9 Tips For Surviving The Dorms

Freshman year is a time of excitement and a time of fear for many. You’re on your own for the first time. Your parents drop you off at college and leave you at your new home: your dorm room. This small room may not look like paradise, but to you, it feels like it. It’s the independence you’ve been waiting for your whole life, a place of your own (with your roommate, of course). You can finally do whatever you want without any supervision (except for the RA down the hall).

As exciting as moving into your dorm on the first day may be, the average freshman will eventually realize that living in such close corridors has its challenges. So, here’s a few tips to help you get through your first year of living in the dorms.

1. Expect noise

It’s going to happen. There’s an average of at least 50 people on every floor. People are going to be up late studying or wander in late on the weekends from a night out. They may yell in the hallway, blast music in their rooms or simply just talk too loudly. Also, there’s a high chance that you will have thin walls. It’s a dorm, not a 5-star hotel. Sometimes either earplugs or headphones playing music for sleeping are necessary.

2. Leave your door open

Want to make friends on your floor? Well, leave your door open and communicate to them to feel free to stop by. Maybe leave a sign on your door or whiteboard saying “visitors welcome." Also don’t be afraid to go knock on other people’s doors and introduce yourself. You have to start somewhere.

3. Make friends with your RA

Your RA wants you to succeed, but they also are responsible for making sure their floor behaves and doesn’t break the rules. Introduce yourself and make friends early to make sure they know what a “good kid” you are. Who knows? Maybe your RA will end up being really cool. RAs are always willing to talk to their residents if they need help or just someone to talk to, that’s what they’re there for. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that.

4.  Learn to get along with your roommate

Ahh roommates, the ones you will be sharing a living space with for the next year. Relationships with roommates can go good or bad really fast. Get to know your roommate. You may not end up being best friends with them, but at least learn to get along with them in order to coexist. Being respectful can go a long way, otherwise you may be in for a very long year.

5.  Invest in some shower essentials

Dorm bathrooms are a whole new kind of experience for most freshmen. If you’re lucky, you’ll have pod-style bathrooms with individual bathrooms that you can lock yourself in. But most likely, you’ll get the old-fashion one-gender, open-style bathroom that your whole floor shares. First things first, get a pair of flip-flops. You don’t want to catch bacteria from the floors that everyone showers on. Second, a shower caddy is absolutely necessary. How else are you going to carry all your stuff from your to the bathroom and back. Third, if your room doesn’t have a sink, consider brushing your teeth in the shower. It sounds weird, but it’s a real time saver.

6.  Stock up on snacks

Most likely, the dining hall is not going to be open 24/7. Invest in some snacks and microwave food, such as Ramen Noodles, Hot Pockets or Mac-N-Cheese in a cup. You’re going to want a midnight snack when you’re studying or a midnight snack under other circumstances during the weekend.

7. Make a serious attempt to make friends on your floor

Friends on your floor making coming home all that much better. You have someone to cry and laugh with at all hours, play video games all night or to pick you off the floor of the hall and put you to bed when you have a rough night. Friends on your floor are one of the best kind of friends. Find these diamonds.

8. Don’t hook up with people on your floor

It can awkward real quick when your ex or your one night stand lives across the hall from you, and you have to see them every day. Just don’t do it.

9. Enjoy it while you can

Living in the dorms is an experience like no other. You are on your own, but you’re surrounded by tons of other people. It’s a time to make friends and countless memories. Make the best of it while you can because you’ll miss it when it’s over.

Sophomore @ University of Iowa, Journalism and Communications

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