For many incoming freshmen, emotions run high as they begin that first year of college. Freshman year marks an exciting first step away from the family unit, but for many, college also means a separation from friends and relationships often ten or 15 years in the making. Luckily, RAs (resident advisors) and college housing coordinators make it their mission to ensure that first-year students don't get the opportunity to feel the sting of homesickness.
First, contrary to what the occasional horror film plot and pop culture trope might have you believe, you may actually like your roommate. Most universities conduct a thorough screening and survey process to match incoming residents based on study habits, cleanliness and a variety of key personality traits. Sure, not every pairing is perfect, but many dorm-dwellers end up living with their first- and second-year roommates off campus as upperclassmen even after moving out of the dorms.
Second, there's never a shortage of activities to try. Feeling lonely on your first Saturday away from home? Many RAs plan at least a full week of daily or nightly outings (ice cream socials, trivia nights, campus tours, karaoke and dinner parties, to name a few) to help new or first-year students acclimate to their new living space and bond with other residents.
Finally, you're in pretty close quarters with a bunch of people who are all on the same new, rocky, scary and exciting ride as you are. If you just moved to an apartment in a new city, you'd be on your own to find the best local hangouts (and the best people with which to frequent them), and there's very little that's more awkward and off-putting than going solo into a brand-new social situation. Dorms provide a built-in social network of people who are just as displaced as you are -- a perfect base for building friendships and mastering the ins and outs of college life. Not only that, but your RA has done all of this before, and he or she can offer some pro tips as you get used to your new home and lifestyle.
But college isn't just about having fun on the weekends. Read on to find out how dorm life can help you fit into the college community and why you should always keep some face paint handy.