7 Tips for easing into dorm life

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7 Tips for easing into dorm life

As a college student, you're probably pretty stoked about your newfound freedom. It's exhilarating to leave the nest, venture out, and stretch your wings a bit. But if you're staying in a dorm, you probably already know that living in a big building with a bunch of strangers is quite different from home life -- and it's not always easy. Here are some tips to make the adjustment easier.

1. Keep an open mind.

In a college dorm, you're bound to meet people from areas on the map that may be quite different from yours. You'll encounter people with unique interests and personalities, some of whom you'll be more comfortable with than others. It's okay to mesh with some, but not all, of your fellow dorm mates.

But while you don't have to befriend everyone in the building, try not to judge people too quickly. Instead, keep your mind as open as possible. You might meet someone with whom you never would have associated in high school. Give them a chance. College provides an extraordinary opportunity to meet new people, expose yourself to a variety of interests and ideas, and learn about who you are as a person.

If your dorm hosts any activities or outings, consider attending -- even if the activity is slightly out of your comfort zone. For example, you might not like laser tag all that much, but playing with other people from your dorm can be a pressure-free way to get to know them better.

2. Expect some noise, and have a back-up plan.

It's a fact of life: dorms get noisy. You may have to deal with neighbors who blast music or engage in rowdy late-night gaming sessions. Most colleges enforce specific quiet hours in the dorm, but even so, you can't always count on peace and quiet.

So what do you do if the neighbors are partying but you need to study? Consider heading to the campus library or another quiet spot where you'll find it easier to concentrate. What if you're trying to sleep while others are making noise? Invest in some earplugs to mute the sound, or opt for a pair of noise-canceling headphones that block out unwanted noise but allow you to enjoy your own music or videos without disturbance.

3. Find a spot for some alone time.

Even if you love your roommate and most of the people on your floor, the lack of privacy you have in a dorm will probably get to you from time to time. Not only will you be unable to have time alone in your room whenever you want, you may also have to share a bathroom with dozens of others.

Adjusting to that kind of communal living isn't always easy. That's why it's a good idea to choose a spot outside of your dorm where you can enjoy some alone time. It might be a bench beneath a shady tree on campus or a coffee shop around the corner from your dorm. Any spot will work as long as you can be by yourself and recharge your batteries.

4. Keep your room smelling fresh.

Gather a bunch of people who have never lived on their own before, and there's a good chance that not all of them will be conscientious about cleanliness. That can definitely lead to some funky odors. You can only control what goes on in your own room, of course, but be sure to take out your trash and do your laundry regularly to keep your room as clean and fresh-smelling as possible.

To deal with odors that might seep in from other rooms, buy a few air fresheners or even an essential oil diffuser to help conceal anything offensive. An open box of baking soda in a strategically placed location is another good odor absorber. Or, if you have the space, consider running a small air purifier in your room to catch dust and allergens as well as some unwanted smells.

5. Get to know your RA.

Nearly all dorms have an RA (resident advisor) or dorm supervisor. This is an upperclassman in charge of making sure everyone in the dorm follows school rules and helping students out when they're in a jam. If you get locked out of your dorm room, for example, your RA has a key to get you back in.

RAs can also help mediate if you have a conflict with your roommate or other students who live on your floor, and they can answer questions you might have about college and dorm life. For all of these reasons, it's a good idea to develop some sort of relationship with your RA. You don't have to become best friends, but you should introduce yourself and make a point of checking in periodically. That way, if you do need help, you'll feel a little more comfortable going to your RA with your problem.

6. Be prepared for the communal shower.

Unless you live in a room or suite with a private bathroom, you're probably going to have to use a communal bathroom with other students on your floor. That means whenever you need to use the bathroom or take a shower, you'll have to walk down the hallway to get to the shared room.

Investing in a comfortable bathrobe is key -- you don't want to have to deal with towel slippage as you hurry back to your room. You'll also want a shower caddy or basket for lugging your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and other toiletries back and forth from your room.

Bear in mind that a communal bathroom can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. As such, you will probably also want to bring a pair of flip flops you can use as shower shoes.

7. Arm yourself with snacks.

Your dorm probably has a dining hall close by, but there will be plenty of late nights when you're studying and want a bite to eat after the cafeteria has closed. Keep some of your favorite snacks on hand in your room, so you always have something to nibble on when a craving strikes. Chips, pretzels, cookies, granola bars, and protein bars can be stored anywhere you have space. Some colleges will also allow you to keep a mini fridge in the room. With refrigeration available, you can store fruit, veggies, sandwich fixings, and other perishables for quick, convenient snacks and meals in your room.
 

Jennifer is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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