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College Roommates Part I – Dorm Life
Whether you’re moving into the dorm as a freshman or you’re a senior looking for a nice house near campus, chances are you’ll be living with roommates. There are very few students living alone, mainly because it’s too expensive. In college towns, the rent for an individual apartment can reach up to $750 per month. That might not seem like a lot, and maybe it isn’t if your parents are paying for it, but for the majority of college students, $750 a month isn’t reasonable. The solution to lower 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 roommates, and share some of my experiences along the way. This will be a two part item due to its length. Part I will discuss dorm life, while Part II will discuss life after dorms.
Since I just graduated from university in April 2005, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on university 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 quite different being in college.
Most students begin their college experience by living in the dorms. When I moved in, I chose to live in an old-fashioned dorm. Twenty odd bedrooms upstairs with a large shared bathroom. The boys’ section was separated from the girls’ section by a living room/kitchen with a stove, oven, a few 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 a single room. Everyone has a roommate, and sometimes there are triples in a room. Most schools give you the option of choosing your roommate or having one randomly assigned to you. My freshman year, I chose to live with a friend. Make sure you’re good friends with this person, otherwise you might end up wanting to kill yourself. I have so many friends who ended up hating their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but in the bedroom it was hell.
I was lucky for the first semester of college. I got along with my roommate for the most part. We were leading different lives, which was a good thing. I was on the meal plan and he wasn’t. We took different courses at different times and also spent time with different people. In my opinion, this is how it should be if you choose to live with a friend. You can’t get too close or your friendship will crumble. (Please note that the dorms I’m talking about are the ones that are about 12×12 with two twin beds and two desks and enough room to stand. New age dorms where people have their own bedrooms and bathrooms are totally different.) My friend who I shared a room with ended up transferring to a new school after our first semester for various reasons. I thought I had it done in the shade. Wouldn’t the school know? Would 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 in college. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. It’s every freshman’s worst nightmare. Andrew (whom I used to call Kraut…please don’t take offense. It was just a friendly joke between us) moved in with me because he was kicked out of a triple dorm by his old ones Flatmates. Wow. After living with him for a semester, I know why they rejected him.
First, he was into ROTC. I have nothing against 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 running with that squadron, that’s when I begins to lose it. His alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. every day and he naps for about 30 minutes. He 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 sound up. You would think my dorm was a war zone. I tried to take him with me or have lunch with him in the cafeteria, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I learned a lot from Kraut and I will never forget it. My most memorable moment is when I turned the volume up all the way on my PC and played the theme song Salute Your Shorts right into his ear while he slept. I captured everything on video. He fired me and went to bed. I haven’t seen Kraut since I left the dorm.
A few pros and cons of living in the dorms (again, I’m talking about the old fashioned dorms, not the apartment style ones).
Pros – Directly on campus. You can wake up 5 minutes before class and walk around in your underwear.
Pros – Directly on campus. Food is nearby (especially if you’re on a meal plan).
For – Social life. You meet a lot of new people living in the dorms. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini parties and social events where everyone gets together.
For – It’s new. College is about experiencing new things. Dorm life is one of them.
Pros – It’s cheap. Not as expensive as renting an apartment.
Pro – It is very easy to find sports games.
Pros – 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 all new. People were downloading music left and right on the broadband network and sharing music like you’ve never seen. And as far as we know, everything was legal).
Cons – No privacy. People will randomly enter your room. Keep it locked.
Con – Old and dirty dorm rooms are no fun. I used to get sick once a month living there. I still have breathing problems.
Cons – The dorms are very small. You won’t be able to fit everything you have in your closet.
Con – Having annoying roommates that you can’t do anything about.
Con – Internet Firewall. Some dorms are now very strict about what you can and cannot do on the internet at school. Sorry guys, no music download here.
Con – Cooking food can be a real hassle. You don’t have fridge or oven in your room.
Con – Insects and rats. Depending on the age of your dorm (mine was built in the 40’s I think) you might find rodents running around. We had a rat problem one week. I saw one running across my bedroom floor, then it disappeared into the wall.
Well, that’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow (or Monday) for College Roommates Part II. If you have any questions, email me at email@example.com
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