Whether you are moving into the dorm as a freshman or a senior looking for a nice house near campus, chances are you are living with roommates. There are very few university students who live alone, mainly because it is too expensive. In college towns, rent for a single apartment can go up to $ 750 a month. It might not sound like a lot, and it might not be if your parents are paying for it, but for most students $ 750 a month is unreasonable. The solution to reducing the rent is living with roommates. In this article I’ll talk about the pros and cons of living with roommates, how to find roommates, and share some of my experiences along the way. This will be a two-part post due to its length. The first part will talk about life in the bedrooms, while the second part will talk about life after the bedrooms.
Since I graduated from college in April 2005, I consider myself an expert on college life. Not much has changed in the few months that I have been alone. I am living alone for the first time in my life and let me tell you that it is very different from being in college.
Most students begin their college experience living in the dormitories. When I moved in, I chose to live in an older bedroom. Twenty odd rooms on the floor with a large common bathroom. The boys section was separated from the girls section by a living room / kitchen with a stove, an oven, some capes and a television. It is not the same as living at home with your own bedroom and bathroom. Most of the dormitories (at least the older ones) do not have individual rooms. Everyone has a roommate and sometimes there are triples in a room. Most schools give you the option of choosing your roommate or having one assigned to you at random. In my first year, I chose to live with a friend. Make sure you are a good friend to this person or else you may end up wanting to kill each other. I have so many friends that they ended up hating their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but in the room it was hell.
I was lucky during the first semester of college. I got along well with my roommate for the most part. We lead different lives, which was a good thing. I was on the meal plan and he wasn’t. We took different classes at different times and we also dated different people. In my opinion, that’s the way it has to be if you choose to live with a friend. You can’t be too close or your friendship will fall apart. (Note that the bedrooms I’m talking about are about 12×12 with two single beds and two desks and enough space to stand. New age bedrooms where people have their own bedrooms and bathrooms are totally different). Who I shared a room with ended up transferring to a new school after our first semester for various reasons. I thought I had done it in the shade. Wouldn’t the school know? Would I keep the room to myself? The answer was no.
Enter Kraut (my new roommate from Germany). He was an American, but grew up in Germany on a military base. This was one of the best and worst experiences in college. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. This is the worst nightmare of every incoming freshman. Andrew (whom I referred to as Kraut … please don’t be offended by this. It was just a friendly joke between us) moved in with me because his previous mates kicked him out of a triple bedroom. Wow. After living with him for a semester, I know why he was rejected.
First of all, I was in the ROTC. I have nothing against being a proud American and wanting to serve in the military, but when you have to get up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to go running with that squad, that’s when I start to lose control. His alarm went off at 3:45 am every day and he slept for about 30 minutes. He never went to class, so he was there to annoy me all my free time. He played Counter-Strike (which I’m sure you all know what it is. Counter-Strike is a terrorist / counter-terrorist video game). He played it all night long with the sound up high. You would think my bedroom was a war zone. I tried to take him with me or have lunch with him in the cafeteria, but I couldn’t bear it. I learned a lot from Kraut and will never forget it. My most memorable moment is when I turned the volume all the way up on my PC and blast the Salute Your Shorts track right into his ear while he was sleeping. I captured it all on video. He rejected me and went to bed. I haven’t seen Kraut since I moved out of the dorm.
Some pros and cons of living in the bedrooms (again, I’m talking about the old-fashioned bedrooms, not the apartment-style ones).
Pro – Right on campus. You can get up 5 minutes before class and walk around in your underwear.
Pro – Right on campus. Food is nearby (especially if you have a meal plan).
Pro – Social life. You meet a lot of new people who live in the bedrooms. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini-parties and social events where everyone hangs out.
Pro: it’s new. College is about experiencing new things. Living in the bedrooms is one of them.
Pro: it’s cheap. It is not as expensive as renting an apartment.
Pro: It is very easy to find sports games to collect.
Pro: there is an Ethernet computer network. High speed internet access and everyone is connected. Awesome for playing video games. (When I was a freshman, things like Napster were completely new. People downloaded music from left to right on the high-speed network and shared music like they had never seen it before. And as far as we knew, it was all legal.)
Con: No privacy. People will just randomly enter your room. Keep it closed.
Con: Dirty old bedrooms are no fun. I got sick once a month living there. I still have breathing problems.
Con – Bedrooms are very small. You won’t be able to fit everything you have in your closet.
Disadvantage: having annoying roommates you can’t do anything about.
With: Internet firewall. Some dorms are now very strict about what you can and cannot do on the school internet. Sorry guys, you can’t download music here.
Disadvantage: cooking food can be a big problem. You don’t have a fridge or oven in your room.
Featuring: bugs and rats. Depending on how old your bedroom is (mine was built in the 40’s I think), you might find rodents running around. We had a problem with rats for a week. I saw one run across the floor of my room and then it disappeared into the wall.
Well that’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow (or Monday) for Part II of College Roommates. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]