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Author in dorm room
Original photo by Nicolina Farmer

Guide to Living in a Dorm

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’m a junior living on campus this year. I know that’s an odd statement, but after being home my entire sophomore year due to COVID-19, I missed being around people. So, I decided to give dorm life another shot. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up from living in a dorm!

Keep your door open

Investing in a good door stop is key if you’re living in a dorm. Keeping your door open does so much for getting to know people in your hall. It allows anyone to stop by and say hello, and also it just shows that you are an open person willing to make friends.

Bring a fan (or two)

Look up beforehand if your dorm will have air conditioning or not. If it does not, bring multiple fans. The easiest is usually a box fan or two that you can set up in your windows to circulate the air. But another smaller fan by your desk or bed will do you wonders for the first few months. Even if your dorm does have A/C, if you cannot directly control it, bringing a fan is not the worst idea because you never know how it will be set.

get to know your roommate and their boundaries

This is true if you already sort of know your roommate and especially if you do not. I don’t mean get to know them in a “what’s your major” sense (although that is important). But sit down and have a frank conversation about all the things that will be impacting your day to day lives together. What time do they get up in the morning? Are they comfortable having guests over? What do their study habits look like? Virginia Tech accomplishes most of these questions with their Roommate Agreement, but it can’t hurt to discuss any other little things that aren’t on there that you can think of.

shower shoes are crucial

Community bathrooms are a special type of disgusting. You can’t always see it (thanks to our amazing housekeeping crews) but the amount of people that pass through that bathroom during the days where it isn’t cleaned is astounding. Always keep your feet off the floor, the shower floor especially, and any cheap pair of flip flops will do the trick. Also, remember to bring a robe if you’re the type of person that doesn’t enjoy walking back to their room in a towel.

Prepare for all kinds of weather

We all know to pack clothes for all different seasons, but your room needs a refresh every so often. You might need more blankets or warmer sheets in the summer, or an umbrella and rain boots for the spring. Definitely fans for the summer. Consider all the little things you use around your house during different weather that you would normally take for granted.

Plan your route to all things important

Since your dorm is your home base, it is crucial to know not just your walk to each of your classes, but to other buildings as well. How far is the library or the bookstore? What about the bus stop or dining hall? Is there a better one closer to you? How far is downtown? How far can you realistically walk to these places without needing to drive or take the bus? The list goes on. The bottom line is that it’s important to not only know where your dorm is in relation to classes but also to everything else that fills your time.

quiet hours are…interesting

Not everyone takes quiet hours seriously, and whether it is accidental or intentional, they are hardly a steadfast rule that everyone adheres to. However, there are probably a few unfortunate souls in your hall that have 8 a.m. classes, so do your best to make sure you and your friends are being respectful of the hours and of the other people in the hall. Everyone needs their sleep.

I know this article doesn’t make dorm life seem the most glamorous, and to be quite honest, it almost always is not. However, those late nights in the study lounges and casual hang outs in your room are going to lead to some of your favorite memories and best friends. At the end of the day, you will adjust. Just try to be kind, keep an open mind, and be respectful of others.

Loralee Hoffer

Virginia Tech '23

Loralee Hoffer is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Psychology with minors in Creative Writing and Adaptive Brain and Behavior. She is excited to write about health and wellness, relationships, body positivity, and campus life. Proud to be a part of the Her Campus team, she hopes to empower women and gain valuable experience, education, and friends along the way.
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