The ultimate dorm survival guide

by Jori Ayers 

Moving to another state or even country for college can be nerve-wracking for anyone. Making it to your dream college is exciting on its own but having to adjust to a different setting, make new friends all over again and move into a much smaller space is a task on its own. Traveling hours or maybe even days to get to college and moving into your dorm and adjusting to the “dorm life” can be stressful, but remember that there are other students who feel the same way. Here are some few tips and tricks on surviving the dorm life in college. 

Tip #1: Make sure you have all your dorm essentials 

That means to bring what you need and don’t bring unnecessary things that you won’t use. Don’t buy things that you think you might need because, in the long run, you won’t need them at all. When you do end up bringing all that unnecessary stuff with you, it just ends up taking up space and your room becomes crowded with stuff that you don’t even use. 

“I wish I never brought the collection of purses, backpacks and wallets that I thought I would need to have, said UT alumna, Meghan Chayka. “I guarantee you, I only used about a quarter of all the bags I brought with me.”. 

This tip goes for ladies and gentlemen. Don’t bring your whole wardrobe with you because you have to remember that your dorm room is smaller than your room at home and you might be sharing a space with someone else. Be considerate of their area as well. You will buy and accumulate things throughout the semester.

Tip #2: Dealing with homesickness

Being away from home can make you feel uneasy and sad, but decorating your room  with little things that remind you of home can make you feel a bit better. It can be hard moving somewhere that you aren’t familiar with. Moving into a different setting, but something as simple as a picture of you and your family can make that feeling go away. 

“Coming from Thailand to Tampa was hard,” said junior international business and entrepreneurship major, Pawatchaya Jarrunakorn. “Decorate it [your dorm] how you would like it to be back in your own bedroom back at home by seeing the same comfort and similarity, you can make your dorm feel a little more homey.”.

Besides decorating your dorm, you can always call your family back home. Just because you’re in that adulting stage of your life doesn’t mean you can’t call home. Don’t stay cooped up in your room, go out and socialize,make new friends and hang out with your roommates. You never know, you might have a lot of things in common with whomever you meet.

Tip #3: Roommates 

Hearing all the crazy roommate stories from online to other college friends can be intimidating and scary, but it doesn’t always turn out like that. Sometimes you end up gaining life long friendships. Don’t go into this thinking that you’re going to have a horrible roommate because that might have a negative impact once you do meet them. Go in with a positive attitude about meeting them. 

“Find some common interests first through movies, TV shows, etc. this will help break the ice and start a conversation,” said sophomore communication major, Cecilia Saltiel. “Make time to sit down, or go out, and talk because communication face-to-face is the key.”

Make sure you talk to your roommates about any problems or habits that you have so you won’t end up bumping heads about certain things. Put everything out on the table at the beginning of the semester, so if you do have problems, you and your roommates can work something out. 

Tip #4: Socializing and Making Friends 

Coming into college and trying to make friends can be difficult but shake those nerves away and do it. Every college campus will have some welcome back extravaganza, go out,explore and see what they have. Step out of your comfort zone and join that club or talk to some people, you won’t regret it in the end.

“Making friends in the dorm can easily start by seeing who is living there during the floor meeting. Maybe go say hi or see if you have the same class,” said Jarrunakorn. Talk to people in your class, join organizations, invite some people over to your dorm. Put yourself out there and be confident. 

Tip #5: Eating tips for your dorm 

Moving into your dorm and realizing you’re not going to have your mom’s cooking anymore can be pretty depressing but you will find new things to eat and maybe create some dishes of your own. Living off meal swipes isn’t as bad as it sounds. You need to find things that work for you. 

“On top of microwavable items, I found my freshman year that most places around campus other than Ultimate Dining had better ‘ready-to-go’ meals than what you could put in a to-go container,” said Chayka. 

Keep food in your dorm and buy things in bulk and stock up for whenever you have those random food cravings.

Living in a college dorm can have its ups and downs and you’re going to find yourself in all different types of situations, but that’s just the college experience. Keep these essential tips in mind, and you will do fine. 

“It’s an experience that everyone should go through,” said Saltiel. “You live with people you may know or not know; you learn how to be independent of your stuff, and you learn how to be organized.”

Once you get a grasp of everything, your experience and time in college will transition smoothly. You will make many memories and lifetime friends, so go on, relax and enjoy the ride of college.

Jori Ayers can be reached at

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