Not sure what to expect from dorm life? You aren't alone. Living in dorms can play a major role in your college life. But it can be a shock to the system, especially if you're leaving the nest for the first time. Typical college dormitories offer less space and less privacy. Your roommate will be a stranger assigned to share a dorm room with you.
Luckily, a few basic college dorm tips from the Greek life professionals at Greek Gear can carry you through the rough spots, helping you to enjoy your college years. Here are 10 tips for surviving dorm life in college.
Make It Yours
A dorm room is basically just a cardboard box disguised as a bedroom. When you first move in, you won't see any of your familiar comforts. Be quick to make it your own. Put up posters and photographs. Add personal touches to make your dorm room stand out from other dormitory rooms.
Making your dorm your home can help reduce feelings of homesickness. It can also ease your stress levels when things kick into high gear.
Warm Your Dorm
Made some friends? Invite them to your room for a dorm-warming. This is another great way to transform your dorm into a temporary home.
Making friends and showing them around can help you all feel more at ease. Try to include your dorm mate in the proceedings. At the very least, make sure you won't disturb them.
Figure Out the Housekeeping
If you're lucky, your dorm mates will have done chores at the family home. If you're not, you might have to teach a college roommate some new habits. Either way, it's important to get the housekeeping stuff down early.
Figure out a cleaning schedule and stick to it. And don't be afraid to speak up if things are getting out of hand. If this goes right, you'll cut out one of the biggest causes of stress and drama in dorm life, which is a win for everyone.
Scope Out the Neighborhood
Once you're settled in your dorm, it's time to hit the nearest town. Check it out early to find the best nearby stores, coffee shops, libraries and parks. These will all make your student life easier by helping you avoid cabin fever in your dorm.
It's also a great opportunity to expand your horizons. There's a good chance you've never lived in another city, so immerse yourself in the culture of somewhere new and learn a little about your town. If you're planning to work while you study, this is also a great chance to scope out some potential employment opportunities.
Guard Your Stuff
Sharing is caring, but get used to guarding anything you don't want to share. Dorm mates don't always have the best sense of ownership. The idea that you have to give permission to use your stuff might be a basic societal law you have to introduce.
Be very clear about what you're willing to share, and do what you can to protect the rest. Communal dorms can wreak havoc on bathroom products, so keep them out of harm's way if you don't want to find stray hairs in your soap.
Adjust for New Noise Levels
College students can be loud. Getting used to this truth will prepare you for the marching elephants stomping down the hall. If you're a light sleeper, invest in a pair of quality earplugs. You can also listen to music on headphones to drown out the noise. And do your bit to avoid contributing to the hubbub. Spare a thought for the poor souls already in their beds when you return to your dorm from a late social event or study activity.
Find Your Zen Zone
College dorm life can get a little monotonous if you’re not careful; most days, you'll see the same faces and the same locations as you did the day before. This is why it's important to get out into the town. Find a place that no one else you know goes to. Make it your Zen Zone, and use it to hide out when you need a break from dorm life.
You won't always feel social, and the stress of college is enough to make anyone want the occasional timeout. Find your secret space, and retreat there whenever you feel like it.
Don't Burn Bridges
It's great fodder for a TV drama, but avoid starting fights and spreading rumors in the real world. Burning your bridges early won't make you friends; it'll just mark you out as a drama queen to avoid. Try to approach every situation with understanding. Oh, and never say something about someone if you wouldn't want it repeated to their face.
Stock the Pantry
Okay, you probably won't have a pantry, but keeping a good store of food is vital to maintaining your mood and your health. The cafeteria won't always be open, and you're still young enough to have weird eating habits. (Sometimes, the only thing that will carry you through your studies is six bags of pretzels.)
Keep food on hand for these emergency situations. Buy in bulk so you're not tempted to purchase expensive on-campus snacks. And always discuss with your dorm mate whether it's open season on your snack drawer or if you’d rather not share.
Dorm room life is not all about paranoia and survival tactics. Most students in freshman dorms will be just as out of their depth as you. So make friends, ask questions and laugh about the things you've all been too embarrassed to admit in the past. Making friends with an older student is a quick route to becoming the most prepared student in the dorm. They'll most likely let you in on all the dorm hacks they've learned over the years.
And remember: Joining a fraternity or sorority can be a great way to make a lots of new friends fast! If you’re interested, don’t be afraid to ask questions and do some research about what Greek life on your campus entails. Find out what organizations are available for you to potentially become a part of.
Living the Dorm Life
With these tips in mind, you won't just survive the dorm life, you'll love it. College dorms are a great place to spread your wings, make new friends and create memories that will last you a lifetime.