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College Roommates Part I – Dorm Life
Whether you’re moving into the dorms as a freshman or a senior looking for a nice house close to campus, you’re likely living with roommates. There are very few college students who live alone, mostly because it’s too expensive. In college towns, rent for a single apartment can reach $750 a month. It may not seem like much, and it may not be if your parents are paying for it, but for most students $750 a month is not unreasonable. The solution to reduce the rent is to live with roommates. In this article I’ll talk about the pros and cons of living with roommates, how to find them, and share some of my experiences along the way. This will be a two-part post due to its length. Part I will discuss dorm life, while Part II will discuss life after dorms.
Having just graduated college in April 2005, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on college life. Not much has changed in the few months I’ve been on my own. I’m living on my own for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, it’s a lot different than being in college.
Most students begin their college experience living in the dorms. When I moved, I chose to live in an old dorm. Twenty odd rooms on the floor with a large communal bathroom. The boys’ section was separated from the girls’ by a lounge/kitchen with a stove, an oven, a few sofas and a TV. It’s not the same as living at home with your own bedroom and bathroom. Most dorms (at least the old fashioned ones) don’t have individual rooms. Everyone has a roommate, and sometimes there are triples in a room. Most schools give you the option of choosing your roommate or being randomly assigned one. My first year, I chose to live with a friend. Make sure you are good friends with this person or you might end up wanting to kill each other. I have so many friends who ended up hating their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but in the room it was hell.
I was lucky for the first semester of college. I got along with my roommate for the most part. We led different lives, which was a good thing. I was on the meal plan and he wasn’t. We took different classes at different times and also went out with different people. In my opinion, this is how it should be if you decide to live with a friend. You can’t be too close or your friendship will break. (Please note that the bedrooms I’m talking about are the ones that are about 12 x 12 with two single beds and two desks and enough room to stand up. The new age bedrooms where people have their own rooms and bathrooms are totally different.) My roommate ended up transferring to a new school after our first semester for various reasons. I thought he did it in the shade. Wouldn’t the school know? Would you make the room for me? The answer was no.
Enter Kraut (my new roommate from Germany). He was American, but he grew up in Germany on a military base. This was one of the best and worst experiences of college. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. This is every freshman’s worst nightmare. Andrew (who I referred to as Kraut…please don’t be offended. It was just a friendly joke between us) moved in with me because his previous roommates voted him out of ‘a triple room. Wow! After living with him for a semester, I know why he was voted out.
First, I was in the ROTC. I have nothing against being a proud American and wanting to serve in the military, but when you have to wake up every morning at 4 am to go run with this squad, that’s when I start to lose it. His alarm went off every day at 3:45 am and snoozed for about 30 minutes. I never went to class, so he was there to annoy me in all my free time. He played Counter-Strike (which I’m sure you all know what it is. Counter-Strike is a terrorist/counter-terrorist video game). He played it all night with the volume turned up. You’d think my bedroom was a war zone. I tried to take him with me, or have lunch with him in the cafeteria, but I couldn’t bear it. I learned a lot from Kraut and will never forget it. My most memorable moment was when I turned up the volume on my computer and played the Salute Your Shorts theme in her ear as she slept. I captured everything on video. He took me off and went to bed. I haven’t seen Kraut since I moved out of the dorm.
Some pros and cons of living in the dorms (again, I’m talking about the old dorms, not the apartment-style ones).
Pro – Right on campus. You can wake up 5 minutes before class and walk there in your shorts.
Pro – Right on campus. Food is nearby (especially if you’re on a meal plan).
Pro – Social life. You meet a lot of new people who live in the dorms. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini-parties and social events where everyone hangs out.
Pro – It’s new. College is about experiencing new things. Dorm life is one of them.
Pro – It’s cheap. It is not as expensive as renting an apartment.
Pro – It’s very easy to find pickup games for sports.
Pro – There is an Ethernet computer network. High speed internet access and everyone is connected. Great for playing video games. (When I was a freshman, things like Napster were new. People were downloading music left and right on the high-speed network and sharing music like you’d never seen it before. And as far as we knew, everything was legal).
Cons – No privacy. People will randomly walk into your room. Keep it closed.
Con – Old and dirty bedrooms are no fun. I got sick once a month living there. I still have breathing problems.
Con – The bedrooms are very small. You won’t be able to fit everything in your closet.
Cons – Having annoying roommates that you can’t do anything about.
Con – Internet Firewall. Some dorms are very strict now about what you can and can’t do on the school internet. Sorry guys, no music downloads required here.
Cons – Cooking food can be a big problem. You don’t have a fridge or oven in your room.
Con – Cockroaches and rats. Depending on how old your bedroom is (I think mine was built in the 40’s) you may find rodents running around. We had a problem with rats one week. I saw one run across the floor in my room and then disappear into the wall.
Well, that’s all I have for today. Come back tomorrow (or Monday) for part two of College Roommates. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]
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