When you think about the college experience, the first thing that probably pops into your head is a cramped but cool dorm room full of photos, string lights, and friends. It’s a nice picture, and it’s part of what makes college seem so exciting and fun, but the harsh truth is that dorm life isn’t always what you think it’s going to be. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, exactly, it just means that most people find it to be very different from their expectations. And, honestly, you should be more informed on that kind of living situation before you make the decision to do it. There are some little things to know about living in a dorm room that people rarely talk about, but that are really important to keep in mind.
I’m not talking about the stereotypes that most people know aren’t true, like the fact that dorm rooms are way smaller than they appear in movies and TV shows, or the fact that you and your roomie will become best friends immediately. I’m talking about smaller things that don’t get discussed as often because you don’t think to ask about them. Deciding to live on campus during college is a big, expensive decision, and it’s not one that you want to regret halfway through the year when you’re stuck there. That’s not the experience anyone wants! So, here are a few things you absolutely have to know about living in a dorm room, taken from this Ask Reddit thread. Thank us later!
You Can't Be Too AgreeableWhen you first start doing something as intimate as living with a stranger, your first instinct might be to act accommodating and open. It's natural to want to come off as the ~cool and chill~ roomie who isn't going to be a downer or a party pooper, so you might act like you're cool with whatever to impress people and/or make friends. But, uh, don't be this way. If you don't speak up about what you want and don't want, you're going to end up making things harder for yourself. User turingtested explains: "This sounds bad, but if you share a room, do not be overly accommodating when working out your roommate agreement. If you know you'll feel uncomfortable with others sleeping in the room, let it be known. Anything like that, don't try too hard to be cool. Also, talk about problems as soon as they arise, rather than waiting until it's a huge issue. If you like peace, considering living in the quiet dorm. Of course, you can always go out to parties, but quiet dorms tend to be chill and focused on studies." Source: iStock
You Have To Make Friends QuicklyA lot of incoming college freshmen are most worried about making (or not making) friends. You most likely WILL make friends, but your best time to do it is right away, when you first move in. Everyone is looking for a friend or a buddy, so each person is going to latch onto the first person they find who they kind of like. User bofasonsofa agrees, saying, "The first couple weeks of freshman year is the easiest time to make new friends. Everyone is eager to make new friends. It gets harder (not impossible, just a little harder) after people start settling into their new social circles." It's true - once social circles get established, it's difficult to get in there. Of course, people switch up friends quite often in college, but your best bet is getting in early with some people. Source: iStock
The RA Is Not Your Worst EnemyResident assistants, AKA RAs, get a bad rep for being boring, annoying, and a total killjoy. But you shouldn't look at them as if they're the enemy. RAs are just like you - students who want to get through college. They usually take the job for the free dorm room that comes with it, not so that they can torture their peers. User FeatofClay points this out, saying, "Don't look on the housing staff (like your RAs and the hall director) as your enemies. They can be your allies and it's to your benefit to be considerate. You may need them to cut you some slack some day, and that will be more likely if you've fostered a good relationship with them. Recognize that they have a job to do, even if you don't always appreciate the result."
You Won't Need Most Of The Things You BroughtGetting ready for your first semester in a dorm room is intimidating. You read tons of suggestions on what to bring, and you want to be fully prepared for any situation, so you pack a ton of stuff. But, as userDracobolt points out, "You won't need most of the supplies you think you will, and the things for your room you end up needing won't occur to you until you've been there a couple weeks and find yourself without them." It's true - you'll find that a lot of the things you brought are useless, and you'll be stocking up on essentials for a long time.
College Campuses Can Be Really DangerousNot to get depressing, but it's really important to remember how dangerous it can be to live on campus. Once we start living somewhere and considering it home, we automatically start feeling safe and secure. You shouldn't walk around paranoid all the time, but you should definitely stay on your toes. This isn't your home sweet home, after all. As user backbitting says: "Campuses are more dangerous than you think, at any given time there is a predator on campus whether your realize it or not and whether the school publicly addresses it or not. Treat your campus at night time as you would any dark street in the down town core. Many times did i walk home at 2-3 am thinking i was safe in a small little college town. Unbeknownst to me there was a rapist on the loose on campus that the school and police decided not to inform the students about. as i started asking more questions, i found this trend to be common." Source: iStock
It's Okay To Be Selfish SometimesYou have to learn to speak up when you live in a dorm room, or you will never survive. If a roommate knows she can walk all over you, chances are good that she'll do just that. You need to speak up and say no sometimes, and you also need to do things that are just for you sometimes. User kasuchans explains: "It is OK to be selfish. It is OK to be yourself in your room (within reason). When laying down the roommate agreement, do not agree to anything you feel iffy about, such as if a roommate wants to sex partners or you from being braless (both of which I have seen). Also, within limits, lose shame. I lived in a single in a building with paper thin doors and walls. I still had a satisfying sex life. I know couples that haven't had sex in weeks because they're always worrying about whether or not people down the hall can hear them. It's college, and while don't go around like a shrieking eel, people expect and understand a basic level of sex noises."
A Lot Of Opportunities Come With Dorm LifeOne of the biggest advantages of living in a dorm is the freedom to do whatever you want without your parents saying no. But another great thing is all of the awesome opportunities that come with it. Don't believe me? UserFeatofClay explains: "Never again will stuff be so convenient to you, just a short walk or campus bus ride away--take advantage of it! Some of it free, too. Concerts, lectures, performances, planetarium shows, movies, workshops, etc. Try it out. DO IT. Even if you're not so sure how interested you are. Later in life, when this stuff becomes available, you'll have to buy tickets, find parking, and other hassles. I look back on my time in college (when I lived on campus all four years) and I cannot believe how much stuff I blew off, stuff that would have been so easy to give a try." Source: iStock
You Have To Be Okay With Being By Yourself SometimesA lot of people think that living in a dorm means you'll be surrounded by people at all times. This is true to a point, but there are also plenty of times you'll find yourself totally alone. A lot of people can't handle that! Just listen to waht user Septimusattack has to say about it: "being able to be on your own is imperative. There won't always be friends around to eat because they have classes too. There won't always be things to do because college is closer to real life. Learn to enjoy the quiet, eat alone, and enjoy your own thoughts/The Internet."
You Need To Stock Up On Snacks In Your RoomGetting a meal plan is great, but it's not going to solve all of your food problems. There will be moments when you're starving, but you don't want to leave your dorm to get something. You might be up in the middle of the night in need of a snack, but there might not be anything open. Maybe you're not feeling well or in the middle of studying. Whatever it is, you should have a food stash to reach for. User thebloodofthematador says: "You will want snacks or easy meals in your room. Provided you have a microwave, you can't go wrong with Easy Mac/ramen/peanut butter and jelly and bread." Snack foods are fine, but make sure you have real food too, because chips won't always get the job done.
It's Going To Be Loud Almost All The TimeDorm rooms are not quiet or peaceful, even if you're alone in your room - the rest of the building is still there. As user wyvern_awakening says, "Depending on where you go, there will be people walking around the halls at night and not caring about the person sleeping in the dorm across from them. College kids are loud and uncaring mostly." No one really tries to be quiet in college, because their defense is something like, "Uh, no, we're in college, chill." Don't expect people to quiet down for you. Learn to live with the news or invest in some good headphones. Source: iStock
You Can Get A Different Roommate If NeededYou probably already know that you might hate your roommate. But maybe you don't know that you can usually swap roomies if there's a really big problem. User buttermybackside says, "room assignments can be changed. If you're rooming with someone you've never met and you hate each other it's not worth being miserable. Speak up and your university will almost always be willing to work something out with you." Most colleges will make you wait until in between semesters, some even make you wait after a full year, but if there's a really serious issue, some will work something out mid-semester. Source: iStock
It's Not For EveryoneWe live in a society that pushes dorm culture on us, because we live in a society that is made for extroverts. Everyone acts like living in a dorm is the most essential part of a college experience. And, yes, it is a really big experience and nothing else is like it, but that doesn't mean you have to love it. You don't! I know plenty of people who came home from school because they didn't like living there. User copernicusz says, "That it's not for everyone, and that I, in particular, would absolutely hate it. That life isn't like a teen TV show / movie where you meet your best friend the day you move in and everything's awesome." Source: iStock