As you embark on the wonderful journey involving living in a tiny room with thin walls and sharing a bathroom with 20 other people, you should know that there are thousands of other freshman living under the same conditions as you. For eight months, you’ll unwillingly eavesdrop on neighbors and potentially catch a weird sickness from the mold on the walls in your lovely community style dorm. Scared yet? Don’t be; CM found 10 helpful tips from people who somehow survived the nightmare.
1. Double Check Your Shower Caddy
“Always wear flip flops in the shower unless you want to die,” Florida State University junior Rebecca Kessler said. Community style showers foster nightmares with long strands of hair left on the walls, used tampons carelessly left on the floors and a suffocating cloud of Axe surrounding the boys’ bathroom. What’s even scarier? Forgetting your towel, then having no choice but to run naked down the hall while the hottest guy in the entire building sees your bare ass.
2. Go Full Adult and Buy a Microwave
Forget cooking in the worn out kitchen in your dorm. Instead of relying on a stove from the 1970s, buy a microwave so you can heat up Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac. “Oh and please DO NOT forget to add water to your Easy Mac,” said FSU junior Caroline Grandchamp. You don’t want to be the freshman who sets off the smoke alarm from a mishap. Pro Tip: Avoid the “freshman 15” by cooking healthier options like veggie burgers in the microwave.
3. Value Clean Underwear Over Sour Cream and Onion Lays
After avoiding the smelly pile in your closet for two weeks, the only reason you’re doing laundry is because you’re out of underwear. FSU junior Sherron Fontes said, “Don’t spend all your laundry money on vending machines.” When you realize your last five dollars went to a late night munchie craving, you’ll regret falling into temptation when the only option left is to go commando. Pro Tip: Don’t attempt laundry on Sunday nights. It’s worse than trying to get the last iPhone on Black Friday.
4. Get Used to Oreo Thins for Walls
If you’re still mad about the rager your neighbors threw the night before your midterm, take a walk around campus rather than trash talk them in your room because the walls have ears. “They will hear you and things could be awkward for the rest of the year, like one time I called the girls next to me cows,” said FSU junior Kelsey Lewis. Keep in mind that same rule applies for dorm hookups. The guy next door probably heard you and might be studying for an exam he has in six hours. Please be mindful of the people around you.
5. Avoid a Passive Aggressive Sticky Note Relationship
She likes the room colder than the tundra while you’re freezing into an icicle. She wakes up for 8 a.m. classes and you sleep until noon. Instead of cursing at your roomie under your breath, discuss each other’s habits and compromise. If you don’t tell her it bothers you when she turns the lights on while you’re napping, then good luck trying to nap the rest of the year. Don’t take your passive aggressiveness to the Twitter world by subtweeting her, but if you do, make your account private. Otherwise, your roommate will probably see your tweets and the next seven months will be a tension saga.
6. Establish an Open Door Policy
If you leave the door open, then friends will come. FSU junior Michelle Marchand left her door open hoping that someone would come in. One day, Grandchamp did and the two ended up exchanging numbers. Grandchamp said, “I drunk texted Michelle a couple of days later on Halloween and she answered me back somewhat worried, and we have been friends ever since.”
7. Just Smile and Knock, Freshmen
The easiest way to make friends is by knocking on your hall mates’ doors. “I met my best friend by knocking on her door and asking if she was Jewish because she had a Mezuzah on her wall. When she opened the door and I told her I was also Jewish, we ended up going out to a bar that night and we are still friends to this day,” said Kessler. If you’re in dire need of a nap, however, lock your door. People in community style dorms tend to think they own the entire building and enter the room uninvited to tell you about the party next door.
8. Remember you’re All (Stuck) in This Together
If you’re sitting alone in your dorm and hear a party next door, go join the fun. Best case scenario, you’ll mesh well with people and form a friend group. Partying in a small bedroom forces you to engage in conversation and put yourself out there. Just don’t be a sloppy mess and hold yourself together because you’ll see these people again…most likely in the elevator, wearing only a towel. Aside from parties, attend building socials. You might find out that there are another 50 people who obsess over How To Get Away with Murder more than you.
9. Befriend the Roomie’s Friends
If you’re fortunate enough to live with a person who already has a bunch of friends, you’ll have instant (Facebook) friends. Fontes said, “I had the world’s worst roommate. I latched onto her friends as a way to make friends and ended up replacing that girl in the friend group. Since I was friendly, I was able to make my friends, which I now consider the best squad in town.” Don’t be upset when your roommate doesn’t become your best friend because you can still win the friendship lottery and slide into her friends’ DMs.
10. Beware of the Fire Alarm
PSA: The fire alarm can go off at any time, whether you’re sleeping, in the shower or making out with someone. The fire alarm sounds if there’s an actual fire, a drunk person plays a prank or a girl seriously burns her toast. If you hear the fire alarm ring and you’re showering, please remember to walk out with a towel and shoes. FSU junior Maggie Bibb said, “Make sure to change out of your whale nighties before exiting the building.” You never know who’s going to be there or how long you’ll be stuck outside.
Whether your community dorm horror story involves cat fights with neighbors, setting off the fire alarm, uncomfortably listening to neighbors hook up or something even worse, remember that dorm life is only temporary and you will survive.