Living in a dorm next year? Chances are you’ll have an RA, or resident assistant, assigned to your building or floor. This is someone you need to get to know. He or she is usually an upperclassman who lives in one of the dorms and is there to enforce the rules but also to help the residents with anything they need. An RA is someone you can talk to if you are homesick or have roommate problems. He or she can also answer any questions you may have about college life.
I was lucky enough to serve as an RA for two years at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, which has students from over 50 countries. I spoke with many students who were far from home and sometimes had a hard time adjusting to life in a dorm. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of our best tips to survive living in a college dorm. Here are some of the survival tips I shared.
Dorms: the cheapest form of housing
I have never used this type of accommodation much, preferring private rooms. I have to say that in Asia, the price of rooms in guest houses and other hotels is so low that I often take advantage of it. You really have to travel on a small budget to sleep in a dormitory.
It is probably in South America that I have used dormitories the most. There, the price of the rooms is often high, except maybe in Bolivia. Concerning Cuba, the particularity of the island is that you don’t have a hotel for backpackers (and therefore no dormitory). The best plan is to stay in Casas, particularly with the locals.
1. Don’t just yell. Talk about it
Even if you knew your roommate beforehand, living with him (or her) will be completely different. You could move in with a stranger and make it the best living situation. Or you could live with your best friend of 10 years and have it be the worst. The key to success is communication. If there is a problem, ALWAYS talk to your roommate first. If you are still having problems after talking, ask your RA for help, especially if you think you need to change rooms or roommates.
2. Make your room represent you
Your dorm room isn’t just where you sleep or study. It’s your home. Make it what you can. Show off your personality. Put up the posters your mom never let you put up at home. Add a rug or colorful pillows. Do whatever you can to make your room a comfortable place to call home.
3. A clean room is a happy room
Cleanliness is important. Whether you share a space with one person or seven, you should have a cleaning schedule. Don’t fall into a situation where one person always cleans up after the others just because that person is a neat freak. Set a schedule that everyone can follow so that your room or suite is always clean. Keep in mind that if your room is messy when you leave at the end of the semester, you may be charged a cleaning fee.
4. Snack time is the best time
Some colleges have 24-hour meals, while others don’t offer food after midnight. Have snacks on hand, as you will get hungry during those late-night assignments. You don’t always have to eat ramen noodles! Try healthier snacks like granola bars, fruit, and yogurt. Watch out for that Freshman 15! (And remember, the Freshman 15- gaining 15 pounds- doesn’t just apply to freshmen).
5. Be open to differences
One of the benefits of living in a college residence hall is that you will likely meet people from other countries who were raised differently than you. You may see students dress differently or eat different foods. College is a great place to expand your horizons and learn about other cultures.
Don’t dismiss people based on their differences. Instead, try to get to know these students and learn something new. You never know. That guy or girl down the hall might turn out to be one of those longtime college friends people always talk about!
Sound off in the comments section below, and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about living in a college dorm.