year. My parents spent my first weekend in a hotel nearby. Yes, I was that kid, but I came to realize I wasn’t the only one getting dropped off at orientation by my mom. None of us were that kid for long; we just needed a little support at the beginning.
- Be considerate. Discuss with your roommate general boundaries and guidelines. Many colleges will give you a Roommate Agreement form in the first couple of weeks. Fill this out even if your roomie is your bff from high school. Problems always arise when you’re living in close quarters, so remember to be courteous and willing to work on issues.
- Be safe. Lock your room when you sleep and memorize your campus police phone number. Don’t open the hall doors for a stranger simply because they claim they lost their card key. You could be letting in someone’s drunken ex-boyfriend who is going to storm the hall yelling and puking at 2 a.m. Report any suspicious or unsafe behavior. There’s no need to walk around in fear, just be cautious.
- Don’t spend all your time in your room! Go to a game, try out the campus theater, or just hang out in the lobby of your building. College is a blast when you stay active and get involved.