Lessons learned from dorm living

Oh, dorm living: a luxurious college accommodation complete with the confinements of cream-colored walls and wood-painted furniture.  A place where creativity thrives in magazine cutouts, a desperate assortment of posters and, without fail, Christmas lights. Oh, how our youthful high school selves dreamt of entering college and receiving the key to a personal place of tranquility: our dorm room.

We all know that dorm life is second worst to living in the fiery domains of hell. By my own misfortune, I’ve been cursed with life behind brown doors for three consecutive years now. It’s true, just like you, I’ve dealt with Target futons, closet space fit for a small child, and showering in a 2’ x 2’ box.  But let’s be honest, dorm living is part of the “college experience.” While living in a college dorm room can be horrifying, it taught me some valuable lessons to carry with me into post-college years of more, let’s say, modern ways of living.

1. Simplicity is less stress. My sophomore year of college I decided that stuffing my entire life into my SUV was necessary. While packing, I had a lot of, ‘What if…?’ moments— these are dangerous. I brought unnecessary things like three shelving units, eight blankets and a medicine box that could have treated my entire building in a time of crisis. (I usually get sick twice a year, tops.) Well, moving out of my dorm room that year took four hours, people were looking at me like I was insane and I learned a valuable lesson: having less is having less to worry about.

2. Respect (given and received) is to be valued. This year, in addition to my third floor dorm assignment, I have been blessed with living directly across from the fraternities. Through all hours of the night I’ve enjoyed blaring dub step, fireworks, one guy’s very vulgar rant about capitalists (who knows) and watching one poor fellow tumble face-first into the snow.

While otherwise not having any problem with living in a dorm, R.A. and Portland junior, Victoria Sochor feels my pain.

“There are situations where you might be made familiar with certain quirks or habits of your room/hall/floor/building mates when you would rather not be,” Sochor said.

Living in dorms made me realize how important it is to respect other people and their hours of sleep, study or alone time.

3. Choosing the right roommate or no roommate at all is crucial. After living in dorms, we gain a solid idea of whom it is we get along living with or whether we can tolerate living with anyone at all. By my junior year, I realized that having my own bedroom was absolutely vital. I was too busy running around all day to not have a quiet, solitary room to return to by the end of the night in order to regain my sanity. Living alone isn’t for everyone, however.

“I think living alone would get too lonely,” said Carter Elliot, Bloomfield Hills junior.

While I hope to never share a bunk bed again, affording an apartment in my twenties may not be feasible on my own. College taught me that getting along with people and getting along with people we live with are two completely different animals.


Dorm living in college might be a dreaded by most but it has taught me important lessons about independent living I otherwise wouldn’t have gained. Besides, it’s just a small stint in our lives. Royal Oak senior Austin Bateman reiterated this same point while discussing his experience in dorms.

“I’ll have to live in an apartment or house for the rest of my life,” Bateman said. “I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything I won’t get the opportunity to do later in life.”

Photo by Alexa Hyman

About Alexa Hyman 29 Articles
Alexa Hyman is a senior from Chicago, Ill., studying Business and Professional Writing. You're likely to find her in another country, listening to Bob Dylan or sniffing the pages of old books in the campus library.

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