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Dorm Life

 

You've been accepted. You've chosen your college. Now where are you going to live? If you're leaving your hometown for college, living on campus may be the answer. In fact a number of universities and colleges actually require students from out of town to live in the dorms for their first year or two of school. But moving out of your parents' house and in with 200 other people can be a bit of an adjustment. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to make your new living space funky, healthy and fun.

THE ROOMMATE WRANGLE
One of the biggest differences between home life and dorm life is sharing your space with a brand-new roommate. You could luck out and meet your new best friend, or you could be forced to share with someone you're pretty sure is from another planet. Your school's residence office tries to match up people with similar interests, but sometimes mismatches happen. It's a good idea to contact your new roomie before you meet face-to-face, just to get an idea of what you might have in common before you're living five feet away from each other. A quick phone call or email can help you make a good impression and ease your transition from strangers to roommates.

RULES ARE GOOD (REALLY)
Then you move in, and realize just how small the space you're sharing is. This is a good time to sit down with your new roommate and get acquainted. Do you iron your socks or do you wait to do laundry until the pile is taller than you? Be honest! Setting rules now will make living together easier for both of you. It's probably the first time either of you has lived apart from your parents, so it might take a little practice to get it right. Decide on study hours, music levels, cleanliness and guests before either of you gets into any bad habits. The most important thing is to agree on boundaries and to keep communicating. Remember that if you need advice or things get tense you can always go to your residence advisor-they've probably seen it all before.

DORM DECOR
After the roommate, your room decorations might be the first thing on your mind. Remember that your room will be small and probably drab-it is a dorm, after all. Your prized collection of porcelain dogs is unlikely to fit in your room and your school has its own Encyclopedia Britannica you can use. Some items just aren't allowed in dorms, like electric heaters and toaster ovens, so check your campus handbook before you pack. It's also a good idea to call your future roommate so you don't have two of everything or none of anything.

Things to bring (or buy when you get there-less packing!):

  • Your own towels, sheets and pillow-familiar things will make it easier to sleep in a strange bed.
  • Think plastic-dishes (enough for two), containers (flat ones you can shove under the bed or cubes you can stack), hangers (they're smaller than the wooden ones), hamper (you can put laundry inside it and stuff on top of it), sandals/shower slippers (think about it-communal shower!)
  • Alarm clock radio/CD player-tunes!
  • Memories-photographs and other (small!) mementos can help with homesickness
  • Power bar-there are never enough outlets
  • Fan-even if your dorm has air conditioning it's good to have a fan
  • Dry-erase or corkboard-good for writing notes to yourself or your roommate and keeping track of due dates
  • Rugs, prints, posters, lamps-you're going to be living here, so you should make it feel like home

  • Moving into the dorm is a huge change from living with the parents, and it might seem overwhelming at first adjusting all the new things. But it's also exciting, starting a new life and meeting so many new people. The key is to remember that even though everyone is different, you're all in the same boat. Explore your new surroundings and keep an open mind.

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