Whether you’re moving into the dorm as a freshman or a senior looking for a nice house near campus, chances are you’ll be living with roommates. There are very few college students living alone, mostly because it’s too expensive. In college towns, rent for an individual apartment can run as high as $750 a month. It may not sound like a lot, and it may not be if your parents are paying for it, but for most students $750 a month is unreasonable. The solution to lower the rent is to live 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. Part I will discuss life in the dorms, while Part II will discuss life after the dorms.

Having just graduated from college in April 2005, I consider myself an expert on college life. Not much has changed in the few months I’ve been on my own. I’m living alone for the first time in my life and let me tell you, it’s quite different than being in college.

Most students begin their college experience living in the dorms. When I moved, I chose to live in an old dormitory. Twenty strange 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, oven, some capes, and a television. It’s not the same as living at home with your own bedroom and bathroom. Most of the dormitories (at least the old ones) do not have individual rooms. Everyone has a roommate, and sometimes there are triples in a room. Most schools give you the option to choose your roommate or randomly assign you one. My first year, I would like to live with a friend. Make sure you are good friends with this person or else they may end up wanting to kill each other. I have so many friends who ended up hating their roommates. They were friends on the outside, but in the room it was hell.

I was lucky in the first semester of university. I got along with my roommate for the most part. We led different lives, which was good. I was on the meal plan and he was not. We take different classes at different times and hang out with different people too. In my opinion, this is how 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 dorms I’m talking about are the ones that are about 12×12 with two single beds and two desks and enough standing space. New age dorms where people have their own rooms and bathrooms are totally different.) My roommate friend ended up transferring to a new school after our first semester for various reasons. I thought he had done it in the shade. Wouldn’t the school know? Would I get the room to myself? The answer was no.

Enter Kraut (my new roommate from Germany). He was American, but he grew up in Germany on a military base. This was one of the best and worst college experiences. Living with a complete stranger who is the complete opposite of you. This is every incoming freshman’s worst nightmare. Andrew (who 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 roommates kicked him out of a triple dorm. wow. After living with him for a semester, I know why he was expelled.

First of all, I was in 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 am every morning to go for a run with that squad, that’s when I start to lose my mind. His alarm went off at 3:45 am every day and he would sleep for about 30 minutes. I never went to class so he was there to pester me at all my free time. He played Counter-Strike (which I’m sure you all know what it is. Counter-Strike is a terrorist/anti-terrorist video game). He played it all night with the loud sound. You’d think my bedroom was a war zone. I tried to take him with me, or have lunch with him in the cafeteria, but I just couldn’t take it. I learned a lot from Kraut and will never forget him. My most memorable moment is when I turned up the volume on my PC and played the theme song from Salute Your Shorts right into his ear while he was sleeping. I captured everything on video. He dismissed me and went to bed. I haven’t seen Kraut since I moved out of the dormitory.

Some pros and cons of living in dorms (again, I’m talking about old dorms, not apartment-style ones).

Pro – Right on campus. You can get up 5 minutes before class and walk there in your boxer shorts.

Pro – Right on campus. Food is close by (especially if you’re on a dining plan).

Pro-social life. You meet a lot of new people who live in the dorms. Some become friends for life. Dorms often have mini-parties and socials where everyone hangs out.

Pro – It’s new. College is all about experiencing new things. The dream life is one of them.

Pro – It’s cheap. It is not as expensive as renting an apartment.

Pro: It’s very easy to find dating games for sports.

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 brand new. People were downloading music back and forth on the high-speed network and sharing music like you’d never seen it. And as far as we knew, it was all legal.)

With – Without privacy. People will 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 trouble breathing.

Con – The bedrooms are very small. You will not be able to fit everything you have in your closet.

Con: Having annoying roommates that you can’t do anything with.

Scam: Internet firewall. Some dorms are very strict now about what you can and cannot do on the school internet. Sorry guys, you can’t download music here.

Con – Cooking food can be a big problem. You have no fridge or oven in your room.

With – Insects and rats. Depending on how old your bedroom is (I think mine was built in the 1940s), you may find rodents running around. We had a rat problem one week. I saw one run across my bedroom floor 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]


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