I almost wanted to title this blog post “COLLEGE IS WAY TOO MUCH WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR ME,” but decided against it because it echoes a feeling I am only occasionally overwhelmed by.
Because I’ve received several requests and recurring questions about my life at university, I’ve decided to make a series of blog posts documenting my first year college experience, and this first one will be geared toward describing my freshman living situation in the dorms + general advice! And since I understand that many of you will be tackling university work next school year or in a few short years, I hope you can glean some new insights with this blog post series.
About a year ago, my dad and I packed my life away into white paper boxes and drove up to Northern California from sunny Los Angeles. We were met by the Bay Area’s summer gloom. Already, I sensed that things were different. I felt a wave of emotion crash over me, as I fully realized that I would be 400 miles away from all that was familiar to me, though the immediate surroundings of my campus would soon become just as familiar.
Move-in day, 2017 August 14.
Cold and cloudy, the morning sky promised rain. I woke up early to the sound of my phone’s alarm and felt a trickle of anxiety gnawing at me. I was in a new place with new people and of course, all of this was a new experience. What was I supposed to expect? I had no clue.
My father and I grabbed a quick breakfast and set out to navigate the narrow, one way streets of Berkeley. I was lucky enough to have been assigned to not just a double room, but also a mini-suite, which meant that I would only have one lovely roommate and a bathroom shared with one other room rather than the entire floor. (Many people are assigned to a triple during their first year at UC Berkeley, and bathrooms are shared and coed.)
Later that afternoon, I met my roommate, who is now one of my close friends. I also met my two suite-mates, who were living in the room adjacent to mine, and together, the four of us (along with one other friend) formed a close-knit friendship that I hold dear in my heart. If y’all are reading this, I LOVE YOU AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU SOON!!!
My room was spacious and comfortable. I seriously thought I brought a lot of stuff with me from home, but when I moved everything in, I realized that I still had plenty of room. I’d definitely recommend bringing less stuff to begin with because you’ll probably gradually accumulate more things as the school year progresses.
And after this crazy, fun, and overall amazing experience of living with people other than my family, (Roommate horror stories? Where?) I’ve compiled a list of some general things to keep in mind in order to sustain a great relationship with your roommate(s) and make your first year dorm experience a pleasant one:
Only bring what is necessary.
This is just as important as it is obvious. Your university will most likely have a list of what to bring and what not to bring. If they don’t mail you a physical list, you can find it online. Most dorms are small and won’t have a lot space for you to move your whole house into. Be mindful that you’ll also be sharing the space with at least one other person, so you definitely don’t want to be imposing on others by taking up too much of the room! (Taking up too much room? Hmm.)
You will also most likely accumulate more things as the semester and year goes on. I know I did, and I was half surprised by the sheer amount of shit I had to move out of my room…
Mail stuff…to yourself.
If you find that you have too many things you need to bring and not enough luggage space, you can box up some of the less important stuff and mail it to your new dorm address.
USPS Priority Mail boxes are free of charge and have a flat rate for shipping based on the size of the box or envelope. You can put anything with any weight up to a maximum of 70 lbs, and it will be the same price! I shipped my books to myself because they took up too much space and weight in my luggage otherwise.
Being considerate goes a long way.
Don’t be that roommate who constantly has their significant other over all the time. Refill the water in the Brita filter jug (would highly recommend getting one) if it’s running low. Try to be as quiet as you can in the morning if your roommate is still asleep as you leave for your 8AM chemistry lab.
Sometimes I’d make instant oats in the morning and add some yummy fruit to kickstart my day. But because that requires using the microwave noisily, I would never make it on Wednesdays when I had class at 8AM because my roommate typically wasn’t awake until about 9AM.
Talk to your roommate(s).
I know it’s sometimes awkward at first, especially if you opted to randomize your roommate, but try your best to be friendly and receptive. Offer to get a meal with them. Ask them about their day. Complain about classes and terrible professors together. Say hello when you see them and goodbye when you leave.
I remember that one time when I was really upset over a series of failed exams, my lovely roommate brought home some pretty flowers and tea eggs for me! It was a really sweet gesture, and I don’t think I’d ever forget it.
Keep things tidy and organized!
Please don’t eat peanuts and leave your discarded shells in haphazard piles and in cups scattered around the room. (Yes, I had a friend with a roommate like that and it was absolutely AWFUL) Make a conscious effort to clean on a designated day at least once a week. Just take out the trash, make your bed and clear out space on your desk so that you can work clutter-free. Trust me, having space to work can do wonders for your productivity. Clutter tends to cause distractions, and you don’t want that, especially as you’re trying to cram for exams! And if you’re as much of a germaphobe and clean freak as I am, I’d definitely recommend investing in a roll of Clorox wipes as well.
My roommate and I were pretty good about keeping things orderly and clean. We also had a small vacuum that we would occasionally use to clean hair, dust, and dirt off the floor. No one ever left clothes strewn about the room, and we almost always made our beds in the morning. (Life hack: If you ever want the appearance of a neat room, just make your bed!)
These are just some small, general pieces of advice that I have for those of you who are about to move away into your college dorms for the first time. It’s honestly such an amazing experience, and I know that you’ll love it as much as I did. If you do have any specific questions or requests, my DM’s and emails are always open. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for my next blog post in this series because the next one will be about something that’s been highly requested—dorm room decorating!