How to Survive Dorm Life as an Introvert

For some, living in the dorms is an integral part of the college experience. Making friends with your dorm neighbors, late nights giggling with your roommate, and dining hall plates piled a foot high with anything that looks semi-edible— there is something admittedly special about spending your freshman year living in a dorm.

But for others, living in the dorms is a necessary evil that must be tolerated for nine long months. Although I can appreciate the experiences I had in the closet-sized room I spent my first year of college sleeping in, I was unapologetically part of the latter group. I had my apartment lease signed by late September, because that’s how long it took me to figure out that dorm life was something I could only be subjected to for a year.

For introverts like myself, dorm life can be very challenging. It wasn’t the dining hall food (I kind of liked it) or the lack of closet space (my closet was smaller at home) that made my freshman year so difficult— it was the lack of alone time. Here are five tips I picked up throughout my freshman year that helped me survive the introvert’s nightmare that is dorm life. 

  1. 1. Coordinate schedules with your roommate 

    Uninterrupted alone time in your dorm room is a rare commodity in college. Take full advantage of this time by learning your roommate’s schedule. If you know they don’t have class until 5 p.m. on Mondays, take until then to get your studying over with at the library! When you know they have their three-hour bio lab, you can use that time to soak up that sweet silence in your room.

  2. 2. Utilize headphones

    Headphones are the universally understood symbol for “leave me alone and don’t try to talk to me.” This is a valuable tool for the introvert. Utilize your headphones as often as needed: in the dining hall, in your room, before class. You don’t even have to be listening to anything! It’s like creating your own alone time in public… amazing.

  3. 3. Recognize and communicate your needs

    This is a hard one. In order to take care of yourself, you first have to be able to recognize what it is you need. Sometimes it’s going for a walk instead of going to the dining hall with your friends. Sometimes it’s telling your roommate you need an hour of silence. The more often you set boundaries and practice self-care, the easier it becomes. 

  4. 4. Take advantage of public spaces

    There is no place on earth with more random nooks and crannies than a college campus. Every time I walk to class, I discover another random unoccupied spot to study. Do some exploring on campus and find a few favorite places to escape to when your roommate has her boyfriend over again. These spots may be public, but they often feel closer to “privacy” than your own bedroom in college! 

  5. 5. Plan your days

    Things that you take for granted in high school don’t come as easily in college. Sometimes the only way to ensure you have enough alone time to feel sane is to intentionally plan an hour of the day to unwind. 

A full year of sharing a tiny room may seem daunting, but remembering these tips and choosing to be mindful about self-care will help to ease the strain. You may even find yourself enjoying the experience. But I can pretty much guarantee you won’t miss the communal showers.