1. Personalize It
Dorms are pretty much the same everywhere, and yes those cinderblock walls suspiciously resemble a prison cell. You can, however, remedy this by making your dorm room feel like home as much as possible. Bring your favorite blanket, hang up posters you love, bring a lamp to combat the harsh fluorescent lighting, and add a rug. It won’t feel quite so cramped if you’re surrounded by the things that make you feel happy.
2. Write it all down.
It might not seem like this has much to do with your dorm room, but trust me. Write down your class assignments, appointments, and any event you want to attend on campus or in the dorm. Keeping a good hold on your time will reduce your stress levels and help you maintain a positive outlook, which is the key to not hating the dorm life.
3. Protect your feet.
I mean it. Don’t go into the shower or bathroom without shower shoes. Even though the bathrooms will be cleaned every day, there’s still the chance of contracting a less than pleasant skin infection. The boys’ bathroom is probably more dangerous than the girls’, but you can never be too safe.
4. Spend time out of the dorm.
You’re probably going to spend a lot of time in your dorm room or someone else’s dorm room. That’s a good way to become completely sick of any and all dorms. To prevent this, join some extracurricular activities. This will give you a reason to get out of your dorm room, and make friends with students that don’t live right down the hall from you. I can speak from experience that even if you have great friends in your dorm (and I did), you can still get sick of hanging out in the exact same place with them all the time. So join a club, make some more friends, and get a change of scenery.
5. Choose healthy foods.
You’ve heard of the Freshman Fifteen, and I can assure you it is a real thing. The problem with living in a dorm and having free range of a cafeteria everyday is that you’ll likely end up grabbing the delicious things that aren’t so great for your waist. When you can’t cook your own meals, you give up the ability to monitor what goes into your food, and then you don’t even realize what you’re eating. Skip the steaming pizza, and go for a salad a few times a week. Since you have a limited ability to store food in your dorm, it can be easy to grab frozen pizza rolls, and chips. Try grabbing some apples and granola bars to balance out the unhealthy snacks. There are plenty of healthy alternatives to your favorite foods so look for those instead. I promise you’ll be glad you did when your favorite pair of jeans still fit at the end of the year.
6. Establish your limits.
Living with another human being within such a small space is challenging. You have to work to make the situation pleasing and enjoyable for everyone. After you move in, you and your roommate need to sit down to establish rules for your shared space. It’s a good idea to establish rules for borrowing and sharing items, having company in your room, and quiet hours when you want to either study or go to sleep. You should both agree to follow these rules, and don’t be afraid to speak up if your roommate ignores them.
7. Make friends with other residents.
Since you already share a teeny tiny room with another person, it’s a good idea to meet some other people in your dorm so you don’t become irritated spending all of your time with your roommate. Make friends with the other students in the building, plan group trips to the cafeteria or to the movies, and join people in whatever activities they’re doing outside of the dorm. Meeting other residents will make your dorm life much more enjoyable and social.
8. RAs are friends, not police.
The resident assistants are there to make sure the dorm is a pleasant place to live, but they’re also there to help you adjust to college and navigate the university. Establish a cordial relationship with your RA and the other RAs in the building. This will make you feel more comfortable asking them for assistance with anything, and it never hurts to be on the good side of the RAs. They’re much more likely to ignore that dorm party you’re having if they like you.
9. Take care of your things.
Yes, the dorm is technically your home, but it’s also the home of several other students that you don’t even know. Even if no one in your dorm would take your things, there’s a good chance that someone visiting another resident will. Don’t leave your room unlocked and unsupervised, and don’t set something valuable out in the open. Not even if you’re coming right back. This also applies to your laundry. Leaving your laundry unattended gives others an opportunity swipe a nice piece of clothing from you.
10. Take out the trash.
You’re on your own now, and you already know that your room is small. Don’t leave your trash sitting in your room for days at a time. It doesn’t take long for a small space to become overwhelmed with the reek of trash. Frequently empty your trashcan. Your roommate and the entire dorm will thank you.