Don't be THAT guy/girl - Dorm Edition

Going into college is a culture shock. Although I went to a diverse and fairly large high school near Chicago, IU was a huge difference. But of course it's a huge difference for anyone going from a school of 1,500 people to nearly 45,000 people. Leaving the bubble that is my hometown to meet and live with people from places I didn't even know existed was something to get used to. The different personalities, the different values, different cultures, the different lifestyles, everything. Things were great, but it wasn't always rainbows and butterflies. Mostly I learned how to get along with others, and I wanted to share with you of the things I've learned on how to be a good floormate/roommate. Here's are the do's and don't's:

DO be THAT guy/girl that keeps their door open

When I was in my room during Welcome Week, I made it a point to keep my door open, so people would feel more welcomed to come in, say hi and introduce themselves. I remember one of my floormates kept their door open, and I came into their room and awkwardly said hi. We then started talking about IU, our rooms, and our first floor meeting. I then had two people besides my roommate to sit by for our first meeting. It works, and it's just a nice way to get to know people. It's an awkward encounter both of you guys can laugh at later on in the year.

Besides going to class, napping or sleeping, there were very few times where I had my door closed. I think this is why a lot of floormates came into my room a lot.

DON'T be the guy/girl who is unapproachable or too shy.

Everyone is shy. Everyone's first year is exciting and nerve-wrecking, and everyone is going through the same feelings, so don't worry! Just say hi! I remember my first week when I just walked past a floormate and we shared an awkward "hey, hi, hello" and smile, looked at the ground and walked away fast. NOW WE'RE BEST FRIENDS:

Started from the bottom.... Now we here.

As I've said before in my other posts, my floormates and I got to be very close with one another, but it was only a few girls. I wasn't close to everyone, and I didn't even say more than hi to some girls on my floor. Not that there was anything wrong with them, it's just how things got to be. There were moments where a floormate and I didn't say anything at all to each other when we passed each other in the hallway, just awkwardly looked at the ground and walked away to our respective places. The unfortunate thing about that was that it just became the norm for some of us, and I felt like it was too late to be friends or to be friendly so it would just be awkward when we passed and it stayed awkward all year. Sitting here now and recalling it, I wish I would've just said hi and started a conversation. 

DO step out of your comfort zone

If you go to a school like IU, there should never be a day where you feel like there's nothing to do. There's always something to do or try! I remember almost not going out to a floor dinner to Anatolia, a Turkish restaurant on 4th Street, during Welcome Week because I was so nervous about having to get to know everyone and I didn't know a thing about Turkish food. Like, what would I order? What's Turkish food even like? What if my floormates end up hating me? What if I have nothing to say? What if I say too much? I ended up going, and I am so glad I did. I got to know a little bit about everyone I lived with, learned a little about Turkish food and found a delicious restaurant that I liked.

If someone invites you to a sporting event, a call-out meeting, whatever, try it! I was really hesitant at first when I was asked to attend a dance workshop because I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of people I didn't know, but I ended up having a great time and I ended up learning a few new moves! You never know what's going to happen, so carpe diem.

DON'T be THAT guy/girl that has to be taken care of... EVERY WEEKEND.

I think a lot of people would agree that one of the best parts about college is the freedom. Unfortunately, there will be people you meet who take their freedom for granted. Everyone is entitled to one bad night, but it gets old having to hold someone's hair back or have to hide someone's phone so they don't call their ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend to yell at them. Not only does it get old, it's also a serious problem. There IS a difference between having a good time and having an addiction, and no one wants to be known as THAT guy/girl that can't control themselves on the weekends. It's also very inconsiderate to expect people to be there to help you every time you do this, and if your floormates/roommate say something to you about it: Don't be angry, be appreciative that they care about you enough to say something.

An excerpt from IU's Alcohol & Drug-Free Campus Policy:

"THERE ARE NO GOOD REASONS FOR USING A DRUG THAT IS NOT PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR OR FOR DRINKING TO EXCESS."

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DO be the person people can talk to/go to

I think everyone should want to be the type of friend that anyone can go to for help with anything. Whether it's help with homework, a shoulder to cry on, a lending ear, etc. College is really fun, but there's also many dark times that come with it, such as homesickness, frustration with school, family/relationship problems, loneliness, drug abuse, etc. It's a lot of heavy stuff and most of the time, we don't know how to deal with it, but most of the time it's not people asking for validation or advice. Sometimes they just want someone to listen to them, and imagine how much it helps when you have someone you can talk to, go to, whatever. Just be supportive, honest and understanding. That's how you save a life.

DON'T be THAT guy/girl that's a mooch.

No, but really. If someone lets you borrow an article of clothing, give it back. If sharing a pizza with someone and they put it all on their card, don't forget to pay them your half. If someone shares their food with you, don't eat it all.  

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It may seem like not a big deal at first, but eventually it adds up. My roommate had a lot of her clothes missing by the end of the year. (SORRY MEGAN, I just found your St. Louis Cardinals shirt in my dresser, but I swear it's all I borrowed and I'll give it back to you WASHED - ASAP.)

Also, always ask and say thank you. Might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised at how often you forget you manners as soon as you get comfortable with people. It's a good/bad thing!

DO be vocal about your problems.

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They say communication save relations.. This doesn't include Tweeting or Facebooking about your problems. If you have an issue or have something you want to say, just say it. I think the main reason why my first roommate and I didn't work out was because there was a lack of communication about our problems. We both should have said something to each other, but we didn't. When we ended up switching roommates, it was just really unnecessarily awkward between us. 

You should be thoughtful, respectful and considerate with what you say and do though. If your roommate or floormate is not respecting your boundaries, speak up and tell them what you'd like to change. If your roommate or floormate is developing a problem, tell them your concerns. 

I'd like to think that I was a good person to live with, but it took a lot of trial & error, and observation of what to do and what not to do. Just be considerate, tolerant, thoughtful. Also, be adventurous, party SMART and GO HOOSIERS!

About The Author
Catherine HuynhJournalism Major, Class of 2016

My name is Catherine Huynh, and I'm currently a junior at the greatest college in the nation -- Indiana University!

I'm currently pursuing degrees in both Journalism and Communication & Culture, along with a minor in Sociology. I am a Campus Representative Intern for VS PINK at Indiana University, serve as Director of Communications for the Public Relations Student Society of America - Beth Wood Chapter, a Student Ambassador for the Department of Journalism, and I'm also a proud student blogger here at We Are IU!

"The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing... and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others."  - Fred Rogers

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