First-year dorm experiences have their struggles
February 15, 2021
The beginning of your college experience is an adjustment, to say the least. For the first time, you are living out from beneath your parents’ roof, released from their rules and free to make decisions that revolve around your time table, nobody else’s. First-year college students deal with many struggles during this adjustment whether it be balancing their social life and school life, grappling with homesickness or meeting new people. One struggle in particular is the adjustment to dorm life.
At the University of Illinois, first-year undergraduate students are required to live in housing certified by the vice chancellor of Student Affairs or designee for their first academic year unless a waiver request is submitted and approved. This means the majority of first-year undergraduates get the full dorm-living experience.
For many students, this is an exciting experience. Some students become roommates with old high school friends while others join new-student Facebook groups in hopes of finding someone they might get along with. New college students flood Targets across the world to buy their many essential dorm items, whether a carpet, shower shoes, a 10-foot long charger, a Keurig or whatever else they deem necessary to have at college.
Move-in day quickly rounds the corner and the excitement is brimming as students finally put their dream dorm room together. Yet, amid all of this excitement comes the realization this new home is nothing like the home they know.
In the first year, students will encounter many differences in lifestyle in the dorms. Suddenly, your bathroom is a community bathroom where you have to wear flip flops every time you shower. The food from the cafeteria quickly loses its charm as your left aching for the home-cooked meals you had with your family. You have to learn how to live with another person, how to compromise and how to be flexible with your sleeping schedule if you and your roommate are on different pages, or, worse yet, if you prefer going to bed early while your neighbors like to blast music late into the night. In addition, of course, you have the occasional cockroach encounter.
Dorm living is no luxury. While some halls provide more comfort than others, this adjustment nonetheless can be a shock to many students. Yet just as there is to every adjustment in life, there lies a significance behind the struggle. This is the first time students from different backgrounds are placed in the same situation: Every student in a particular hall is experiencing the same dorm life challenges no matter their backgrounds. It’s learning to make do with these changes that set students up for life beyond college. Learning to embrace the shower shoes, the mediocre food, the cockroaches and disagreements with your roommate is learning to roll with the punches of life and knowing that not everything is within your control.
So, as you call the front desk to report a disgusting cockroach infestation and as you long for the days when you could take a shower without walking down a long hall past all of your neighbors, just remember this is only preparing you for the many punches life will hit you with further down the road. This is the real world; not everything is glorious.
Abby is a freshman in LAS