Dorms, Apartments, and Roommates – Oh My!

Today, I want to let you in on all things about college dorms, apartments and roommates, because it’s very clear that most people have this idea in their heads about how amazing life away from home and at college with roommates is, but there are challenges when it comes to moving into a new space and living with new people.  

ITEMS YOU DO NOT WANT TO BRING TO COLLEGE:

1. More than 3 throw pillows! Make sure to consider where you’ll be able to have throw pillows. If it’s just on your bed, you’ll need one max, but if you have a futon or other seating area, you can comfortably fit more in your dorm. I recommend three so you can have one for your bed and two for each side of the futon. Yes, pillows are awesome and at home you may have a ton on your bed, but a college dorm isn’t the same as your personal bedroom at home. You are most likely sharing with at least another person in a small space, so you don’t want to feel super cramped with a ton of throw pillows all over the place.

2. Extra drawer units!! I’m all about having a place for everything in my room that is not out in the open, but tucked away perfectly in place in a drawer. College dorms know that you need places to store stuff. That’s why they provide you with a desk with drawers, a closet, and a dresser with drawers. I personally didn’t need any more drawer room. Some people may, so before going ham at Bed Bath and Beyond before moving, I recommend fully moving into your dorm and then from there seeing if it’s necessary to purchase more drawer space. You may be surprised to find they provide you with exactly the right amount of storage. 

3. Desk decorations!! Everybody wants to have that picture perfect, pinterest worthy dorm when shopping for dorm supplies… specifically the artsy desk decorations that provide an aesthetic to the entire room. TJ Maxx can be your best friend and your worst enemy all at the same time. You and your roommate are going to clash in terms of decor, and ultimately you’ll be using your desk as a workspace and not as a stage for the Pottery Barn catalogue. Desk decor goes the same as extra drawer units… wait until you’ve moved in and used your desk space to really figure out if desk decorations are needed, and if so how many. 

4. YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE!! I know the one thing you’ve had in your mind from the beginning of the episode was “How the heck am I going to fit all of my clothes into my tiny, shared, dorm closet?” You’ll hear it from me, probably ignore me, and find out towards the end of the year before winter break that I am a genius… YOU DO NOT NEED YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE. You really only need probably half of the clothes you own. When you’re packing to move, just bring the things you wear regularly. Another thing I recommend especially if you live fairly close to home is to pack for seasons. Bring all of your summer clothes with a few colder weather items, and swap them out for your winter clothes when you go home for fall break. Try on everything in your wardrobe before deciding what to bring with you to school so you know for sure you’ll wear it regularly and not be longing for that sweater you left in the back of your closet at home. Also, since they’re pretty closely related… don’t bring every single pair of shoes that you own. For sure bring snow boots if you live in a snowy state, or rain boots if you don’t live in a snowy state. Bring your sneakers, a pair of sandals, and a pair of dressy shoes to wear on a night out. 

5. BINDERS!! You probably are going to ignore me on this one too and learn through your own experience, but do not buy school supplies (aside from notebooks and pens or pencils) until you have gone to class and know exactly how your professor operates in terms of in class assignments and homework. YOU ARE NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE!! I REPEAT YOU ARE NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL! The organizational system that you had there is not going to be the same as the one you have in college. Depending on the courses you take, many of them, especially as a freshman, are going to be lecture based where the professor talks at you with a powerpoint. In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t even buy notebooks. I would recommend buying a folder for each of your classes and printing off the lecture notes before class. You won’t be able to write everything down in a notebook on the slide and what the professor is saying. If you print off the lecture notes, you have everything on the slide and just have to take notes on the slide about what the professor says that isn’t on the slide. Get my drift? Depending on the class, wait a couple weeks to really decide if buying more schools supplies is necessary. School supplies are expensive so you want to make sure you get what you really need and not what you think you’ll need. 

6. You DO NOT need more than one water bottle. I repeat, you DO NOT more than one water bottle. You will most likely go to so many different events on campus that give you random water bottles and cups for “free,” so my suggestion is to bring ONE water bottle and to make that the one you want to use on a regular basis. For me, that happens to be my 40oz hydro flask with a straw that is insulated so it keeps my water cool all day long. I LOVE IT and I use it every single day. Bring your favorite water bottle and keep it simple. You do not need a ton of water bottles hanging around taking up space.

ITEMS TO BRING TO COLLEGE:

We’ve covered all of the things you shouldn’t bring to your dorm room, and upperclassmen will know and agree with most likely all of those items. It’s now time to chat a little bit about apartments and a few things that you didn’t even think you should have. Dormies, keep listening as some of these could apply to you too.

1. If you live in an apartment off-campus (or even in a dorm), you definitely want to get renters insurance. It probably ranges from five to twenty dollars a month, but it’s totally worth it. Depending on the coverage you have, it can help in cases like smoke damage from a fire, water damage from a sprinkler system flood, or even someone breaking into your room and stealing valuables which is the most likely scenario. I didn’t know that this was an option when I was living in the dorms, but the apartment I’m living in makes it a requirement to have renters insurance. Accidents happen a lot more than you would expect, and it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. Spending a few bucks every month may sound like a drag, but you’ll be so thankful you did if something does happen to your belongings that would cost a fortune to replace without it.

2. Especially if you are out of state, you’re gonna want to pay attention to this one. Odds are you are going to get a job while on campus, and to get a job you need to have important documents available at hand. It is important to keep documents like your driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate handy. My first job I applied to on campus was to write for my university’s newspaper, and mid-year the state changed the rules that just providing your social security number wasn’t enough and that I needed the actual card to continue my employment and get paid. Thankfully, I live in state, so I just went home to go get mine, but that wasn’t the case for many of my other co-workers. 

3. MEDICATION!! Going off to college, it’s inevitable that you’re gonna need Advil for your terrible hangovers or headaches from long hours of studying, and you’re also most likely going to catch the common cold a couple times. So having a thermometer on hand and dayquil and nyquil is a must. One thing I discovered my freshman year is nasal spray. I literally cannot sleep when I am sick, congested, and can’t breathe. Nasal spray is an absolute life saver because it clears your nose out and helps you breathe easy at night. Make sure you have a small medicine stash with these essentials so that you are always prepared. There’s nothing worse than feeling like crap and having to go to the store to get them because you weren’t prepared. 

4. You guys, it’s college and odds are living in an apartment with hundreds of other college students, you are gonna have partiers that live it up every single night of the week when you have an exam the next morning at 8am and cannot sleep because of the ruckus above you. Make sure you stock up on ear plugs or invest in some noise-cancelling headphones like beats by Dr. Dre if you don’t already have a pair. Nobody wants to be that person who tries to shut the party down, and no one wants to be that person totally exhausted at their 8am exam because they didn’t say anything. Earplugs or noise canceling headphones will always do the trick and have you sleeping like a baby through any noise your neighbors from above throw at you. 

LET’S TALK ROOMMATES

After having lived in a dorm for at least a year, upperclassmen know exactly what it is they need to bring to their apartment, especially if they are sharing a room with another person. Now let’s talk roommates. Odds are if you’re living in a dorm or apartment, you have at least one other person you are living with. Whether they are a friend of yours or a complete stranger you met through facebook, communication is key and setting boundaries is necessary. Unless you’re living with a sibling or family member, you were not raised the same way. There are going to be situations you run into that will require open communication, honesty, and respectfulness to keep the peace when there is conflict. 

1. The fact of the matter is your roommate may not be your best friend, and your best friend probably shouldn’t be your roommate. You have to learn that it is okay not to be doing things together as roommates all of the time. You have to be okay living in the same room or unit doing separate things sometimes, and not be offended if your roommate has guests over and doing their own thing. This may be difficult for roommates living together who are best friends that do everything together, so consider this and decide what is best for you. 

2. Discuss if there are any kinds of foods you eat regularly that you’d like to share. If you live with three other people and you all drink milk, don’t be buying four separate gallons of milk. That would take up a ton of space in the fridge when you could all be sharing 1-2 gallons of milk per week and save money too. Money can become an issue in this situation if one person is responsible for always providing a shared food item, so make sure to share the costs whether it be through venmo or switching off each week who buys what depending on who shares each food item. 

3. Living with roommates, especially ones you are close with requires setting aside your pride every now and then. If something annoys you, take a breath and ask yourself if it’s worth getting into a huge fight that will ruin your friendship. Petty little arguments add up and resentment builds If your roommate or roommates are people you truly care about, learn to let go of the little things that aren’t worth it. Your friends aren’t like your siblings that you have to love no matter what argument you get into so keep that in mind when you’re ready to throw hands over something trivial. 

4. This should go without saying, but exchange emergency contact information with each other. If your roommate doesn’t come home one night and doesn’t tell you they will be gone, you need to reach out to their emergency contact to let them know the situation to see if it’s serious and needs further action. You are not responsible for their actions, but as their roommate you all owe each other the decency to let each other know when you will be home and be a concerned party for their safety just as your family would if you were living at home. 

5. Communicate exactly how to complete chores. A chores chart is a great idea, but what if someone’s idea of “clean the bathroom” is wiping down the sink while someone else mops, cleans the toilet, launders the bath mat and towels, and scrubs the shower? Can everyone agree that “your turn to wash the dishes” includes putting them away once they’re dry, or is that a separate chore on someone else’s list? These seem like tiny details if you’ve got a chores schedule worked out, until suddenly everyone is angry because there’s a moldy pot that’s been marinating in the sink for three weeks because no one thinks it’s *their* pot to clean.

6. Communication is HUGE but so is compromise. You can’t be stubborn or unwilling to bend. It won’t work — nothing will get solved. You have to find ways to make everybody happy and that means compromising on some small things to make the other person or other people happy. For example, I’m living with two roommates this year. One of them was looking at tapestries to hang in our living room and shared an Avatar the Last Airbender one. I started bursting out laughing and wanted to immediately say not a chance, but then the other roommate was totally down and absolutely loved the idea. It’s a tapestry. It’s not something to get into a huge fight about before even moving in with each other, so I let it be. They gave me different ones to pick from and I got to choose which one we hang in the living room. That was the compromise that we made together. 

7. Shoot your roommate or roommates a text if you plan on having people over. Just like you would inform your parents that you are having people over to your house, just inform your roommates you are inviting people to their apartment. You don’t need to ask permission, just a courtesy text is sufficient. 

8. You guys. If you plan to have a significant other over or a one night stand to your apartment, you need to agree as a “unit” the procedure for doing so and what is acceptable behavior. Setting these boundaries early on is key so that you don’t run into this sensitive issue by surprise. This type of situation can turn ugly fast if there are no boundaries in place. 

9. Remember that little habits of yours might not seem like a big deal, but it *could* be something that is seriously irritating to your roommates over time. For example, there are a lot of bathroom habits that one of my sister’s does that seriously bother me. I cannot stand when she forgets to throw away her hair fall out that she sticks to the shower wall, or when turns the shower head off when the water is still coming out of the shower head as opposed to coming out of the bathtub spigot so when I go in to shower after her I always get sprayed when sticking my arm in to check the temp before hopping in. She also never flushes the toilet when she goes to use the restroom in the middle of the night so I wake up to waste in the toilet. EVERY. MORNING. Again, she’s my family so I tell her but it’s something that I also put up with when she forgets. If she was my roommate, I would not be so loving which is why it is important to communicate with them if there are habits they have that bother you. 

10. Wear headphones. For everyone’s sake just please wear headphones! Do I need to say more on this one?

11. Act like your parents are visiting/landlord is inspecting/you’re bringing a date home at least once a week. Really that’s just showing respect for your roommates, especially if you aren’t a super clean put together person all the time.

Alright, wow that was a lot, but that’s all I have for you today. I hope that my advice regarding dorms, apartments and roommates was super helpful for you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Please!! Take a screenshot of yourself reading this and tag me on Instagram stories. I would love to know your feedback, and I’d also love to know what you would love to see future blog posts because I want you to tell me what you want so that I can create that for you. That’s what this blog is for. It’s for you!! 

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