New students living in residence halls experience a plethora of emotions, ranging from nail-biting nervousness about new roommates to bed-jumping ecstasy, at the idea of finally being out of their parents’ place. But no matter who you are or where you’re coming from, be aware that there are a few pitfalls students living on campus often fall prey to. Here is a survival guide for incoming dorm residents, and tips on how to make your first year living on campus an enjoyable one.
First of all, you are not too cool for school (or any other school-related events), so get that idea out of your head right this instant. Resident advisers and other leaders organize orientation events for the purpose of getting comfortable in your new environment, and it’s best to seize that opportunity. Too many dorm residents start off their experience thinking that ice-breaking activities in the dorms are corny. Newsflash: They are! You might as well embrace the cheesiness of the situation and have fun with it. Go out there and play in that game of musical chairs, or grab your roommates and watch that movie your RA is showing outside on the lawn. You may feel goofy, but try it out, and you might meet some really interesting people.
Next, whether you are moving to CSUN from across the country or across the street, try to stay away from home for a while after moving in. It’s easy to start feeling homesick, especially when you’ve had a bad day and all you want is a little of your mom’s homemade lasagna. Just give yourself some time to adjust to the dorm life before you automatically go back to your bubble of comfort. Start leaning on your roommates and fellow dormers for support rather than your parents. With time, they will start to feel like your family.
Because CSUN is largely a commuter school, keeping students on campus is difficult. Unfortunately, this affects the entire dorm community when people start to leave every weekend to go home. While there are plenty of students whose families live within driving distance, many other dorm residents are there precisely because they have nowhere else to stay in the area. People start feeling isolated in the dorms when they feel like they’re the only ones who are there all the time. Therefore, it is up to individuals to make the dorm community a stronger one.
New dorm residents also have to be careful of not falling into either of the extremes. There are the “freedom-finders” who find their new liberation from guardians exhilarating. These students push their boundaries to the limit, going to every party, staying out every night, perhaps leading a parade of naked streakers. These are probably the same people who show up half an hour late to every class. Be careful to enjoy your freedom within reason, never forgetting that you’re still here to get an education. Not to mention, it would also be nice to avoid any public indecency charges.
Other students are in the “homebody hermits” category. These people find themselves in a new situation. Do yourself a favor and log off World of Warcraft. There are things to enjoy outside and people to meet right across the hallway, but none of that will get done if you’re sitting in your dorm room with all the windows shut. If you’re going to spend all day on your laptop, at least do it in the dorm entryway. That way you’ll be able to meet people once in a while.
A nice ice-breaking activity of your own is to have a dorm potluck. Invite some of your neighbors over for a small get together and encourage everyone to bring something to eat. It can be a casual, no-pressure way of getting to know the people in your dorm.
Whether they make food from scratch or buy it at a local 7-Eleven, everyone should contribute in some small way. Of course, be sure to abide by dorm rules for how many people can be in a room (don’t get too crazy, people). Potlucks can particularly be fun around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when people are missing family and they have a lot of food they need to get rid of before leaving for break.
No matter what, the dorm experience is what you make of it. There will be good and bad times, and it may not be an easy transition from your home to a new environment. However, remember to put yourself out there and try new things. You won’t regret it.