One thing I hated about my freshman year was having to live in the dorms. It wasn’t that they weren’t nice, but the cost they added to my school was unreasonable.
And it was mandatory to live on campus. As in, unless I was able to provide some sort of proof that my direct kin (my parents only) lived in town was I able to petition to live off campus.
So, even though I had an aunt who lived 20 minutes from campus, I couldn’t petition to live off-campus with her because she wasn’t my direct relative.
So here I was, stuck in a room with a stranger. Which wasn’t horrible; she kept to her side, I kept to mine, we were courteous of each other. But we weren’t friends, which kind of sucked. Since we were both different majors, we didn’t have much to even begin to talk about to start a friendship.
Now, where I am going with this post? Some hard-earned advice; not the kind that came from the kids where everything worked out perfectly and they have the same exact perspective as everyone else to give.
This is the true shit no one else wants to say.
- It’s not going to always be good. You’ll have great days, don’t forget that, but more often than not you’re going to hate your room and roommate. There’s going to be days when the trash doesn’t get taken out, and you are stressing out from midterms and essays and group projects with people you can’t stand in a class you only took to balance out your class load. You could have the nicest, most courteous, considerate roommate and there will be days you get on each other’s nerves.
- Pinterest Boards are dirty liars. You can try to have the prettiest room and the best design and the prettiest notes, but the truth? You’re gonna abandon them in week 5 of the semester as you scramble to get everything done. You’re pretty comforter will be on your unmade bed as your desk becomes a collection zone of three-day old coffee mugs,, old notes, half-finished revisions, and a scattering of pens and note cards. You don’t intend to let it get that bad but between classes, study groups, clubs, and work, your Pinterest Ideal slips away. And there’s nothing wrong with that. (Check out my other post about my study tips Student life: Study Tips that actually work… )
- It’s okay if you don’t take to dorm life. Dorm life is supposed to be that transition period between leaving your parents and getting a foothold into the real world to live on your own. But maybe your parents (or guardians, my grandmother taught me) didn’t completely fail you when they raised you, so they actually taught you how to maintain your own house like cleaning, cooking, and just minor maintenance. If you feel that itch to get your own place, just wait. Use this time to get a feel for the housing market in your area and save up some money for rent.
- It’s okay to not know your neighbors. All of my RA’s pushed for us to know each other and be friends. But let me tell you something; it’s okay if you don’t want to get to know your neighbors. Do you know all your neighbors at your parent’s house? Probably not. So it’s okay if you don’t know every one on your floor, because if you’re leaving in 6 months to a year (or they are), then it’s very unlikely that you’ll stay friends after you quit seeing each other every day.
- You’re going to take too much no matter what those fancy lists say. Just like you, I poured over packing list after packing list to see what I really needed to bring for my first time away from home. Now, I didn’t think I brought as much as my roommate did, but towards the middle of the semester, I realized all the things I had brought that I didn’t need or use. So much of it was clothes and shoes that I brought as a ‘just in case’ item, or books that I loved reading as a child and couldn’t part with but didn’t touch in my dorm room, or tons of blankets that I thought I would need but we kept the dorm at a livable temperature. Some of the things you’ll bring will be for those ‘just in cases’ and the ‘better to have it and not need it’ things (lightbulbs, flashlights, first aid kits, etc.). It’s difficult to determine what you’ll need exactly until you get up there and spend your first few weeks on your own. But don’t feel guilty, like I did, when I realized all the extra stuff I brought for no reason. Instead I used it as an opportunity to downsize a little and donate some of my stuff to people who might actually need it.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the things you’ll learn living in a dorm your first year. Most of those horror stories you can google and dread about as other people complain about rude roommates, shitty rooms, tough RA’s, etc, etc.
I just thought I would shine a little light on that dream you have going on in your head that gets ruined the second week and makes you miserable because you wonder if this is all worth it.