Moderation is the key to happy and successful dorm living
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 17:09
So congratulations—you’ve officially moved up in the world and now own a fabulous space known as a “dorm room,” thanks to your tuition payment. Like the rest of your first-year class, unless you’re one of those kids who’s spent time at boarding school, this is a completely new experience. Like riding a bike, new experiences are scary for the first few tries and then become second nature. So never fear.
Laundry and bathrooms are communal. Other things that are communal: your bathroom and laundry appliances at home. It’s basically the same thing as using a bathroom at school or at home.
A huge change is that now that you’re showering in a totally public-ish place, you’re going to have to carry your male-or-female hygiene stuff into the shower and out of the shower, preferably in a plastic caddy so you can easily reorganize and save it for the next day. Don’t forget to wear flip flops (let’s avoid foot funguses and other communicable diseases, shall we?) and bring your towel with you so you don’t have to call for help from the shower and hope to whatever higher power you believe in that your roommate can hear you.
Over time, you’ll develop a schedule that works for you. Unlike in high school, you probably don’t want to spend two hours getting ready for class at 7 a.m., because you need to save time to get to the dining hall, or Dunkin’ Donuts or office hours if you choose. If you don’t have a printer in your dorm, you might need to fit time in for that, too—especially with the morning rush.
You might be used to doing laundry at home, or you might not. Remind yourself that you’re spending $2.50 or more for one wash/dry cycle and let that information guide you to a system that works. Maybe you can totally afford doing laundry each week, but ask yourself if it’s really worth it. If your laundry basket fills up super quickly, remind yourself that you can wear most sturdy clothes like jeans more than once. It’s up to you to figure out what “a load” of laundry is—whether it’s four days worth of clothes or waiting until your underwear and socks run out. As a helpful nudge—your whole floor won’t be too happy if you hog two washers and dryers to yourself during the weekend (generally the busiest laundry time) and then neglect to take it out on time (washers run 30 min. and dryers run 60 min.). All this will get you is your laundry in a messy pile on top of the washers or on the floor so that other people can access the machines. Embarrassing.
Floors means friends! (Insert huge tacky smiley face and heart here). Are you going to be the bestest-best friends with the same people you meet freshman year for all four years? Nope. Not at all. However, you will be able to branch out through the people you meet on your floor, begin interacting in groups and start to get a feel for what college life is like once you’ve been on campus awhile. For example: leave your door open. Hang a whiteboard next to your door and write on it so that people get an idea of what you’re like. Decorate your door with your roommate and post pictures of things you like to do. Get to know the people you’re living with (whether you’re in a double or triple) by hanging in other rooms, but also get the heck out of there.
Mix groups of friends—join an intramural team with some people on your floor but try and open it up to new friends as well. Go out to the mall with people you don’t really know that well. Visit other dorms. Get space from your roommate and your floor—it’s healthier for you and your relationships. This might sound completely redundant, but you’re going to attract what you put out there. So put out your best, true self and the people that you would best get along with are going to show up.
Don’t forget that you’re living in a place where you’re in close contact with over 50 people per floor. This means that if you’re sick, take precautions. Take extra care of yourself—nap in the afternoons after class or take a day off. Shower often. Empty your trash frequently so snotty tissues don’t sit and spread their rancid germs everywhere. Use Lysol spray a couple times a day around the room and the area just outside your room, and keep the windows open. Wipe common appliances, accessories, door handles and, if you feel like it, sink knobs in the bathroom with disinfecting wipes. One of my best friends freshman year described our dorm floor as a “petri dish” because once one person got sick, the germs literally seemed to breed and get everyone else sick, too. There are ways to prevent this—just think ahead and take care of yourself. If others around you are sick, try and stay out of the dorm and in the fresh air. Eating healthy and drinking water are the two easiest solutions to most of life’s troubling moments—food + water = energy = stronger immune system = you’re better at everything.