What to Pack in Your “First Night in the Dorms” Bag Relationships: From High School to College

25 Things You Need to Know About Living in the Dorms

August 22nd, 2008 admin

Sometimes moving out means learning things “the hard way.” In other words, it means making a lot of dumb mistakes before you figure out the best way to do stuff.  So, benefit from my mistakes here and take advantage of these 25 tips about living in the dorms (and feel free to share your own if you have any!).

Also, this Friday is the one-year anniversary of Surviving College Life-woo hoo!!! Thanks for sticking with me for a year!

My roommate situation varied throughout college, but there are a few things that applied to every situation:

1. Set up ground rules ASAP-preferably before you move in! This will save you from a lot of awkward situations later.
2. Don’t live with your close friends from high school unless your lifestyles and personalities are SUPER compatible.  Living together puts a whole new strain on your relationship, and it has ruined more than a few pairs of best friends.
3. Keep the lines of communication open.  Yes, confrontation is awkward, but dreading every day with your roommate is worse.  If something is bothering you, talk about it.
4. If you’re sick, it’s probably bugging/freaking out your roommate (especially if you are coughing until all hours of the night).  Try to be considerate of this. And know what to do if your roommate gets sick.
5. Make sure you know each other’s feelings about having overnight guests, and respect them!
6. Discuss what you do & don’t want to share. Some people are totally fine with sharing everything from clothes to food to their laptop, others don’t even want you to step into their side of the room.
7. Wear headphones.

Relationships & Friendships (in the Dorms)
Dorms are close quarters, which means that everybody is involved in everyone else’s business:

8. Dating someone on your floor is risky.  Everybody on your floor will be involved whether you like it or not, and if you break up, you will still find yourselves face to face pretty often.
9. Excessive PDA is not cool.  Also, making out is still considered “public” (and therefore not cool) if you & your significant other are “alone” in your room with your roommate still there.  Trust me, your roommate doesn’t appreciate it.
10. Don’t date your Resident Advisor.  It’s probably against the rules (so it could get him or her fired) and if it ends badly… See #8.
11. If you are mad at/break up with your significant other, don’t write about it on your blog, as an away/status message, on Facebook or MySpace, or anywhere public. Things can get ugly fast, so if you MUST vent, do it in a private email to someone who won’t pass it around. (Same rule applies with your roommate).
12. Don’t judge people before you get to know them.  I thought one girl on my floor was super rude, but (Oops!) it turned out she was just shy-she ended up being one of my best friends.

My first quarter at UCSD, my roomie and I had a pint of Ben & Jerry’s each, every night, which leads me to remind you that…

13. Ice cream doesn’t count as a meal.  Yes, it’s fun to eat whatever you want for a change, but after a while you may find out the true meaning of the term “Freshman 15.”
14. Balance is the key to staying healthy at school-what you eat makes a big difference in how strong your immune system is. Remember to get all the food groups!
15. When you get sick of cafeteria food, you can actually cook some pretty good stuff in the dorms.  Check out THIS POST for links to great recipe sites with all kinds of things you can make without a real kitchen. (Or check out my fast, cheap, & easy breakfast recipes and snack ideas)
16. Free food abounds in the dorms and on campus.  Learn how to find it here.

Parents & Siblings
This applies to living anywhere away from home:

17. Whether or not they let on, your family probably misses you-especially your siblings.  It’s hard to be left behind, especially if they’re the last one at home.  Try to keep that in mind and make a point of talking to the sibs when you call home, chatting online with them, or shooting off an email now and then.
18. If your parents are calling too much-or not enough-it’s okay to talk to them about it.  Just be sure to be kind, and try to find a compromise. (i.e. If phone calls are too overbearing for you, suggest IM or email.)


19. Something about the college lifestyle-whether it’s the shared network, or the constant file swapping-seems to mean its super easy to get a virus.  Invest in an anti-virus software (you can usually order one from Frys.com with a big rebate-you could end up paying $10 or even nothing after rebate).
20. Don’t leave your laptop laying around in common areas.  They’re valuable and easy to steal-don’t lose yours. It seems like common sense, but so many people just leave them while they go off for lunch or head out for the night!

In my dorm building, there were 70 kids to every 2 washers and dryers-and not all of them knew how to do laundry right.  Here’s what I learned:

21. Don’t leave your detergent or fabric softener in the laundry room-other people will use it, and they won’t ask first.
22. Get back to your machine on time!  Some people will throw your clean clothes on the floor so they can get to the washer or dryer. Other people will steal your clothes. Weird.
23. If you’re afraid you aren’t going to get back in time, leave a post-it with your room # or ph # on the machine. Most people will come over or call to and ask you to move your stuff before they take over.
24. If you have coin laundry, always, always keep quarters on hand.  Actually, you can make friends by changing people’s money-quarters are a valuable commodity!
25. Do small to medium loads.  Large loads don’t get as clean and also won’t dry all the way (which leaves you with the option of wet clothes, or feeding more cash into the dryer).

Feel free to share your own experiences, tips & opinions. And once more, thanks for sticking around for a year!

photo: crowded houses by ijsendoorn

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