Surviving in your new dorm

Model: Elyse Russo Beck Diefenbach

Model: Elyse Russo Beck Diefenbach

By Se Young Lee

Caitlin Fischer’s first day as a University freshman and resident of Allen Hall was an exciting one. Fischer and her parents arrived on campus two days before the official move-in date, when the campus was empty. She was excited to begin her life as a college student, away from home and on her own.

Unfortunately, her exuberance was a bit dampened when she first saw her room.

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“I think my first impression was ‘oh my god, I’m living in a 10-by-10 cement box,” Fischer, now a senior in LAS, said.

Almost all students attending the University must live at least one semester in one of the 21 University residence halls or 17 private certified housing facilities.

Although the life of sharing bathrooms, getting to the cafeteria for serving times and having to make new friends with people from different towns and backgrounds can be a challenge for some, Fischer said she was able to make peace with her 12-foot-by-11-foot room and the chaotic life of nerf gun fights and late-night escapades.

“No matter where you go you’re going to meet people who are not like yourself. You’re going to be throwin in situations you’ve never been before,” she said. “College and living in the residence halls is what you make of it.”

Fischer was able to make plenty of friends with other students living on her floor and the rest of Allen But her relationship with her roommate was stormy at best.

“We went through these phases where we would be friendly and then wouldn’t speak for weeks at a time,” Fischer said.

“She rearranged the room without telling me and I came back with my friends one day and ‘hey, the room is different,'” she said. “And her computer was next to my pillow. So she would talk to people online while I was trying to sleep.

“I should have moved out, but I was too stubborn for that, too.”

Jinwoo Yoon, a senior in LAS, did not have many roommate problems because he ended up moving into the Florida Avenue Residence Halls with a longtime friend from high school. His other friends from high school also lived in the same building, so he was not short on people to hang out with.

“My basic day freshman year was class, eat lunch with friends at the cafeteria, go to my room and play some computer games, go visit friend’s floors, play poker, chill and watch a movie,” Yoon said.

Unlike Fischer, Yoon had some trouble getting to know his floormates.

“I didn’t really get to know (them) since they were all sorts of introverted,” Yoon said. “Other floors seemed more interesting. I got to know people on other floors.”

The biggest complaint Yoon had about dorm life was the cafeteria.

Although he liked the fact that he did not have to pay every time he went to eat (“I liked cafeteria food unlike most people. But then I eat anything.”), he said the cafeteria often got cramped and that it was hard to get there on time for the serving hours.

“I wished dorms had cafeteria open all the time,” Yoon said. “Sometimes classes got in the way and I would have to skip meals.”

When asked what they would tell incoming freshmen if they could give them advice on how to have a good year in the dorms, Fischer and Yoon had the same message: don’t pass up on opportunities to make friends.

“Just be relaxed, let things flow and be open when people come to meet you,” Yoon said.

Things we wish we’d had in our rooms

  • ?Reading lamp – Sometimes your roommate will want to, you know, sleep. If you don’t want to, the reading lamp will help you do what you want without waking your roomie.
  • ?Movies – You’ve probably heard you don’t spend much time in your room while at college. We heard that, too. And trust us, you’ll want your movies.
  • ?Comfortable chair – Unless you enjoy watching everything from your bed or the floor, you’ll want something soft to sit on. University furniture works, but it’s not the most comfortable thing to sit on after a busy day.
  • ?Nice speakers – You want to listen to your music? Or, want to stop listening to your neighbor’s music? You’ll want something so you can hear.

    Things you absolutely must have

  • ?TV – This may seem obvious but triple check to make sure you have one. You really can’t live without it.
  • ?Refrigerator – There are vending machines in the residence halls, but it’s cheaper to buy your own drinks and store them in your room.
  • ?Microwave – You’ll be out of luck if you get hungry after the cafeteria closes without one. And, there will be days when you don’t want to try the “special.”
  • ?Hamper – Those dirty clothes have to go somewhere, and you really don’t want them on the floor. And, if your hamper has handles, it makes it easier to do laundry.
  • ?Fan – Most residence halls don’t have air conditioning. And, they get hot. You absolutely have to have a fan.