Dorm life is something you expect to be an experience that represents a coming of age, a milestone in life that marks leaving the family home and taking responsibility for yourself properly for the first time in your life. While some kids grow up doing many of the chores around the house, others have almost everything done for them. When you get to halls of residence for the first time, those two groups will be clearly separated – those that have the skills to get by will find things relatively straightforward other than feeling a little homesick. The rest will turn to beans on toast and wonder who’s coming to do the laundry for at least a week until the penny drops.
In the first few weeks, dorms tend to be party central, with loud music being enjoyed by pretty much everyone on every corridor until the early hours. However, as the focus inevitably turns to attending lectures and study, even the biggest party animals tend to feel the effects of burning the candle at both ends.
This tends to be a make or break point for some students, particularly those that lack the confidence to be assertive with their peers. When sleep begins to become a desperate commodity, some of us collapse, others get irritable and there’s a few who simply give up. They tend to have vanished from the realms of higher education by about six week’s into the fresher’s year, never to be seen again. For the rest of us – it’s time to learn a few lessons in diplomacy.
For example, there was one girl on our block that came from a fairly working class home. Her dad was a builder, and had given her his work stereo to use while she was away at uni. If you’ve not seen one of these gargantuan monstrosities before, they’re designed to be used outdoors. It appeared that she had literally no idea just how loud this thing was, with local radio blaring out until at least midnight most evenings, and occasionally at weekends until 3am, which could be even louder if she’s just got in from her night out drinking.
Now, I’m not saying the occasional evening of loud music is unreasonable – far from it, but with the student hall walls being made from something akin to paper, I wasn’t the only one feeling that I was rapidly nearing breaking point. As I said, it appeared that she was blissfully unaware of the bad feeling slowly building up in the building – and that was nicely reflected in the horrified expression on her face when I invited her down to my room to see just how well sound travels. In this case – it was as simple as that, although I suspect she was feeling rather embarrassed for much longer than she wanted to let on!
So, the moral of the story is to remember that you might have moved out of the hotel of mum and dad, but you’re still staring living quarters, and quite possibly with much less tolerant people than your own family. At home with blood relatives, arguments tend to be forgotten very quickly indeed, whereas with your new studious neighbours, the same may not be true.