There are some challenges incoming college freshman must undergo to initiate themselves into university life. They must learn the customs of their university, stay on top of their classes, make friends with the people around them, and find activities and clubs to join. However, the ultimate freshman experience seems to be living in the dorms. Here at UNC Wilmington, students have a love/hate relationship with their on-campus living situations, and The Seahawk is here with a few tips and tricks so they have one less thing to stress about.
1. Leave your door open and hang out in the common room.
Many of the dorms on campus have what is called an “open door policy” to signal to others that visiting is welcome. Doing this invites people to stop and talk to you without you having to venture out. Most likely people will stop and chat, and this is a great way to make acquaintances. After that, make sure to hang out in your common room with the people on your hall, even if you just hang out watching TV or doing homework. Do not expect to become best friends with your hall mates immediately, but small efforts will gain close friends.
2. Expect noise in the dorms and understand privacy is hard to come by.
While making friends with your dorm mates is great, there are some times where you have things to get done or want some alone time and find that that is hard to get in a dorm. Even if you stay in your room, your roommate also lives there too and has just as much right to be in the space. Try to find a space on campus that you feel you can be alone or talk with your roommate about certain times you would like the room to yourself for a couple of hours. Because there are many people living in close proximity, there will most likely always be some sort of noise in the hallway and that is just something to get use to. If that bothers you, invest in some noise canceling headphones or earplugs for when you are trying to sleep.
3. Do not try to study in your dorm.
For some of the reasons listed above, studying or working in a dorm is difficult for some people. While each person has what works for them, many people find they are more productive when they work in the library, a coffee shop, or a similar place.
4. Communicate with your roommate.
Roommate complaints are to be expected when two people are living in a small box together, often having just met. Even if you are best friends with your roommate, there will still be things that get on your nerves. Whatever relationship you have, it is important to communicate your concerns or needs from the beginning and address problems when they arise. This will most likely save you from some big blowout fights or internalized grudges that only make dorm living worse.
5. Wear your shower shoes. Just do it.
Everyone has heard people say this, but it is an important part of dorm life. No matter how clean you think your dorm shower is, it is probably dirtier than you think, so wearing shower shoes to protect your feet from germs is a must. It only takes one bout of foot fungus to make this message clear but take precautions beforehand so you can avoid it.
6. Invest in disinfectant wipes, a duster, dish soap and other cleaning supplies.
While the dorm is a small space, it still accumulates dust, dirt and other messes, so make sure you have some basic cleaning supplies on hand. Take time to dust and wipe down hard surfaces occasionally to fight germs, and have some dish soap to clean out bowls, plates, water bottles or other things.
7. Get an air purifier and take your vitamins.
While discussing cleanliness, it is important to keep yourself healthy, especially in a place where you live so close to other people. An air purifier is a good investment to keep the air in your room clean and stop some of the airborne illnesses from spreading, like colds or the flu. It is also beneficial to take certain vitamins or a multivitamin to boost your immune system to give yourself certain nutrients you might be missing in your diet.
8. Invest in some dorm snacks.
As a first-year student, you are required to purchase a meal plan which will comprise the bulk of your meals. However, it is good to have snacks in your dorm for times when the restaurants and dining halls are closed or you need a quick pick-me-up. Also, it is a good idea to take some fruit with you when you leave the dining halls for healthy late-night snacks.
9. Simple dorm organizing makes a huge difference.
Keeping your dorm organized will help alleviate stress on you and your roommate, but it does not have to be an elaborate system. Simple organization like making your bed, folding your clothes and putting them away, and keeping your desk clear make a big difference in a small space and they do not take a lot of time or effort. Try to do these things every day to improve your dorm experience.
10. Get chargers with long cords.
This tip is very helpful for when you want to lay in bed on your phone or your laptop cord just does not quite reach your computer. Get long charging cords when possible, or get accessories, like desk lamps, with built-in USB ports.
11. Do not wait until Sunday night to do your laundry.
Laundry is a tedious task, but it becomes even more frustrating when you wait until the last minute to do it and there are no washers or dryers available. Everyone in the dorm always waits until Sunday night to do their laundry for the upcoming week, so try to do yours on a weekday where you have some free time instead. Also, think about investing in a stain stick to get small stains out of clothes easily, and do not forget to wash your sheets every two weeks.
12. Do not be afraid to file a maintenance request and/or talk to RA if something is wrong.
If you have any problems at all in the dorm, from roommate disagreements to your room being too cold/hot, talk to your RA about it because that is what they are there for. Do not be afraid to raise your concerns because they are there to help you. In the case of maintenance problems, do not be afraid to file a maintenance request because the problem most likely will not fix itself. The Housing and Residence staff on campus is there to make your dorm experience the best it can be.