I remember my first day of college and dorm living like it was yesterday. My parents drove me to my new campus, carried my boxes and bins up to the third floor of my building, and helped me unpack. They helped me set up my mini fridge and put sheets on my loft bed, all while we patiently waited for my roommates to arrive. For the entirety of my freshmen year, I would be living in a quad — which meant I was going from zero roommates to four. Don't get me wrong — I was so excited. But I was also a little nervous because I liked my "me time" and wasn't quite ready to give it up. Can you say the same? Of course. That's why you're looking for some tips for dorm living if you like your space that'll help you get some much-needed alone time.
TBH, it's easier to enjoy your own space in college than you may think. Especially once classes and extracurriculars start, and you get into your new routines, you'll find there are hours of time when you can listen to your podcasts and Netflix shows. You can eat your snacks without your new besties asking if they can have some, and blast the latest album from Taylor Swift without anybody saying, "Can you turn that down?"
The key is to find those periods and use them wisely. In addition, you have to embrace these tips for dorm living that are tried and true.
1. Hang Out At A Cute Café Or Coffee Shop
First things first: As much as you're going to love your dorm room and want to spend time there, a really easy way to get some space in college is to hang out at a cute café or coffee shop. It allows you to read your favorite books, catch up on YouTube, or get your assignments done in a brand new and cozy atmosphere. The best part? It's so Instagram-worthy.
You'll start by tracking down a good spot for caffeine on your campus, or an eatery with delicious sandwiches that's nearby. You'll place an order, find a table or couch to settle into, and pull out your laptop and other belongings. You'll grab a few pictures of your iced matcha and post them on Instagram with a caption like, "I like big cups and I cannot lie." Then, you'll put in your headphones and dive head-first into your own little corner of the world. I'm feeling more zen just thinking about it. Aren't you?
2. Make Your Side Of The Room Feel Like Home
Arguably one of the best parts of dorm living is picking out decor and cozy items for your space. It's just so exciting to walk down the aisles of Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, and recreate the images you saved on Pinterest. You get a rush every time you find a pillow, duvet cover, or full-length mirror that completes your vision.
Not to mention, it makes your little corner of a room feel more like, well, home. The photographs of palm trees make you feel like you're still in your family's beach house on the West Coast, and the peachy baskets in your closet may mentally transport you to your old bathroom.
Details like that can be so #necessary and essential to finding "me time" in a college dorm, even when there are other people in the room. They wrap you up in what you know and love, and bring you peace-of-mind.
3. Find A Go-To Study Spot On Campus
Over my college years, I found that having a go-to study spot on campus made my living situation so much better. It took the pressure off of me and my roommates to be quiet at particular times of the day, and allowed me to stay focused and driven. It also gave me space from dirty dishes and the occasional bit of drama — which can make you feel like you really need some "me" time.
If you like your space, then you should consider finding a study spot on campus, too. You should roam the halls of your library or school, and find a table with an outlet and lots of room to lay out your books. Ideally, it should be a short distance away from the printer and the vending machine.
Then, every time you need some alone time or to tackle your to-do list, you should go to this spot. Your mind and soul will instantly feel calm, cool, and refreshed.
4. Post Your Schedules On The Wall
Every semester, my roommates and I posted our schedules on a wall in our dorm room. It was our way of letting each other know when we were in class, at meetings for extracurriculars, or going to be "home." It was also a great reference point when you wanted to know when you'd have some space to yourself, and when you'd be sharing the couch with your besties.
We'd all chill together and write down our weekly plans for Monday through Friday. We'd watch Friends, Parks and Recreation, or a show on Food Network while we did it. It brought us closer, while also establishing that we each really needed and wanted some "me time."
Truth is, you're not alone in your feelings one bit, and your roommates likely want some time to themselves, too. So, get into this habit and make your living situation so ideal.
5. Plan For Group Dinners And Activities
Last but not least, planning for group dinners and activities is a perfect solution to finding a balance between alone time and roommate time in college. It allows you to bond with and get to know the people you live with, while also giving you space to look forward to. That's essential — especially when you're experiencing college and everything that comes with it for the first time.
I know the art history classes and sorority meet-and-greets can be overwhelming at times. They can make you feel like you're a fish out-of-water, or like you desperately need to be by yourself.
If you find yourself in that situation, knowing that you have familiar faces and some relaxation in your schedule can make college feel more like home. It can make dorm living so much easier, and help you enjoy every minute of this exciting adventure.