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Phantom_Girl Offline
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Adapting to dorming - June 9th 2015, 03:08 AM

In the fall I'm going to college and I'll be dorming. I was always okay with the idea before but I graduated yesterday and now all the anxiety just kinda hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized as I was trying to sleep last night that I'm moving away from my home, my room, my family, my everything. I've never moved before and hardly ever slept over friends houses. However when I did sleep over, I always got wicked homesick. Now, I'm not sure how I'll adjust to dorming. Going to college is overwhelming but so is moving and now I'm facing both combined. I have so many fears/worries/questions and I don't know what to do. I don't want to get roomed with a freak, I'm not sure how the bathrooms work (I think they're communal so that freaks me out), I don't know what to do about food/money/etc, I've never lived on my own so I don't know how to do pretty much anything on my own, traveling scares me, and so much more.

Any dormers here who could help me out or put me at ease?


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Re: Adapting to dorming - June 9th 2015, 03:41 AM


I am entering my sophomore year of college, meaning that I completed my first year of dorming recently, so I hope that I can be of some help to you.

I know that when I first moved in, I felt lonely and scared because I didn't really know anyone that was there. Quite honestly, the thing I most recommend to you is to get involved on campus. Go to events your residence hall or school has. Join clubs and social groups. Not only do you make friends this way, but it also gives you things to do to fill up free space so you're not in your dorm all the time. Joining clubs helped me a lot because I started to get to know people and felt less alone.

I don't know how your school works, but my school makes you purchase a meal plan if you are living on campus. That may be something you should check into, if your school offers meal plans. My financial aid covered mine and maybe yours will too. My meal plan is good because I get unlimited swipes into the dining hall, as well as meal exchanges and a declining balance I can use in the student center or the little "convenience" area in one of the academic buildings. If yours has something similar, it may help. You may also want to look into what accommodations your dorm has. I know that my dorm had a kitchen the entire floor shared, but for the upperclassmen, a lot of them got kitchens right in their own area. We were also supplied a mini fridge and microwave for our rooms, but not all dorms do that, so you may want to look into that situation. Once you find out what the situation in your building is as far as kitchens, fridges, or microwaves, you may want to stock up on non-perishable goods or things you'll know you'll be able to eat.

You may also want to see if your campus offers student employment. It might be a good way to save up some money. I'd also save up change and put some money into a "rainy day fund" so you have at least something for emergencies. If your campus is in a safe neighborhood you can also see if anywhere in walking distance is hiring.

Travelling to and from places is where I'm not able to give advice. I tried to take the bus to get to the pharmacy and ended up getting lost and having to walk two miles, erp. I mainly rely on friends with cars and give them gas money, but maybe someone on campus is more knowledgeable about public transit than I am. Some schools even offer bus passes for students.

I recommend wearing flip flops in the showers. Other people are using them too, so you don't want to risk getting athlete's foot.

It is definitely scary at first. It's a new experience! But you definitely do get used to it, and I bet you'll love it! If there are any other aspects of dorm life you want to know about, feel free to ask.

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Re: Adapting to dorming - June 9th 2015, 09:48 AM

Hi Phantom_Girl!

I completely understand your anxiety about moving into dorms. You don't know what to expect, and you don't even have anything to wrap your head around. Your whole life is taking a new turn, and that's stressful for anyone.

I'll try and tell you about my dorm experience.

I gave you a lot of advice. Think of at as your own personal guide. Take it one step at a time, maybe one heading at a time. The last thing I want to do is stress you out and give you information overload.

This post is waay long (it looks like an article ) and I'm too tired to think of anything else right now. I'm sorry, mods for making this long post, and for the fact that it looks like an article. I just didn't know how else to organize it other than with headings.

The Dorm Itself

In terms of where you live, a lot of places have separate floors for boys and girls (my university even had an all-girls dorm, in addition to the other ones).

You might have to swipe your card to get in to the dorm, as many dorms keep their doors locked and you swipe your key to unlock it. Most dorms have a doorbell though for visitors or in case you forget your ID. When we came in we had to show our key.

In terms of furniture, most dorm rooms come with a bed and a desk and chair. They also come with a closet, which in my dorm was was basically a space in te wall with doors outside it. Some dorms allow you to loft your bed (raise it up so there's space under it). This is a really nice option. Not all dorms do this though.

The dorm I was at had a microwave and sink in the laundry room. I think this is pretty standard. Most dorms have a shared microwave, and don't let you have one in your room.

Dorms usually have either carpet or wood floors. What type of floor you have determines how you should clean it. Either way, the dorm's vacuum and 409 and paper towels should fix most stains and stuff.

In terms of storing things, go for a bunch of small-to-medium separate bins. You do't want one big bin or everything will get crammed together and squashed and you'll never be able to find anything (I know this from experience). Also, if you can find them, bins with wheels are extra nice for moving around.

Once you're moved in, you may want to buy some posters to make you feel more at home. I recommend not bringing them from home, as posters are fragile and when they get wrinkled they get weird white lines where they crease, like this:


Most dorm walls are painted cinderblock, so the best thing to use to put up posters is poster tack/white tack/blu tack, which works on both cinderblock and drywall. If you've never used it before, it's kind of like rubbery clay that sticks to both the poster and the wall, but can peel off.

In my dorm some of the girls would hang christmas lights on the walls, though not all dorms allow this. In our dorm, we had the same kind of ceiling tiles they do in public schools, so a lot of girls would hang up paper decorations by attaching them to strings and lifting the tiles up and sticking the ends of strings under them, sometimes attaching the string to a paperclip and putting the paperclip under the tile. Some girls would just tape the strings with scotch tape. But some dorms don't have those kinds of ceilings, and some dorms don't let you hang things from ceilings at all.

RAs, the RD, and Rules

Your RA is the person in charge of the floor you live on. She will often have "programs" or to entertain the students on your floor and help them get to know each other better. Stuff like movie night or karaeoke night or decorationg cupcakes. She lives on the floor and enforces the rules, helps resolve conflicts, and also helps you when you need stuff and don't know where to go. If you ever have problems with your RA, or the other staff, your Resident Director (RD) will be there to help. Your RD is the one in charge of the whole building.

One thing you should know is that dorm rules are not necessarily absolute. Some of them may of them depend on how strict your Resident Advisor (RA) is about enforcing them. You should always make sure the rules are followed whenever they do room checks though, evn if your RA is lax.

Your dorm will have assigned "quiet hours." If someone in your building, who is not your roommate, is making noise, there are administrators you can go to to complain. How exactly this system works varies by college, so I can't give you a detailed explanation, sorry.


In terms of meal plans, my meal plan was almost exactly like *~Sparkly Queer~*'s. My little brother, on the other hand, had more of a meal card/voucher with a declining balance. Each type of food cost a different amount, and he had to balance his budget with his nutrition for the semester. So that's also a possibility.


In terms of communal bathrooms, just think of it as similar to bathrooms at the gym or the pool. The communal bathrooms are pretty much like that except a little smaller-scale. So you've used such things before, just not on a regular basis. Also, like in other places, the communal bathrooms will have a janitor to clean them, unless you live in a "commons" style building, in which case the bathroom is pretty much like the bathroom you have at home, and cleaning it is the shared responsibility of you and your roommates.

Also, if we had a boy over, and he had to use the bathroom, we were supposed to check to make sure no one was in the bathroom, and then wait there til he got out, and if anyone tried to go in while he was in there, we were supposed to tell them there was a guy in the bathroom. Not all colleges have this rule though, and not all RAs enforce it.


One of the things *~Sparkly Queer~* didn't cover is laundry. In my dorm we shared a washer and dryer. In most dorms , laundry is pretty much just a first-come, first-serve basis. Though in some dorms it isn't. For example, in my dorm, our RA had a schedule up and people could sign up for slots smaller than a 2-hour block. Whoever's turn it was was supposed to put their name and room number on the whiteboard so someone could find you if your laundry was done for 10+ min and you still hadn't come gotten it.
The dryer took quarters, but you could also put money on your ID card and swipe it to pay for laundry, and if you did that they gave you a slight discount. Once you put money on the card though you could only spend it within the university, and you couldnt get a refund for money not used (that was my university's policy, yours could be different).


You will have a key to your room, and a mailbox key. If you have a roommate, they will probably have identical keys to yours. The front desk will also have at least one spare key to your room. Different colleges have different policies about what happens if you lose your key. In my university, you could check out up to 3 "loaner" keys a semester, for 24 hour periods each, while you looked for your original key. After each 24 hour period, you had to return the key. If you still could not find your key, they would charge you a fine, change your lock, and give you (and your roommate if you had one) new keys for the new lock. I recommend keeping your keys on a lanyard, one with a keyring and not a clip, because clips are way too easy to open by accident. I personally could not keep my key in my pocket becuase I'd change my pants and forget to take it out. But if you make a habit of taking it out of your pocket every night, always putting it down in the same place, and remembering to take it with you again every morning, then it might be fine for you to keep it in your pocket.

Keycard/ID Card

This is often not just a keycard and ID card, but also a card that pays for your mealplan, your laundry, and possibly "points"/money to spend in stores on campus (if you pay with "points" on the card the campus stores will charge you less for stuff. You get points by putting money on the card. Once the money is on the card though, it can only be used for stuff within the university, and my university did not give refunds for money you put on there but never spent, so never put more on the card than you think you will use, and make sure you know what you can use it for before putting money on it.)


When you have guests over to your room, you have to sign them in and out. When we had someone over we swiped our ID and they showed theirs. Then when the guest(s) was/were ready to leave, I'd tell the front desk that I was signing x number of guests out of room # ___.

In terms of having guests over, we were allowed up to three "overnight stays" a week. I think overnight counted as staying past 3. The reason dorms have this rule is so that you don't have anyone basically living with you in your room without paying rent to the university.


Most students leave campus for breaks, and there are a few rules for cleaning up before you go. Your college will email the rules, and also hand out fliers, and probably have a "mandatory" floor meeting about break rules, where everyone has to listen to the RA go over them, and then take a flier. Basically the most important rules are to turn off and unplug everything in your room (including turning off the lights)before you leave, get rid of all perishables and food/drink-related trash, and empty the trash and recycling cans. And if your room has its own air conditioner, make sure nothing is on top of it it, that there is a clear path to it where nothing is on the floor, and make sure it is off before you leave. After you leave, an RA and a staff member will go into your room and do a basic check to make sure the rules seem to be followed.

During summer break, between Sophomore and Junior Year, you will have to move out of your room completely, so that whoever is taking summer classes can stay in your room (unless you yourself are taking summer classes and are still using it).

The Gym

Most colleges have a gym. A lot of time, gym fees are included in tuition, but some colleges make you pay for them separately. If you think you want a gym membership, contact either the gym or your college's bursar/financial office to ask what the fee for it is. In terms of what the gym has, that varies from college to college. Most gyms have weightlifting machines and basketball courts, at minimum. Mine also had a pool, which is normal, a raquetball court (which might be normal, I'm not sure), and a rock-climbing wall, which was neat but had its own fee separate from the gym. Many gyms also offer classes, as well as personal training. Classes like zumba can be really fun! Whether the classes are free to gym members or have their own fees separate from gym fees also varies by college. If you call your college's gym though, I'm sure they'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. A lot of gyms also sell equipment if you need it, or offer fees to loan it (sometimes you can even pay a small fee to loan it just for a day or a few hours.

Stuff to Pack or Buy

You should definitely buy a chair for guests. Personally I like the foldable kind cuz they're easy to move. My favorite type is butterfly chairs, but that's just a personal preference.

I recommend buying a mini fridge, especially one with a freezer compartment, if your dorm lets you. This is especially nice if you ever eat out, as you can take leftovers back to your dorm and then heat them up when you need a quick meal and are in a hurry. If you don't eat out, you can fill it with yoghurt or fruit. It's also a good idea to have a hot-water-boiler for making tea and hot cocoa, and a microwave-safe mug for hot drinks. Again though, always check with your dorm to make sure appliances are permitted.

You shoud definitely buy plastic silverware and paper plates and bowls and napkins, and maybe either juice pouches or plastic cups. They're useful if you ever have guests.

You should buy a reusable water bottle. You'll get thirsty in class, trust me.

You should also buy a backpack to carry stuff around in.

Paper towels are essential, as is 409. They're especially good for cleaning out the fridge, if you end up having one.

Obviously, you should bring toiletries. Soap, shampoo, shower puffs, tampons/pads, razors, hairbrush, deoderant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbands, make-up, jewelry, etc. As the above poster said, flip-flops for the shower are a good idea.

Think of moving into your dorm as being on a really long vacation, and pack all the stuff you'd need for the trip. Also, it's good to have a reusable cup or two, for rinsing when you brush your teeth. You should also take 2 bath towels, so that you always have one to use when the other is being washed. Also, you may want a smaller cheaper towel for the pool, or for wiping off sweat at the gym.

Be sure to bring stuff for the weather. An sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, an umbrella, raincoat, gloves, boots, a warm coat, etc. Yu also may want to bring gym/work-out clothes, as well as a bathing suit and goggles if they have a pool.

You should definitely bring a suitcase. Most people go home for spring, fall and winter break, and when they do they leave most of their stuff in their dorm and take what they'll need for a week or two at home in their suitcase. You also might want a laptop bag for a laptop, dvds, cds, headphones, ipod, chargers, and whatever else you might need to take back home.

You should definitely buy power strips/surge protectors. They make you able to plug in way more electronics than the normal two plugs. Also, know that most colleges ban extension cords.

You should bring at least one alarm clock if you don't think your phone will be enough.

You'll need some kind of way to store hand-outs, as some professors never put stuff online, and expect you to keep track of papers when they give them to you. You could buy a couple of plastic folders for those. It helps to have them in different colors so you can remember which class each one is for. Also, the papers stay in better when pockets in the folders have sides than when they are just flaps. Also, plastic folders tend to tear less than paper ones.

You'll need the usual noteboooks and pencils/pens/mechanical pencils. You'll need #2 pencils for test bubble-sheets (scantrons). Also, if you buy regular pencils, you should keep a pencil sharpener on you, as a lot of classrooms don't have them. Be sure to test the sharpener to make sure it's the right size.

You should buy your school supplies outside of college (Walmart, Staples, Office Depot, etc.), as on-campus bookstores are always overpriced.

Pro tip: email your professors about textbooks before school starts. A lot of professors will let you buy older editions of the textbooks, which are cheaper than the most recent editions, but have almost the exact same content. And in some classes you may not even need the textbook. But you should ask your professors about textbooks first and then buy them. Also, if they say you need the textbook, buy it online, not at the on-campus bookstore. On-campus bookstores are always insanely overpriced.

Other Stuff

Many dorms have their own vacuum cleaners. They're usually noisy though, just a warning. You can sign them out at the front desk. You'll show the your ID and they'll swipe it, and you'll tell them the number on the vacuum you're taking. Later, You'll return it and they'll write down that vacuum # x was returned. Not all dorms have vacuum cleaners though. You may need to buy one.

Some dorms have their own kitchens and computer labs. You can usually sign out a key for them. They'll swipe your ID card, and they'll give you a numbered key. They'll write down the number, and when you give the key back, they'll write that key # x was returned. By the way though, even if your dorm has a kitchen, it might not supply pots and pans and plates and spoons and oven mitts and stuff, so you may have to supply your own.

Most dorms have lounges with a couch or two, some chairs and a TV. These are usually public areas, where students who may not be from your dorm will visit to meet new people or hang out with their friends. In my dorm often people bring consoles over and use the TV in the lounge to play videogames. The lounge is a good way to meet new people.

Some dorms also have an area with chairs and pool tables, and possibly ski ball or air hockey.

Your university will likely have a library, a writer's center, and a tutoring center, among other things. You should check these out; they're invaluable resources.

Your school will likely also have a bunch of online research databases they'll teach you how to use.

Have you checked the college website? College websites tends to talk about meal plans and dorm rules and a bunch of other useful things. You can also call your college's Housing and Residence Life department , or the front desk of your dorm, about any questions you might have.

I hope this has helped you know a little bit of what to expect. I wish you the best of luck on your new adventure!

Last edited by NatureFantasy; June 9th 2015 at 05:55 PM.
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Re: Adapting to dorming - June 9th 2015, 03:10 PM

Ok since everyone covered the details already, dorms are what they are. And whether you have to share a bedroom vs. share a communal space (e.g. a living room area, kitchen, bathroom) makes a huge difference. For me, I was ok with having my own bedroom and sharing communal spaces, but I would have moved out in a heart beat if I was forced to share a bedroom. Since I was really depressed in my first year and spent a lot of time having melt downs in my bedroom, I can promise you that having that level of privacy is essential. I get that not everyone has the luxury of their own room, but for me it is essential because I need somewhere to go that is mine if I am having a bad day and need to be alone.

Dorms are one of those iffy things. There were things I hated about it and other things that I loved about it. For example, I disliked 2 of my roommates and liked 2 of my roommates. But not liking 2 of them was bad enough. I didn't like that people partied all the time but I did like how living in a dorm made it possible for me to meet people. I didn't like that I only had 1/5 of the space in a fridge (I love to cook, which means space in a kitchen) but I liked getting to share with people.

Any ways, like with everything, there are pros and cons.

As always, make sure you lock your doors - it'll make sure no one can grab your stuff PLUS it's just the "adult" thing to do. I know from experience that having to be the sole person who remembers little things like locking doors can be stressful, but it just gets easier after a while.

Homesickness also sucks. My first week or two away from home was hard. I had some other friends who were way more attached to their families and struggled for a whole semester or two to deal with being away from home. It was one of those things that I found frustrating though to be honest when people moped for a long time about how they missed mommy and daddy. Having to leave home is just part of being an adult, and you can only whine for so long, that said, I missed my parents too, so at the end of the day I accepted that most people hadn't been driven to hate their home towns so much that they looked into private boarding schools in other provinces for grade 11 and 12 just to get away (I never went but that wasn't the point). Homesickness passes. I mean, you'll miss your family but it is normal, and regardless of how annoying I found other peoples attitudes toward it (right or wrong), it is normal and it passes.

Going away to college is a big deal, and you learn how to cope with it in the best way possible for you. The adjustment can be hard, but you'll figure it out.

Feel free to PM me if you ever need to chat or have questions
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