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Freshmen Survival Guide Part One: Roommates & Dorm Life

As a freshman here at GW, transitioning has been tough. At the same time, it is comforting to know that we are not alone, so, I bring to you the freshman survival guide. One of the biggest changes we experience as first year college students is a new home: the dorm. Whether you like it or not, this place is where you’ll spend a huge chunk of your time on a daily basis so it is in your best interest to try to adjust early and make it as comfortable of a place to live as possible.

Here at GWU, about 1,000 students pile into Thurston on move-in day and will call this run-down, cramped, and not so home-y building, home. (If you don’t live in Thurston, consider yourself lucky because your “home” is much quieter and cleaner than Thurston but you can still come here to party.) Unfortunately, dorm rooms are small, bathrooms are smaller, and roommates are not necessarily your best friends. If these things sound familiar, keep reading.

Set ground rules: In order to make dorm and roommate life as livable as possible, try to set the ground rules early on. If you think the garbage needs to be emptied and the bathroom needs to be cleaned once a week, let your roommates know and create a schedule so that you share the responsibility. If your roommate is having friends over late while you’re trying to study the night before a test, let her know that you need your study time and perhaps her and her friends could take their little get-together to another room. Definitely make sure that you and your roommate(s) are familiar with each others’ schedules. If it’s 2AM and you have a class in 6 hours, your roommate needs to know that if she’s coming in late, she should try to be quiet and considerate. Also, figure out shower times in advance. If you and your roommates are fighting for the shower or space in the bathroom and you have classes to get to, figure out a schedule for who will shower when (morning/night) and try to eliminate overlapping your getting ready times. Many of these situations will be sorted out when you meet with your House Proctor to fill out and sign your Roommate Agreement. Try to be as thorough as possible to eliminate problems in the long run.

Coming from my personal situation, a random roommate, or three, can be very difficult, but try to make the best of it. As long as you can be in the same room without fighting, you should be able to survive. If you have to, join clubs and other things that can get you out of the room, even if you go to Gelman and study for a few hours. If the rooming situation really isn’t working out for you, speak to your House Proctor and she will probably have some insight and may be able to help you out. Room swap does open up for Spring Semester so you may have options to keep in mind but also you should remember that if someone else is willing to switch, there is potential that your situation could go from bad to worse.

Leave your door open: People will pop their heads in to say hi so be friendly! Meeting more people means more opportunities for new friendships and new friendships means different people to hang with and get you out of your room. When people say that freshman year is all about meeting new people and “trial and error,” they aren’t kidding. It could take a month, a semester, or even the whole year to find a group of people that you feel comfortable with. When you feel alone, remember, you’re not the only one who feels like this. If you weren’t so lucky as to have your camp friend’s-home friend’s-cousin’s-best friend’s-camp friend available to request as a roommate, there’s still hope. I’m sure you’ve heard it more than a hundred times and I’ll say it again: you and your roommate(s) don’t have to be best friends, you just have to be able to live together. Set the ground rules early to avoid future problems, and then just do your own thing. Slap on a smile and stay positive and you will be just fine!

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