All throughout high school, especially senior year, we fall into the Pinterest board rabbit hole of perfectly decorated dorm rooms and glorified healthy dining hall meals. We are given this false sense of what college life is really like, in addition to how much freedom and ease really does come with it.
From the dorm rooms to the food options to the lengthy walks around campus, we had it all wrong. Who let us believe that this transition would be a piece of cake?
In my own experience, I remember sitting in my silent COVID-19 study hall making a Pinterest board of what I wanted my dorm room to look like. Little did I know that I would be living in what was essentially a shoebox that was being ventilated with recycled air from the surrounding dorms.
I arrived on move-in day, equipped with more command strips than you can imagine, only to find out I wasn’t allowed to hang my Pinterest-inspired wall decor unless I used one of the five or six “S-hooks” the school provided us with. After unpacking and decorating that day, I was forced to send back multiple IKEA bags with my parents due to lack of the space I thought I would have. A rude awakening, to say the least.
Not only has the black mold in Peabody Hall spoiled dorm life for me here so far, but the long walk to go anywhere from my dorm has also contributed to the frustration. Just to get from Peabody to Armstrong or Academic Quad, I have to set aside 20-30 minutes for my walk.
I spend most of my time sitting in Armstrong or King Library in between classes just to avoid getting all sweaty and gross from the walk to go back to my dorm.
And to think I thought my seven-minute walk to school back in high school was bad.
During the process of choosing a school to attend in the fall, everyone is so set on who their roommate is going to be, how they'll decorate the dorm to match and how much fun they’re going to have together. It’s not a party 24/7 like you may think, especially in the eyes of those who have never had to share a room with someone before.
Sharing a dorm is a rude awakening, as everyone has different class schedules, sleep schedules, study habits and overall life routines. Though you may try so desperately to be best friends with your “roomie,” there's no way to tell how you'll live with someone just by talking to them via the Facebook page.
We romanticize this overall idea of freedom and not having our parents around to tell us what to do all the time, but with that comes the independent responsibility to eat healthy, keep our spaces clean and keep our grades up. So, that Pinterest-inspired dorm – that's also your responsibility to clean and organize. No one is coming in to pick up dirty clothes or wash dirty dishes.
When it comes to the dining hall, it's up to us to choose the healthier options instead of just going right for the pizza every night. Your mom isn’t going to be right there to slap you on the wrist and direct you towards the grilled chicken and rice instead. Sure, you can always find ways to spice up dining hall food to make it more enjoyable and healthy, but all I know is how much I miss my mom’s cooking and my biweekly Trader Joe's trips.
Along the lines of freedom and not having parents around, we count down the days until we’re on campus without a curfew and can hang out with friends all night. As someone who had a strict curfew growing up, I was so excited for this aspect of college life.
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To my surprise, I've often found myself going home early, just from being so drained from the school week and not having any desire to stay out all night.
This goes along the lines of having to be responsible for yourself and staying on top of schoolwork, limiting what days you choose to go see friends and how late you stay out. Though we have the option to go out and have fun every night, we have to face reality and remember why we're even here.
It’s not always fun and games. It's all about balance.