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Surviving Dorm Life

Posted by: | June 18, 2009 | 1 Comment |

By Kerry Sheats, Broadside Copy Chief

For those of us who left the choosing of a roommate up to pure chance, here are a few tips on getting along with the person with whom you will be living for the next eight or so months.

Get in touch with your roommate via e-mai, phone or Facebook as soon as possible. StudentWeb, gives you your roommate’s name and George Mason University e-mail address. Introducing yourself and exchanging your general likes and dislikes allows you to address any concerns that you think will arise in the future. Between the two of you (or however many people with whom you are sharing a room), decide who will be bringing what before move-in day. It can be unbelievably annoying to arrive at your residence hall and have two televisions and no refrigerator. Speaking of move-in day, it may also be helpful to find out an approximate time of you and your roommate’s arrival.

After the dust of moving in settles, it is time to lay down some ground rules. Many “rules” and concerns will be addressed in a roommate contract, but be sure to be specific and honest, as this contract is signed by all roommates and will not change unless all roommates agree to the changes. Some things to discuss with your roommate include approximate times you will wake, study and sleep, when guests are allowed and preferences when it comes to sharing food, appliances or movies.

One concern of many students involves their significant others. This can be a tricky subject for many roommates to tackle, given the diverse religions, beliefs and morals of students. Some roommates do not mind having someone else’s significant other in the room, while other students would prefer for visitation to occur outside of their room. Whatever your preference, make sure that you communicate it to your roommate. This communication may also include a “signal” that lets your roomie know that you have company. A signal can be anything from a text saying “John is over and will leave around 4 p.m. Can you find somewhere else to hang out until then?” to a rubber band or necktie on the doorknob.

Above all else, remember that all roommates have equal rights to the room—you all paid the same amount, after all. As such, remember to respect each other’s space. If conflicts do arise, talk to your roommate and try to resolve the issue. If this does not work, see if your resident advisor can help improve the situation.

Check out a video about the Student Media Staff’s dorm experience.

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 By Brittany Rouse, Broadside Staff Writer

When it comes to preparing to leave home for college, one of the most important things for incoming freshmen is decorating their dorm. Residential dorms provide basic furniture such as bureaus, desks and a bed, but it is up to the occupant to make the room feel like home. To get started, check the newspaper for upcoming sales on items such as towels, sheets and a comforter (twin-size, extra long) and picture frames. Many stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and department stores like Macy’s or JCPenney feature an entire line of dorm items that usually go on sale throughout the summer.

 You will need to bring basic items such as a pillow, bedding, towels and a lamp or two. According to the George Mason  University housing website, the following items are prohibited: pets (besides fish in tanks smaller than 10 gallons), candles and incense, halogen lamps, water beds, refrigerators larger than 118 volts, fireworks, extension cords and drug-related paraphernalia. 

Once the basic items have been covered, it is time to get creative. Throughout the summer, be sure to take pictures with friends and family that you can then put up in your dorm. Target and Wal-Mart are great places to cheaply print out pictures and purchase frames. 

A cheap way to make a small, bland dorm room seem cozy is to put things on the wall like posters or pictures. Mason usually has a poster sale early in each semester in the Johnson Center. Whatever you do, beware of tape or sticky tack. You will feel the wrath of a RA if you try to check out for the summer and have left places on the wall where the paint has been torn off by tape. Use adhesive that is specifically made to easily attach to posters or frames and leave the walls in good condition. 

Because dorms are notoriously small, it is best to stay as organized as possible. Bed Bath and Beyond and Target have great solutions, such as crates, over-the-door shoe holders and desk organizers. Consider buying a dry-erase calendar to help keep track of due dates for classes. 

Keep the small size of your new dorm room in mind when packing up to leave home. Do not make the typical freshman mistake of bringing everything you own. Pack only clothes and shoes that you know you will wear, and remember that you can always bring more to school the next time you go home.

Freshman year will be one of the most interesting, fun, stressful and scary years of your college experience. With the pressure that comes with starting college and leaving home, it is important to create a dorm space that is cozy and comfortable.

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