Dorm Life: Tips for Freshmen Girls
It's that time of year again...
It's August, the time of shopping from school supplies and updating wardrobes, but for college freshmans it's more like moving on to a whole new era in life so the usual tweaks in clothing and bookbag materials just aren't going to cut it. One things both parents and new college students should remember is that they shouldn't go overboard. It's a classic mistake that you look back on and realize just how many things you could have done differently, but rarely do people mention them. Well, I will, and this list is from personal experience.
1. Don't take your entire wardrobe (or even half of it)!
The closet space that you have in most dorm rooms is minuscule at best so it makes no sense to try to cram every bit of clothing into your suitcases and car only to send a good chunk of it back home or have your dorm end up a claustrophobic mess. Not only that, but you're not at home anymore and you'll have to do your own laundry. Most dorms have laundromats somewhere on campus or inside the dorms themselves and you'll end up lugging around more baskets filled with folded clothes than you'll want to. And if you end up living on a top floor of a dorm with the laundromat in the basement, imagine lugging those clothes back upstairs if the elevator is broken. I suggest taking a laundry bag with you and if you'd rather fold your clothes in your room and it's easier to just throw over your shoulder and go. Another good reason to pack light is that you won't be there long. You'd be surprised at how quickly the time flies and you'll end up packing up your things again for winter and summer breaks and having to go back and forth with mounds of clothes (some of which you probably won't even bother to wear) just isn't worth the headache.
2. Keep your money safe (even if you think you know your roommate).
College is supposed to be the place where you learn some of the most valuable lessons about yourself, and it could be the place where you learn some valuable morsels about other people as well. I was warned before I went off to college to not be roommates with my best friends because you will not end up being friends anymore. I didn't believe in it then and I don't believe in that now. It all has to do with the character of the person and it is true that you may end up getting into a fight every once in a while or your ideas may clash, but that's how things are when you're living with someone. If your friendship ends because you became roommates it probably wasn't much of a friendship to begin with. It all has to do with finding out the character of people and I found out that the girl I considered my "best friend" stole money from me. We'd had incidents in the past, but this was obvious because she was the only person who saw where I put my money (hidden in the top of the wardrobe). Later on I found out other unsavory things about her and not to make her sound like a monster and me some kind of saint, but she flows along a completely different moral stream than I do. Keep your valuables tucked away, but if it means a whole lot to you, and if it's avoidable don't take it with you to your dorm room.
3. Keep your room décor as simple as possible.
I understand that maybe you want to impress others, making a statement about your fashion sense and all, but don't go overboard. Keep it simple. Keep in mind that there probably won't be a lot of traffic in your dorm room in the first place. Again, keep the area in mind that you're about to decorate. There are some dorm rooms I've seen where the space isn't even big enough to use anything more than a bathmat if you could, so save your money. If you must, and if you have the space for it, a cute rug, some nice pillowcases (don't bother taking more than two pillows, you'll barely have enough space for those), a nice comforter and a poster or two will take you a long way.
4. Take cleaning supplies.
Most dorms do have a broom and a mop or two, but I would suggest taking a bottle of Clorox Clean-Up, paper towels, a wastebasket with garbage bags, Lysol, PineSol and your own mop and broom (along with a dustpan and a bucket). You should already have a container of bleach to do your laundry with and trust me, you will more than likely need it. This may sound like a lot, but it's not when you, your roommate or one of either of your friends gets sick in your room; and you maybe wondering where you can put it, but you should be able to find somewhere to put those things the same as you would find somewhere to stash your laundry basket(s), washing powder, and dryer sheets. Some dorms allow you to have microwaves in your room and some don't, but they'll at least have one in the lobby or on each floor, so you'll definitely need some Clorox Clean-Up on hand for that. Keep in mind that the janitors that work for the college aren't going to be there to pick up after you every second of the day and they won't be there to pick up after other people either, and with so many girls around things will get disgusting very quickly. I used to share a bathroom with 5 other girls and I would use Wednesday afternoons to go and sanitize the area so to speak with bleach and toilet cleaner. If you're used to your mother picking up after you on a constant basis this will be a good opportunity for you to learn what it will be like on your own.
5. Don't be so quick to judge.
With that said, this statement goes both ways. Don't be so quick to label someone a b*tch and don't be so quick to call someone a friend. One former roommate of mine hit it off well with the girls in her dorm suite for the first couple of weeks and then they went out to a party. Not only did my former roommate nearly get raped, but those same girls set her up, left her there and then they spread a rumor saying that it was a consenual gang bang that took place on her (the rape never took place, another guy actually saw what was going to happen,or he was told, and he took her in his own dorm room and locked the door so they couldn't get to her; the other girls hadn't stuck around to know about that part). From my own experience, a couple of people that I didn't like at first turned out to be some of my closest friends till this day. Learn to step out of your comfort zone with some people and learn new things, but if you get bad vibes from some people leave them alone. I know it's college, but there are bad people everywhere.
6. Be sure your necessities outweigh your luxuries.
When I use the word "luxury" in this sense I'm not necessarily talking about anything nice. If you look in some people's dorm rooms you'll see trinkets and things from home that it look as though they randomly threw them into a bag and they're using their dorm room as a kind of dumping ground. Don't use the time for packing to leave for college as a means to clean up your bedroom at home by transferring junk. I helped my cousin move out of her dorm room last year and some of the things I was helping her pack I was confused as to whether I should throw it away or bring it back with us. I guarantee that if you only take with you the things that are needed from your bedroom you will see how exactly how little you use certain items and it will cut down on packing time in the long run.
7. Only make complaints when necessary.
Yes, it's good to know your R.A. (resident assistant). It's also good to know when to file a complaint. Not everything is a cause for you to run and tell someone, you'll only end up making enemies. College is a good time for you to develop good communication skills and assertiveness so if someone is bugging you, let them know. Don't run to someone else every single time because then you could end up in an even less than desirable situation than to begin with. However, if you have a roommate that is constantly making your life miserable or your personalities just clash, there's no reason you have to stay there and suffer. We pay too much for our college educations and room and board to be uncomfortable with who you're living with for three months straight. Some logical complaints to me would be if she is constantly drunk and/or disorderly (she probably shouldn't be since she'll be between 17-19 years old, but we all know it happens, it doesn't make it right, but it does take place), if you've repeatedly asked her keep the traffic down in the room and you always see different people in your room, on your bed or in your things and the problem never gets resolved, if your roommate has boundary issues of her own, if she's stealing from you, racial prejudice, hostility due to religion, if you come back to your room and she's having sex, if she makes you leave so she can have sex, or other forms of outright disrespect. There are other things, but you get the idea. If your complaints seem warranted more than likely they will move you to a different room.
8. The "Freshman 15" is a myth.
I didn't gain any weight during my freshman year, in fact, I actually LOST weight. And before you even think it, I don't have a fast metabolism and I'm not skinny at all. I was living on a really big campus so I not only walked a lot, but I was so nervous when I first started I wasn't hungry at all (I have a very healthy appetite, I love to eat and I love food). Not to mention there was always something to do, somewhere to go, or something I had to read or work on. I ate when I was hungry. However, if you're really worried about this, don't keep any snacks in your room with you. You'll be surprised at how much we rely on candies and sodas and chips throughout the day and call it a "meal". I highly doubt you'll be lounging in dorm room ordering pizzas every night. Number one, you probably won't have the money and number two, you'll probably end up going to the cafeteria to grab something because a lot of the times someone you know will either want you to meet them there or it's just more convenient. If you're wondering, probably only about 30% of the time will you spend in your dorm room, you'll probably be getting enough exercise, but just in case you're doing a lot of studying, grab a carry out bag from the cafeteria and bring it to your dorm room to have for later. You'll be glad you did.