Getting a room in a college dorm party can be the fulfilment of a long-held dream. It can also be full of surprises for both students and their parents.
Tamara Hindawi, a graduate of the University of Michigan, says, “My mother didn’t know that men and women would live in the same building until the day before I moved in.” Like most moms and dads, Tamara’s mom was worried about her daughter. Hindawi goes on to say, “It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.” The first three floors of the building were only for male students, while the top three floors were for female students. “Someone would tell a guy to leave if he was just hanging out on the women’s floor.”
Most parents everywhere worry about the same things. They are worried that their child’s dorm party will be a place where “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” rule. If it makes you feel better, the music in a modern college dorm party is more likely to be alternative rock, modern country, or hip-hop.
The good news for parents is this. Even though students probably flirt, play loud music, and drink alcohol in every dorm, you will also find them studying, writing papers, and talking about the meaning of life. Most young people just want to go to school and have fun while they’re doing it.
Dorms are an important part of college life in the United States. Freshmen and sophomores at many colleges have to live on campus in the dorms. They give students a place to live together, and a RA, or Resident Assistant, is there to keep an eye on things. Just like when a group of strangers lives together, there can be disagreements and changes that need to be made. But there are also good things about living in a dorm. In dorm parties, people often make friends and business connections that last a lifetime.
Concerns of students
Most colleges have offices for students that help new students get used to their new surroundings. Even if the name of the office is different, the job is still the same. Student Affairs offices promote diversity by making it easier for all kinds of students to fit in at school. They also help the university make accommodations for gay and lesbian students, students from different religions and ethnic groups, and international students. Often, the office of student affairs will put on special events where the rest of the students can learn about the rich cultures of the international students. Usually, groups of Asian American, African American, Latino, and international students will meet at the student affairs office. In addition to the office for students, some colleges have a separate office for international students.
Most universities have several different religious services every week. All of the major religions have student groups, like the Catholic Newman House and the Muslim Islamic Society of North America. Most of the time, these groups hold religious services on campus. Depending on how big they are, they may also have potluck dinners, social events, and charity events.
Most colleges also have groups for people of different religions. The goal of this group is to help people of different faiths understand each other better.
The Resident Helper
He or she will show you around the dorm. He or she will tell you the rules of the house and is there to help you if you have any problems, like noisy neighbours or a missing chair. RAs are not parents. They are college students who have been there at least a year. In exchange for being a RA, they get a free room. They won’t tell you when to eat or when to go to sleep. They just answer questions and help solve problems. If you have a problem with another student and talking to them about it doesn’t help, you should talk to the RA.
The Resident Director is in charge of the RA. The RD is a grown-up who works for the university. He or she is in charge of all the student housing at the university. If a problem is really bad, the RA will tell the RD about it if the students can’t figure out a solution.
Food, clothes, and money are the basics.
Most of your meals will be in the dining hall at school. Most dining halls are set up like buffets and have a wide range of foods for almost everyone. You’ll probably find a salad bar and a hot food and vegetable steam table. Many universities serve soups with sandwiches that are made to order. Depending on the school, you might be able to choose grilled fish or a stir-fry that is made to order. Some have kiosks where you can get fast food like pizza, burgers, cappuccino, and pastries. Even in small dining halls, there are usually a few different meals to choose from.
Many students decide to keep snacks in their dorm rooms party. This can also be helpful if you want to study and don’t want to stop to go to the dining hall for a meal. Just don’t make it a habit to eat peanut butter sandwiches or pizzas late at night in your dorm. It’s so common for first-year college students to gain weight that it’s called the “Freshman Fifteen.” This is the 15 pounds that the average student gains in the first semester. Most of the time, you should ignore the ice cream in the dining hall freezers and eat healthier foods instead.
While you’re at school, it’s important to keep up healthy habits. Most colleges and universities have a health club or gym where students can swim, run on an indoor track, or lift weights. They usually also have elliptical trainers, treadmills, and exercise bikes. Even if you just walk or ride your bike around a big campus, you will probably get enough exercise. Many colleges don’t let first-year students have cars. Some schools have few places to park and don’t let students bring cars on campus.
Bring clothes that can be worn in different temperatures. In August and September, when most colleges start classes, it’s very hot in many parts of the U.S. Before the semester ends, you can expect cooler weather, rain, and in some places, snow. It’s better not to bring too many clothes, but you’ll have to do your laundry every week if you don’t.
Most students wear jeans, sneakers, tee shirts or sweatshirts, and t-shirts to class. You should only need one dressy outfit. Don’t spend a lot of money on clothes before you get to school. Instead, wait until you get there and see what everyone else is wearing.
You can always buy cheap clothes near school to add to your wardrobe, but most of the time you should avoid the overpriced t-shirts and sweatshirts in the bookstore. It’s fun to have one with your school’s name on it, but it’s silly to spend $40 on sweatshirts over and over again just so you don’t have to do laundry. You can get a shirt of the same quality for $10 or less at Target or Walmart. If it’s hard to go to the laundromat often, bring or buy a few more clothes and a lot more socks and underwear. Having two sets of sheets for your bed is also helpful.
Many American parents joke that they only see their college-aged kids when all of their clothes are dirty. When the kids come home, they bring bags full of dirty clothes for Mom to wash. If you live in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or Morocco, it can get very expensive to have Mom do your laundry. You can do your own laundry because there are coin-operated washers and dryers in or near your college dorm. Most universities now give students ID cards that can also be used as debit cards, so they don’t have to carry cash. This one card can be used everywhere on campus, from vending machines for soft drinks to the campus store.
Your College Dorm party
You might think that the most prestigious colleges have the most comfortable dorm rooms party, but you’d be wrong. In fact, Ivy League colleges are often much older and have dorms that are small and crowded. Some schools don’t have enough rooms, so they have to put three or even four freshmen in one big room. Most likely, the nicest schools will be newer ones, especially in the western half of the country.
Most likely, your college dorm room party will only have two single beds and a shared dresser. Each of you will have a desk and chair to use for studying. Most of the time, the space two people share is about 10 feet by 20 feet. Everyone has their own small closet. Most dorms have a big bathroom at the end of the hall that everyone on the floor uses. In some college dorm party, two to four rooms in a “suite” share a standard bathroom.
What to Bring?
Here is a tip that college students tell us all the time. Don’t take too much with you! It’s better to bring too little than too much, especially if you’re travelling from the Middle East. In the words of one Kuwaiti student, “If you pack too much, it’s hard to send back a lot of things. And dorm rooms aren’t big enough to fit a lot of stuff in.” Plan to bring your clothes and a few things that are important to you. If you decide you really need the rest, you can buy it at a discount store over time. Also, depending on where you live, things you buy there might not work in the U.S.
If you wait to make big purchases, you can also talk to your roommate before you buy. If you’re both willing to share, there’s no reason to have two of everything. She might already have a microwave, so she might suggest you get a mini-fridge to store cold drinks and snacks.
You might want to bring a few things with you. If you already have one, bringing your iPod to school can be helpful. You can listen to your favourite music as loudly as you want with the earbuds without disturbing the whole dorm. They can also be used to block out annoying sounds. Just put on your favourite song or some music that makes you feel good.
You can talk to your parents on a U.S. cell phone, and you won’t have to fight with your roommates about the phone bill. Make sure you choose a plan with reasonable rates for calling other countries.
For school, you will probably need a computer. A laptop is very useful because you can take it with you to the library or a café to study. Again, it would be best to buy this in the U.S. For one thing, you can be sure that your computer will work with accessories like printers that you buy there. At the beginning of the school year, many schools have deals with computer companies that give students discounts on computers. Almost every dorm has free high-speed internet, and most campuses have wireless networks. Email is a great way to keep in touch with everyone at home. There are also some very cheap internet phone systems.
A few things you need for your dorm can be bought cheaply in the U.S., at stores like Wal-Mart or Target. These things are:
- Wearing flip-flops in the shower
- A shower caddy or plastic container to carry your soap, toothbrush, shampoo, etc. to the bathroom.
- A bright lamp to help you study
You can make sure you have everything you need when you go to the bathroom by putting your toiletries in a plastic shower caddie or another container. To avoid getting athlete’s foot, an itchy rash that is common in dorm bathrooms, you must wear flip-flops in the shower.
When you’re in the college dorm party, don’t forget about fire safety. Find out where the nearest stairs and emergency exits are. Be careful if you burn candles or incense in your room, and never leave them alone.
In most American universities, your first year is when you have to learn how to get along with a hard roommate. One survey found that 25% of new college students think that their roommate was the worst choice that could have been made. If you did the same survey in the first month, it’s likely that 75% of people would say they hated their roommate.
Roommates at different schools are paired up in different ways. At one time, Stanford University used to put people in rooms together who were taking the same classes. The idea was that two people who studied engineering or sociology would have a lot in common. Now, Stanford does the exact opposite. They put people in the same room who are interested in different things on purpose so that students can hear different points of view.
At Harvard, students fill out a lengthy housing questionnaire. Their parents are also asked to write an honest letter about what their child does and how they live. What’s up? Officials at the university found that students don’t always see themselves as they really are. Her parents say that someone who says she is easy-going might actually be a diva. His mother thinks that a person who calls himself a “neatnik” might really be a slob.