Freshman year of college is a time of firsts and adjustments. But going into it, I was unaware of just how much adjusting I would have to do. Living on a floor with at least 60 other girls can be overwhelming, but can also be the best time of your life. Being constantly surrounded by so many people in such a small space can teach you a lot. Here are some of the lessons I learned from living in my freshman residence hall.
1. Leave your doors open at all times
During the first few weeks of school, everyone wanders down the halls of residence halls to meet the people living around them (or they wander because they haven't memorized the halls yet and get lost often). This is one of the best opportunities you'll have to meet your neighbors. Some people even have a bowl of treats for those who wander in through their open doors—these are the kinds of people you'll want to be friends with.
2. Obey quiet hours
I've learned the hard way that quiet hours are strictly enforced in most halls. Whether it's a 24 hour quiet zone that you live in or a hall that has standard 10 p.m.-7 a.m. quiet hours, know that the RAs mean business.
3. Don't be afraid of communal bathrooms
Don't be afraid of the communal bathroom situation, embrace it. Although the thought of 60 people all sharing one bathroom may seem intimidating, it really isn't that bad. And don't be ashamed to play music while you're showering. Everyone else in the bathroom will greatly appreciate it. There's nothing worse than a music-less shower.
4. Always wear shower shoes when in the bathroom
With that being said, there is one thing you should be afraid of in the bathrooms—the floors. Always, I repeat always, wear shoes when in the bathroom. Don't be that one person who goes in barefoot.
5. Take advantage of the floor lounge
The lounge is a magical place where everyone gathers to freak out about homework, while simultaneously hanging out with their friends. It's one of the best places to study and socialize because you can help each other with work while being in a social environment. Doing homework without getting FOMO = win-win.
6. Learn the floor's showering schedule
There is nothing more disappointing than walking all the way down the hall to the bathroom in your towel just to find that all of the showers are being used. This happened to me pretty frequently in my first week living in my residence hall, until I figured out the times in each day that there would be available shower stalls. This will be one of the most important things you'll learn in order to be on time to class.
7. Get off campus as often as possible
Whether you're going on a trip for the weekend or just getting a quick meal off campus, getting out is essential to your sanity. Staying in your hall for too long can make you stir-crazy. It's important to get off campus every once in while to remind yourself that there is a world outside of school.
8. Make your room homey, but don't go overboard on decorations
Decorating your dorm is important in order to make it feel homey and comfortable, but having too much stuff will make the small space seem very cluttered and overwhelming. Putting pictures and string lights up is a good idea, but limit the amount of furniture and knick knacks you bring to college. When you're only living in a room for a year, there isn't much point in spending too much money on things to fill it.
9. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions in your room
In an old residence hall, 75 degree weather will feel like 100 degrees and 50 degree weather will feel like you're living in Antarctica. Most halls don't have air conditioning and the heating is limited. Fans and heavy blankets will be life savers.
10. Always have a spare toothbrush in your room
I can't even count the number of times I had to throw my toothbrush out because I dropped it on the floor in the bathroom. It's never worth the risk to use it once it's touched the floor, so always have an extra toothbrush handy. Trust me, this is essential for your dental hygiene.
11. You will become extremely close to your floormates
You'll spend just about every day with your floormates for a year, which will cause you to get to know them very well. You'll be excited, homesick and stressed out together, which will cause you to form an inseparable bond with many of them. You'll end up knowing everything about each other and making some of the best friends you ever had.