What Is It Like Living In The Dorms?

May 28, 2009

Dorm life is a unique experience.  Some dig it and others can’t wait to get out.  Here’s why.

The Rooms

Dorm rooms are generally smaller than your typical room in a house.  Obviously the more roommates you have, the bigger your room will be.

In general the reaction to singles is “damn is this room small” (My uncle called mine a closet), the reaction to doubles is “Oh, that’s alright” and the reaction to triples and quads is “damn is that big!”

Usually hallways have more than one type of room than the others.  Obviously, people tend to hang out in the larger rooms.

General Atmosphere

1.  Friendly.  Hallmates usually interact with one another a lot.

2.  Open.  It is tougher to have privacy if you live in the dorms than in other types of housing because of the culture and the realities of sharing a room with other people.

3.  Active.  Usually the halls are pretty noisy as other residents go out, return from going out or just hang out.

Social Life In The Dorms

Your hall mates are far and away the easiest people to meet and become friends with.  During the first couple weeks of school, they will be eager to make friends.

So long as you can provide some sort of fun (ie have cool stuff in your room, know where the cool parties are, etc.) then they will be more than happy to hang out with you, generally.

Even if you botch up the first couple of weeks, you will probably still end up becoming at least friendly with them. This is because you will inevitably run into them in the hallway, and start up some kind of conversation.

That said, hallways oftentimes split up into cliques.  In particular, the Greeks tend to mingle amongst themselves.

Unlike, say, an apartment complex, it is perfectly normal to just randomly walk into your hallmate’s rooms and hang out.  This is very common, since most residents keep their doors open.

You can tell how social a hallway is by the number of doors open on a given night.  During the first couple weeks, most residents keep their doors open.  If the hallway doesn’t gel, then that changes after a while.

It is also common for people to just hang out in the hallway.

Of course even in the most social hallways, there is always a few residents who will not participate at all.  Usually they are shy, have an independent social life (Usually upperclassmen are like this) or just don’t like other people.

Upperclassmen in the Dorms

While most upperclassmen tend to live off-campus, quite a few do stay in the dorms.  From my experience, they tend to be less social, probably because they already have friends from freshman year and aren’t scrambling for them like Freshman.

On top of that, some upperclassmen do not like the idea of hanging out with Freshmen.

That said, most are pretty open to socializing, so if you are a freshman do not hesitate in trying to make friends with them.  Just realize that they might not be as easy as a freshman.

Sex in the Dorms

Hookups are very common amongst hallmates.  That said, they are usually not a good idea.

The simple reason is that you will run into whoever you hook up with a lot, and if you are not 100% cool with him/her, it will be painfully awkward.

Additionally, the entire social dynamic of the hall can be thrown off by this.

Granted, this only happens if one of you feels wierd about the other person.  There are plenty of times when hallmates hook up and it is all fine and dandy afterwards.

Understand, though, that you are taking a pretty needless risk in doing it.

I say just hook up with his/her friends.

So that basically covers the important stuff, methinks.  If I think of more things that I think you should know about dorm life, I will publish a second part.


Should I Room Single Or With A Roommate Freshman Year?

May 27, 2009

This is an interesting question that has a simple answer: it depends on the experience that you want.

Here are the different experiences you will get with each.  Pick the one that you want.

Living in a single

1.  You will have your own room.  You do not have to worry about synchronizing bed times, being sexhiled, bringing guys/girls back to your place, or sharing resources

2.  You will have a place that you can go for some guaranteed alone time.  This is great when you need to “get away”

3.  You can close your door and have privacy

4.  Usually hallways with single rooms aren’t as loud as others (This is just a general trend)

5.  A potential downside is that you have to be very proactive about building up your social life.  You do not have a roommate bringing new people around

6.  There is also a greater tendency of people living in singles to isolate themselves in their rooms (Jokingly called dorm trolls)

7.  Singles also tend to be very small

Summary:  I have lived in a single for both years of college and have thoroughly enjoyed them.  It was nice being able to do my own thing and to have a place where I could be alone.   The key is to be proactive so that you do not fall into the dorm troll trap

Living with roomates

1.  Most roommates become friends during the year.  Your roommates will typically brings friends around as well, giving you another way to meet people

2.  Doubles, tripples and quads tend to have their doors more often than singles, which makes it harder to be isolated

3.  Most roommates get along splendidly, but there is a chance that you will have problems.  On the surface this seems bad, but on the positive side it will teach you valuable conflict management and general people skills

4.  These rooms tend to be much larger than singles

5.  Usually these rooms are where your neighbors will hang out (Singles are too small)

6.  If you get a roomate who comes from a different background than you, you will gain some pretty cool perspective

7.  You will undoubtedly get a lot of really cool stories

8.  You will learn how to communicate VERY well.  99% of roommate problems are due to a failure to communicate.

Summary:  Most of my friends who lived with roommates liked the experience.  There were moments, but in general it was pretty cool.  If you think you might need a kick in the ass to get social, then DEFINITELY live with a roommate, as you will get that kick.