I’m currently sitting in my first apartment. School starts Monday, and I moved in Friday (at 4 in the morning, but that’s irrelevant). I’m a junior, and the last two years I lived in the dorms. I like to think that I picked up a few tips on how to successfully move on campus, whether you’re returning or going for the first time.
I’ll be focusing on living on the dorms for the most part, the traditional ones where you share your room with a roommate and share a bathroom with the whole floor.
Here are things you NEED to bring to school:
- A shower caddy. Seriously. Unless you’re a guy who needs nothing more than an all-in-one shampoo/conditioner/body wash, get something to carry your shower things to the bathroom. Girls, you may also want to take a towel and sew some velcro to the inside edges so that you don’t have to worry about flashing people in the hall (or just buy one). Also, remember to always take your keys to the shower. I have had to run looking for RA’s for people who were stranded outside with only a towel at least five times.
- Something for stomach aches. Whatever you use, bring it in bulk. You’ll be eating shitty take out food, shitty dining hall food, and shitty food you make in your little microwave. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like taking medicines of any kind, stop being pretentious and buy tums anyways. Tylenol or ibuprofen are also advised.
- Comfy bedding. Unless you like hard mattresses and sleepless nights, you might want to invest in a mattress pad. Of course, you can always wait and buy one after you sleep on it a bit to see how uncomfortable you really find it, but if you’re going to be cut off from Walmarts without begging for a ride, it’s only like $10 or so. Remember that your bed is about 40% of your half of the room, so it’s important that you like being in it.
- Sleeping aids! And by that, I mean earplugs and a sleeping mask. Of course, if you are a heavy sleeper you might not need this, but after three semesters with roommates’ whose snoring was as loud as someone screaming (Seriously, screaming. I could hear them snoring when I went out into the hall) I would suggest buying the heaviest duty earplugs you can find.
- Quarters for laundry. I forget this every year.
- Condoms. Now, I guess this one is optional, but if you’re planning on having sex at all you should have condoms. Even if you just think “Oh, well, if I meet a nice girl I might have sex with her” BUY CONDOMS. You can get the smallest pack they have if you want, but always be prepared. Most schools will give away free condoms for multiple events, but however you get them you should have condoms ready (guys AND girls). The only one exempt from this rule is lesbians. You girls can just bring a bag of dental dams and a 4 foot dildo (alright, 4 foot dildo is optional).
Here are some tips related to packing:
- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT BRING A MILLION TINY BOXES OR BAGS. Try to pack everything into four or five big crates, max. You don’t want to be trying to juggle things as you bring them in, and you don’t want the movers to see your underwear bag. The elevators in the dorms can break or get way backed up, and you don’t want to take 6 billion trips up the stairs. Also, remember that you don’t need to bring ALL your clothes (*cough* girls *cough*). You will never have time to wear them all or the quarters to wash them all.
- When packing clothes, do so economically. I roll all my clothes and have for years. It has allowed me shove an astonishing amount of clothes into the tiny dorm dressers. It looks like this, but you can do it differently if you have a method you enjoy.
Here are some tips related to roommates:
- Contact your roommate before you move in. SERIOUSLY. DO NOT BE THE DICK THAT DOESN’T RETURN PHONE CALLS OR EMAILS. If you ignore your roommate before you move in, not only are you making a terrible first impression, but you’re being an asshole. There is legitimate reason for roommates to contact each other. You need to talk about things like who will bring the TV, the fridge, and the microwave. There are guys every year who end up with two fridges because they don’t contact each other. Seriously guys, why? Why are you so anti-social? I know you Facebook stalked that one girl you saw at your sister-in-law’s friend’s pool party, so you can manage to find your roommate and shoot them a message.
- If it’s obviously that it’s not going to work with your roommate, don’t be afraid to ask for a new room before you get settled in. I was living with a girl who seemed nice when we had talked over the summer, but once I moved in with her she was a terror. She demanded that I tell her every single time I had anyone over to the room and that I could only have visitors between 3 pm and 10 pm, and that my boyfriend could only come over between 5 pm and 8 pm. I told her I didn’t like this agreement, but she demanded that this be the way we did things. A little crazy, but I figured she was just nervous because she was a freshman. Only, after diligently reporting to her about when I was having my boyfriend over, I heard her loudly complaining that I was a freak because I ALWAYS text her when my boyfriend comes over, like she would care. I immediately asked the RD if I could switch. Most schools have an open policy so that people aren’t stuck with horrible roommates. Don’t prolong your suffering because you think you can make it work. If you wait for too long, you won’t be able to switch.
- However…. don’t be the bad roommate. Don’t touch your roommate’s stuff or take out unrelated frustration on them. Don’t eat their food without asking and if you’re sweeping up your side of the room, go ahead and sweep theirs too (assuming there’s not going to be anything important you’d risk ruining). Offer to take out their trash when you’re taking yours and make an effort to get to know them. I know that a lot of freshmen don’t end up being good friends with their roommates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be decent to them so that the year doesn’t end with you two spitting at each other’s feet.
Here are some tips for general campus life:
- Talk to people! You’re not going to make friends if you lock yourself up in your room. Talk to people in class, talk to people in your hall, talk to random people on the streets. Go to dorm activities and join clubs. If you don’t want to talk to people, that’s fine. Introverts are the best kind of neighbors! I would still advise joining a club or two. If you don’t, people will still talk to you. They’ll come from nowhere. Be prepared.
- That being said, don’t talk too much. Remember that you’re here to study! College is about your education, not your partying skills. Don’t flunk out because of binge drinking, or I will judge you. Your mother will judge you. Ash Ketchum will judge you. If you want to party, you don’t have to go to college for that. Study (and not just the night before the exam), take notes, and ask questions. This is not high school. You can’t just skim by (unless you’re really smart, like I am, but beware: everyone will hate you for each A you get).
- BUY THE TEXTBOOKS. Not from the campus bookstore, of course, but don’t get the guy who thinks that it’s impressive to skim by with a C- without the textbook. You don’t want to end your first semester with a 2.0 GPA. I know the books are expensive, but all of college is. Get a job, take out loans, whatever. None of it will be worth the money if you fail out. Rent or buy used textbooks, and get international editions or oldest editions whenever you can. For Gen Ed classes you don’t usually need a textbook, but some you do. Wait until class starts to buy anything, as some professors will explain that tests will come directly from the book while others will mainly use notes and make the book just a backup reference.
- Finally, take advantage of all that money you’re spending. Go to the free activities. Take all the free food. See the free movies and enter to win the free t-shirts.
I hope this helps! Have a fun school year!