Dorm Life 101: Advice From Someone Who’s Been There

by Tim Pate

Hello freshmen, and welcome to Colorado State University! Everybody at the College of Business looks forward to meeting each of you, and I hope that you are making the transition without any snags. As I get ready to begin my senior year at CSU, I start to reflect on my experience these past three years. When I arrived at CSU, I felt reasonably comfortable as I made the switch to college life; but there is one thing about which I wish I had had more comprehensive information at the beginning: life in the dorms.

Don’t let that first paragraph scare you – dorm life was not a terrible experience and some of my best friends now I met in those halls. However, some parts of dorm life did catch me by surprise (in good ways and bad), so I have taken it upon myself to try to minimalize the shock you might experience in your first year. The following items are pieces of advice I wish upperclassmen had given to me before I started living in the dorms.

Your roommate will get on your nerves (and you will get on your roommate’s nerves).

If you’ve ever shared close quarters with anyone for an extended period of time, you know why the above statement is true. In such close proximity, it is impossible to ignore another person’s flaws (especially if this person was randomly selected to live with you for nine months). Maybe your roommate’s possessions have an annoying habit of overflowing onto your side of the room. Maybe your roommate enjoys traipsing noisily into your room at 4:00 in the morning. Maybe your roommate just does something in complete innocence that drives you up a wall. Seriously, there is no avoiding it. The best way to handle this situation is to be open and honest with your roommate about any issues that arise, and to find somewhere outside of your room where you can go to find solace if you need it.

Relish your proximity to campus amenities – you might miss it next year.

I definitely took for granted how close I was to the best areas of campus when I was a freshman. I was within a five-minute walk of the library, the Rec Center, Moby Arena, and the Lory Student Center. A year later it was a 10-minute bus ride. The year after that it was 20. We have an incredible student recreation center (complete with a pool, rock-climbing wall, and two levels of exercise equipment), and I love doing my work on campus in Rockwell Hall-West or the Behavioral Sciences building. I would have frequented those places much more often had I known that simply getting there would be a hassle in the years to come.

Weird things happen in the dorms. Ignore them, and move on.

Dormitories are like ant farms: They consist of tons of people who do not know each other thrown together and left to fend for themselves. With this newfound freedom, some people go absolutely wild. You haven’t the slightest bit of control over how other people act, so don’t try to exert unattainable power. Nor are you committed to being friends with everyone in your hall; there’s nothing wrong with being selective.

Dorm food gets old.

Really old. You eat it every day. However, you can add variance to keep things a little bit fresher. There are multiple dining halls located all over campus, and with your meal plan you have access to all of them. My personal favorites are Ram’s Horn at Academic Village (try the pizza and burgers downstairs or the Mongolian grill upstairs) and Braiden (best handmade sandwiches and late-night shakes on campus). Another tip is to limit how much you eat each meal. Just because each meal swipe earns you unlimited food doesn’t mean that you have to eat until you’re sick. Have a reasonable meal each time and try something new but proportional the next day. You’ll keep an appetite for dorm food for longer, and you’ll curb that “freshman 15.”

Like I said, you might make some of your best friends in the dorms.

Meeting new people is one of the most fulfilling aspects of college. Branch out and introduce yourself to people in your hall, on your floor, in your building. Engage in the cheesy hall activities that your Resident Assistant promotes. You’ll discover lots of interesting people of diverse backgrounds who will genuinely amplify your college experience. Being in a new place and a new atmosphere can be slightly intimidating, but the adventure is made all the more enjoyable when you and some new friends can laugh about it together.

Upperclassmen: Do you have any pieces of advice you wished had been shared with you when you entered college? Feel free to leave your gems of wisdom in the comments below!

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One thought on “Dorm Life 101: Advice From Someone Who’s Been There

  1. It’s been a long time since I was a freshmen (My 40th HS reunion is this September.) but I am still friends with 3 women I met on my freshmen hall. We’ve celebrated weddings, a baby, promotions, graduate school, new houses (and all their problems) and new cities, and divorces in those 40 years. We’ve supported each other in good times and in not so good times. Enjoy your freshmen year and know that one of those people you see moving in may be around helping you when you’re nearer to 60 than to 20!

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