College students living on campus need to adjust to a life spent mostly in dorm rooms, lecture halls, the library, and walking around campus. But they also need to adjust to that hallmark of dorm life: the communal bathroom. It’s a pretty dramatic departure from whatever routine you’d established up to this point, unless you grew up in a home with a couple dozen siblings.
Your normal college prep materials tend to do very little to brace you for the dorm bathroom experience. Most lists you see focus on the obvious: laptop, extra-long sheets, desk lamp, laundry detergent, etc. But you often don’t get much of a bathroom-related inventory, except for, once again, the obvious choices: soap, shampoo, towels.
Here’s a list of the ten adjustments you’ll need to make when moving into a dorm.
- Buy a shower caddy. Of course you’ll need to bring along your normal list of toiletries, but you can’t just leave them sitting in the shower like you do at home. Unless you want soap scum on whatever drawer or closet you hide your shower stuff in, life will be much easier if you just bring a big plastic carrying case.
- Cover yourself. While guys’ bathrooms can sometimes be a little more accommodating to simply wrapping yourself in a towel, the girls should certainly invest in a decent bathrobe. The key here is to only take into the shower something you can hang up. I guarantee that you do not want to just drop your dirty clothes on the floor like you do at home, at least not if you ever intend to wear them again.
- Definitely cover your feet. Waterproof flip-flops are your friend. The stuff everyone else in your hall just washed off themselves on to the shower floor is not.
- Clean up after yourself. Ladies, I really and truly feel for you on this one, because while we men deservedly have a worse reputation in terms of bodily fuctions, you all tend to leave a wider path of destruction when getting ready. Whatever bits of debris, lotions, or just puddles of water you leave behind need to be cleaned up. That goes double for hair…
- Hair clogs drains. No matter what, you’ll lose some hair when you shower. Now multiply that by the 20+ other people who need to hop into the same set of showers each day. Drains get clogged fast, and it’s your responsibility to pick up what you leave behind.
- Pee does not go on there. You’d think this one would be limited to guys’ bathrooms, but I’ve heard numerous reports that indicate otherwise. I hope I don’t have to remind anyone reading this article of how toilets work, so instead, I’ll just advise you all to remain ever-vigilant of the not-as-rare-as-it-should-be misfire. Tilt your head to see if you can catch a reflection in a puddle at a different angle. You want to watch what you sit and step in.
- Throw out all used toilet paper, even the stuff you didn’t technically “use.” This one kind of baffles me, but it happens so often in all types of public restrooms that apparently someone has a problem remembering. Somewhere in the process of removing paper from roll, a chunk of paper comes loose and floats to the floor. Please pick it up and get rid of it yourself. You can always wash your hands after.
- Get a sense of the busiest times and avoid them. Each term, as your fellow dormmates are adjusting to their new schedules, you will find certain little pockets of time where it seems like everybody and his/her roommate are showering at once. Identify those times and stay far, far away from them. Even if you have to change your personal schedule, you’ll be much happier not competing with a dozen peers every morning for grooming time.
- If you don’t have to do it in the bathroom, don’t do it in the bathroom. Growing up, most people see the bathroom as a place for privacy. That all goes out the window the minute you move into a dorm. So if there’s any aspect of your day — drying your hair, clipping your nails, putting on makeup, whatever — that doesn’t absolutely require a shower, toilet, or sink, you’re better off staying out of everyone else’s way.
- Be ready for things that don’t make sense. Bathrooms are primarily places for necessities. However, when they’re in close proximity to a large number of people in the middle of their terrible-decision-making prime, they become places for just about everything else. One night in my freshman year of college, I woke up at around 3-4 am to use the bathroom, then, while washing my hands, noticed something dark and green behind me in reflection. A Christmas tree had been planted and held upright in the toilet, with a little support from the sides of the stall.