Wild parties in the quad? Streakers running across the lawn? Those are probably some of the images that pop into your head when you think of dorm life. Sure, college can be a wild and crazy time, especially if you live in a dorm, but we’re here’s some surprising stuff about dorm life that may not yet have crossed your mind.
1 . You’re living in a fishbowl
Dorm life is very public because you’re surrounded by people at all times, which means everyone knows your comings and goings. If you break up with your girlfriend, everyone in your hall will know. If you had a long night and found yourself face down asleep in your dorm’s common room, there’s a good chance dozens of people heard you snoring. Life in a dorm is like living in a fishbowl.
Whether you like it or not, privacy is somewhat hard to come by in college, even if you lock yourself in your room and try not to come out. If you’re someone who values privacy, then you might find yourself feeling a little exposed when living in a dorm.
There’s an upside to this, though. Keep in mind that college is about making connections and establishing friendships that will last a lifetime. Many of the friendships you make will be with people that you’ve shared dorm space with, so shake off any anxiety you might feel about everyone knowing everything about you and instead think about how much of a supportive community you have.
2. Mooching is a way of life
It doesn’t matter if you go to a college full of wealthy students or not, free things motivate everyone in college. You can order a pizza just for yourself and suddenly find yourself surrounded by a group of friends (or strangers) who are hoping you’ll share a slice … or seven. Likewise, someone is bound to ask you for that last pack of ramen they somehow know you have. (Remember, there’s no privacy in college.) Or maybe you’re expecting a care package from your parents filled with goodies. Well, expect your roomie or the loner down the hall to ask for whatever you don’t want.
We get it. The reality is that most college students, no matter where they come from, are broke, and trying to get whatever resources they can from whomever they can.
So, be prepared to share what you have. College life sometimes resembles a commune more than anything else. Have an extra tube of toothpaste? Leave it in the common area for someone who might have just run out. Don’t think you’ll need that extra pair of flip flops? There’s a 100% chance someone else in your dorm would happily take them off your hands.
3. You’ll get accustomed to the unexpected
It’s midnight and you’re cramming for a midterm when a random person walks by you wearing a toga, a Deadpool mask, and rainbow-colored socks. Unexpected? Probably. But instead of staring, you’ll most likely just continue studying without pause, because college life is full of the unexpected.
Your life in a college dorm will be riddled with moments like this when the unexpected seems to happen daily. The unexpected might be walking into the shower and finding that someone left their pet turtle in there even though pets are strictly prohibited in dorms. The unexpected might be someone streaking down the hall just because it happens to be Monday. Or the unexpected might be an impromptu animal rights protest where students raid the cafeteria and run away with all the meat.
These examples might seem unlikely, but college is unpredictable. So, if you’re the type of person who likes predictability and for things to stay the same, dorm life might be a little difficult for you. Still, you’ll get used to it if you just shrug it off and learn to embrace the element of surprise.
Dorms are where you’ll discover that everything you thought you knew for certain in life is not as black-and-white as it first seemed.
4. Sanitation is never a given
Dorm life can be gross. Think about it: You’re surrounded by hundreds of people and all their germs. Between the coughing, sneezing, and just improper hygiene, it’s like kindergarten all over again: the perfect environment for all sorts of viruses and bacteria.
Think about how often you’ll need to touch a doorknob, use a computer that’s not yours, or eat in a common area, sharing drinks and food. Getting sick is bound to happen. Luckily, your body will be able to fight off most common colds and other minor illnesses on its own. However, remember to be safe. All that advice you learned in grade school about washing your hands and not sharing cups or utensils still applies in college.
No matter how tempting it might be to just finish off your best friend’s coffee or last slice of pizza that he’s already taken a bite of, reconsider it.
Along those lines, take a first aid kit that contains things like triple antibiotic cream, rubbing alcohol, and even pocket-sized hand sanitizer with you when you move into your dorm. Be sure to also pack cold medicine (the non-drowsy kind: You don’t want to fall asleep while studying).
And if you do come down with something, visit your college or university’s clinic before your symptoms worsen. Don’t just blow it off. In college, you’ll be exposed to people from everywhere, which also means germs from everywhere, so it’s important to stay well and safe.
5. You’ll make arguably the best memories in your dorm
We’ve all heard stories of someone meeting their best friend or future spouse in college. Aside from meeting people you will befriend for life, you’ll also make memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Your dorm is where you’ll first go to parties. It’s where you’ll have late-night study sessions. It’s where your ideas about the world you thought you knew will be challenged. It’s where you’ll meet someone from your hometown and someone whose hometown is in a completely different country. It’s where you’ll find that the person you have the least in common with is the person you enjoy hanging out with the most.
You’ll discover that everything you thought you knew for certain in life is not as black-and-white as it first seemed. In other words, your view of yourself and your reality will change and grow in college, all thanks to the relationships and experiences you have living in your dorm.
And you’ll look back at those memories with fondness for years to come. Whether you’re the shy, quiet type or the type-B extrovert, your dorm will be home. And when you go back in five, 10, or 15 years to visit after graduation, it’ll be the first place you’ll want to visit, because aside from wherever your family is, it’s going to be one of the few places that you ever consider home.
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