Dormitory life can be fun, but it is also wearing, and often inconvenient and uncomfortable. While the comradeship and companionship of living together are wonderful, and the friendships thus formed can last a lifetime, the rigors of sharing such limited resources can be a serious distraction. After all, the main reason to be at college is to learn. If you are miserable, you will not be able to study and do well in your classes, and that is not at all what your family has intended for you. Let’s see what sorts of discommodious miseries the dormitory has in store for prospective occupants.
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Everything in a dorm is shared. This means EVERYTHING. Your toilet seat, the sink surround, the counter, the toilet paper roll, the door of the stall, the shower floor, and all the surfaces; all used by as many people as are in your dorm.
Once upon a time, when dorms were universally single-sex, one could count on only ladies or only gentlemen using the facilities. Now, with coed dorms, there is often some sort of arrangement that switches boys and girls bathrooms depending on the hour, the day, the week, or some other criterion. Thus, you may be using a bathroom that was just previously used by the other gender.
This has terrors for both sexes. Men tend to spray when using the toilet. They have lots more body hair to clog up the shower drain. Their shaving can leave little bits around the sink in a black scum of soap and hair particles. They smell stronger, for the most part.
Women, on the other hand, often shave many more areas of the body, and that hair tends to be even stronger than beard hair. Women’s hair is often longer (although this certainly depends!) and when it clogs up the drain, it can cause a major hairball. There are times when the disposal of certain female products can also clog up even the best functioning toilets, and if a dormitory toilet is over-taxed, the extra load will be its downfall. Although men tend to smell sweaty, women can hold their own in the odor-production department, especially when pheromonal interaction entrains all of them into a common monthly cycle, a phenomenon known for millennia, but now termed the McClintock Effect.
The showers in a dorm are certainly not going to be the handheld conveniences that some students are accustomed to at home. Additionally, there is always some joker who uses dorm showers like gym equipment and tries to chin (usually) himself on the showerheads. This shortens their useful lifespan dramatically.
If there is some sort of common kitchen area, the counters are going to be only as clean as they were left by the last person who used them. Students, always with the best of intentions, start cooking projects and then fall asleep, get a phone call, get immersed in an assignment or cramming for a test, or become involved in a deep discussion with a schoolmate. Food is left to burn and stick on the pot or left out to fester for hours, or sometimes days. Items left in a common fridge can grow into classic lab experiments for the discovery of new forms of antibiotics.
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Groceries left in the fridge are subject to use and misuse by anyone else who has access to them. While you might never consider sticking a used spoon into a jar of jelly, someone else might and leave no note to indicate that they had done so.
Common fridges suffer other risks, as well. A wheel of Raclette cheese lovingly carried back from Europe after winter break and housed in one dorm fridge, imparted to everything stored there the distinct fragrance of old socks. While the cheese melted dreamily over potatoes to create a classic Swiss dish, and the owner of the stinky cheese was very generous in offering to share, the smell was so overpowering that some students felt they had to find other quarters. The Raclette enthusiast is now long since tragically died from an accident on the Autobahn that summer, but his former dorm-mates recall the smell of foot odor pouring out of the refrigerator door to this day.
And foot odor is but one of the real smells that shared space involves. If one’s room-mate is less than fastidious about laundry (or gets behind during periods of stress), the pong of dirty clothes can make a small room seem even smaller. Any personal parasite that one room-mate has, that may be trapped in dirty clothes or bed linens, is going to be shared, in all likelihood, by the other.
Apart from downright dirt and odor, the small space of dorm rooms also means that you share mess. The disorder of one room-mate will be visible and perceptible to the other unless the arrangement is a suite with separate rooms. This can be very distracting, and for some people whose brains are wired differently, it interferes with their thinking.