The transition from home life to dorm life varies from person to person. Some embrace the change while others take more time to adjust. Especially for those who are studying in a different state or abroad in a different country, this time period can be quite difficult. Personally, college was a great change in my life because I was able to meet many new people and have the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco. While homesickness is an entire topic of itself that I will not be primarily focusing on today, here are helpful advice on transitioning from home life to dorm life. For example, our parents are no longer there to do simple tasks such as laundry and cleaning for us. Those who have their own room at home now have to share a room and bathroom with others. While it may seem that your entire lifestyle will change, this is a big step towards becoming more independent and self-aware of yourself and others. Here are some helpful tips for those of you who are dorming for the first time:
Set a Daily/Nightly Routine
Naturally, our bodies love routines. When our routine gets disrupted or changed, we need time to adjust. During your first weeks of dorming, I recommend creating a daily morning and night routine. The routine can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Whether your morning routine involves only brushing your teeth and washing your face or an entire 12 step process, routines vary from person to person. By establishing a routine, it will create some familiarity that will help you adjust to dorm living. It is understandable to feel uncomfortable living in a build full of strangers. Creating some familiarity in your new environment will help you feel more at ease.
“Communal Bathrooms” is one of the most uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing word out there. Having to share what normally is a private space with a floor of other strangers leads to an uncountable amount of fears and awkwardness. While not all dorms have communal bathrooms, for example, some rooms share a bathroom only with a conjoined room rather than with an entire floor, it is a common struggle for most dorming students.
During my first year of college, I lived in a dorm with communal bathrooms. Before moving in, I had a very negative perspective of how my living situation would be, especially because my dorm room was located right beside the bathrooms. However, I developed some tips and helpful advice that eased a lot of the tension I once had.
At home, I had my own room and bathroom. In college, communal bathrooms are often crowded during certain time periods. Because I lived so close to the bathroom, I started to notice when the bathrooms were crowded and when they were not. For example, lots of people like to shower in the morning (between 8-9:30 am), evening (7-8 pm) and very early in the morning (1-2 am). Because of this, I learned to shower in the early afternoons. Compare this to rush hour traffic. If you want to beat the rush hour, you either leave earlier or later in order to experience the least amount of traffic. As a result, I normally have the entire bathroom to myself on a daily basis.
#2 Shower Caddy
While I was fortunate to live so close to the bathroom, many of you will live on the opposite side of where your bathrooms will be located. While the bathroom is still a short walk away, it can be quite annoying if you forget something in your room and have to walk all the way back to get it. I recommend using a shower caddy to place all your necessary items in one place.
I recommend using a 2-in-1 shower caddy like the example above. This is handy because it has a smaller caddy that can be used separately. I have a similar caddy where I use the larger portion to hold my shower items. I separated the smaller caddy and use that to carry my smaller morning and night items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, etc. By using a caddy, I have all my necessary items in one place that can be easily transported to and from the bathroom
The big question that all communal bathrooms raise is the idea of privacy. Everyone has their own definition and expectations when it comes to having their own personal space. When living with a bunch of other people, TMI moments will inevitably happen. What we can control is how we’ll react in these moments. If someone runs out of toilet paper in the bathroom, be the person to help them out. If the automatic lights in the showers turn off while someone is showering, do a quick run in the shower area so that person won’t have to streak across the bathroom to turn them back on. If there’s someone waiting to wash his or her hands and you’re currently brushing your teeth, stand aside to let them use the sink because you aren’t currently using it. Simple gestures of kindness and consideration help create a more efficient and friendly environment. Many people are afraid of communal bathrooms not because they think they’re unclean or inconvenient, it is because they are afraid to share their “private space” with others. Once we overcome this idea by working together to create a more open environment, communal-style living, not just communal bathrooms, does not seems so scary anymore.
Another obstacle for new college students is laundry. Without mom and dad, students are now faced with the task of having to do their own laundry. What actually is a very simple task seems very daunting and time-consuming at first. While I am not going to teach you how to do your laundry (since it’s really easy and I know you’ll forget about this post and look it up on YouTube later on), here are some tips to simplify the process.
Special Laundry Baskets
I cannot recommend enough the benefits of using special laundry baskets such as the ones above. In my Top 10 Essential Dorm Items post, I go more into detail about the benefits of these two baskets. Investing in these types of baskets allows you to carry more clothes in a more efficient and easier way.
Pods are a lot more compact and lighter than traditional liquid laundry detergent. All you have to do is drop a pod inside a washer machine with all your dirty laundry. DO NOT CUT OPEN THE POD. The pod will burst and mix in with your laundry after you start the washer.
Time your laundry and dryer cycle!
It is easy to think that laundry is a waste of time. It takes on average one and a half hours to go through one washer and dryer cycle, and that is if you are able to find an open dryer right after the end of your washing cycle. In order to be more productive and efficient, set a timer for when your washer/dryer will be done. While this is as simple as it sounds, many people forget about their laundry. I highly stress using a timer also because I have noticed that if the laundry room is very crowded, people often resort to taking clean laundry that has been there for too long out of the machines. While no one has stolen any clothes, I wouldn’t want my clothes taken out without my permission. In order to avoid any mishaps, set a timer so you can get your clothes out in a timely manner.
It is easy to forget to clean your dorm room every so often. Dorm rooms are actually easy to clean and require little equipment. After you have picked up any clothing and thrown away old food, all you have left to do is these three tasks:
Dusting off your desk and other furniture is essential for those who suffer from allergies (such as I). I recommend using a Swiffer Duster to pick up dust. These dusters should come with a handle to make cleaning easier. If you accidently buy only the duster itself (without the handle), you can easily use the duster pad by itself. If you feel being creative, I replaced the handle with two chopsticks and that worked perfectly fine.
“Disinfect to Protect”
As cliche as this sounds, it is true. After dusting, I wipe down everything in my room with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. These come in a variety of scents and help to also clean some light stains on surfaces. I also like to think that I am disinfecting the room itself. In dorms, sickness spreads like a wildfire. I like to believe that sanitizing my room creates a barrier against germs and sickness. Honestly, doing this puts me mentally at ease, until allergy season starts.
As mentioned in my Top 10 Essential Dorm Items post, vacuums are very useful. It can pick up food, hair, eraser leftovers, and more. You’ll be amazed how much stuff can accumulate on your dorm room floor. It can also pick up any leftover dust and anything else that you dusted or wiped off your desk onto the floor.
And those are my tips on transitioning from home life to dorm life!
The transition from home to dorm life is different for everyone, yet we all face the same new obstacles and tasks that come with dorm living. I hope that these tips will help you adjust to dorm life and feel free to share your tips in the comments below. I wish you the best of luck!