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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 near campus, you’ll most likely be living with roommates. Very few college students live alone, mostly because it’s too expensive. Rent for an apartment in university towns can reach up to $750 a month. It might not seem like a lot, and it might not be if your parents are paying for it, but for most students, $750 a month isn’t reasonable. The solution to lower rent is living with roommates. In this article, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of living with roommates, how to find roommates, and share some of my experiences along the way. Due to its length, this will be a two-part post. The first part will be about college life, while the second part will be about life after college.
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 alone. I’m living alone for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, it’s very different from college.
Most students begin their college experience in a dormitory. When I moved in, I decided to live in an old fashioned dorm. Twenty some odd rooms upstairs with a large shared bathroom. The boys’ section was separated from the girls’ section by a living room/kitchen with a stove, an oven, a couple of sofas and a TV. It’s not quite the same as living at home with your own bedroom and bathroom. Most dorms (at least the old fashioned ones) don’t have single rooms. Everyone has a roommate, and sometimes there are three in a room. Most schools give you the option to choose a roommate or randomly assign one. In my freshman year, I decided to live with a friend. Make sure you’re good friends with this person or you might end up trying to kill each other. I have so many friends who hated their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but inside the room was hell.
I was lucky in my first semester of university. I mostly got along with my roommate. We lived different lives, which was good. I was on the meal plan and he wasn’t. We took different classes at different times and were with different people. In my opinion, this is how it should be if you choose to live with a friend. You can’t be too close or your friendship will crumble. (Please note that the dorms I’m talking about are about 12×12 with two twin beds and two desks and plenty of space. New age dorms where people have their own rooms and bathrooms are completely different.) My friend who I lived together, after our first semester they transferred to a new school for various reasons. I thought I had it done in the shade. Wouldn’t the school know? Can I have the room to myself? The answer was no.
Enter Kraut (my new roommate from Germany). He was American but grew up in Germany on a military base. It was one of the best and worst experiences of college. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. It’s every newbie’s worst nightmare. Andrew (whom I referred to as Kraut…please don’t be mad about this. It was just a friendly joke between us) moved in with me because his previous roommates voted him out of a three-bed dorm room. Wow. After living with him for a semester, I know why he was voted out.
First, he was in ROTC. I don’t mind being a proud American and wanting to serve in the military, but when you have to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning to go run with that squad, that’s when I start to lose it. Her alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. everyday and she snoozed for about 30 minutes. He never went to class, so he was there to take away all my free time. He played Counter-Strike (which I’m sure everyone knows what it is. Counter-Strike is a terrorist/anti-terrorist video game). He played the sound all night. You’d think the dorm room was a war zone. I tried to take her with me or have lunch with her at the cafe, but I just couldn’t take her. I learned a lot from Kraut and will never forget it. My most memorable moment is when I turned the volume on my computer all the way up and blasted the Salute Your Shorts theme song right into his ear while he was sleeping. I recorded the whole thing on video. He pulled me off and laid down. I haven’t seen Kraut since I moved out of the dorm.
Some pros and cons of dorm life (again, I’m talking about the old-fashioned dorms, not the apartment-style ones).
Pro – Right on campus. You can get up 5 minutes before class and walk around in your boxers.
Pro – Right on campus. Food is nearby (especially if you’re on a meal plan).
Pro – Social life. You can meet a lot of new people in the dormitories. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini-parties and social events where everyone hangs out.
Pro – This is new. College is about experiencing new things. Dormitory life is one of them.
Pro – Cheap. Not nearly as expensive as renting an apartment.
Pro – Very easy to find sports games.
Pro – There is an Ethernet computer network. High speed internet access and everyone is connected. Great for video games. (When I was a freshman, things like Napster were brand new. People were downloading music left and right on the high-speed network, sharing music like you’d never seen before. And as far as we could tell, it was all legal).
Con – No privacy. People will randomly walk into your room. Keep it closed.
Con – Old and dirty dorms are no fun. I was sick once a month while living there. I still have breathing problems.
Con – The dorms are very small. You won’t be able to fit everything in your closet.
Con – You have annoying roommates that you can’t do anything about.
Con – Internet firewalls. In some dormitories, what you can and cannot do on the school’s Internet is now strictly regulated. Sorry guys, you can’t download music here.
Con – Food preparation can be a major problem. No fridge or oven in your room.
Con – Bugs and rats. Depending on how old your dorm is (mine was built in the 40’s I think) you may have rodents running around. We had a rat problem a week ago. I saw one run across the floor in my room and then disappear into the wall.
Well, that’s it for today. Come back tomorrow (or Monday) for College Roommates II. to his part. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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