4 Tips To Help You Avoid the Doom Dorm
- Set Expectations: My school has a policy that requires all roommates (and suitemates) to create written agreements regarding what they expect from each other. This creates discussions about length of time it’s ok for dishes to sit unwashed, what the policy is on no pants, and if the toilet lid must be down or up. Having them written down and posted in a public area can serve as a friendly reminder for when college life gets a little hectic and people's manners start to slide.
- Do Your Part to Uphold the Agreement: It's really easy to get busy with your new schedules and you're probably going to have a different grasp of time management than you did in high school. The downside to this situation is that often the part of your life you neglect is things you think you can get away with and for some reason the neglect often gets doled out to things that affect everyone. Leaving your dishes for two weeks is not cool and neither is clogging the shower drain with your hair monster. Think of how annoying it is to go to clean your dishes and find yourself wading through three day old coffee and dishes that look like a mixture of burnt cheese and red sauce. Have common courtesy, even when you're exhausted/stressed/inebriated.
- Build Your Community: In order to make friends with everyone in your suite or on your floor, you need to have have get-togethers that are fun and relaxing. One of my favorite activities of my freshman year was our suite brunches.These required organization and initiative. If my friend and suitemate, Martha Scott, hadn't made the effort to get everyone to sign up and show up, they never would have happened! We all made food, invited friends, and had a great time. It's important to make traditions- they'll hold you together (or give you a chance to get to know each other). My old suite still gets together for brunch and I always think back to how much fun they were last year. If you don't have a kitchen you can plan activities as simple as getting a meal together in the dining hall, working out together (if you're fitness buffs), making a monthly grocery trip, or just having a movie night once in awhile. Cooking together is a sure way to get to know someone and it can be something simple, like making amazing German Lace cookies. Or if you're feeling fancy, try your hand at Chicken Alabam. The important thing is to have some friendly fun.
- If a Community Isn't Feasible, at Least Make Your Dorm a Comfortable Environment. It's entirely possible that you will live in a suite or floor full of people with whom you just don't click. While this is unfortunate, try to focus on your commonalities rather than your differences. Be polite to everyone so you're at least comfortable saying "Hi" as there are few worse things than having a home in which you don't feel comfortable. Creating a toxic environment won't just punish your suitemates, it will make your home a place where you don't want to be. Even if it's simply a smile or a polite inquiry about their day, put forth the effort to make a welcoming and friendly place for everyone who lives there. You won't be best friends with everyone you live with; but that doesn't mean you have to be enemies either.