Dorm dynamics

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August 29, 2007

12:24 PM

Welcome to Williamsburg in August. It’s hot. It’s muggy. You likely don’t have central air conditioning. And you thought college would be paradise away from home.

p. The truth is, it will. But I hate to be the one to tell you it likely won’t start out that way. You’ve been thrust into a very new situation, and over the next few days, you’ll be feeling out your new hallmates, participating in mixers with people whose names you won’t remember and learning all over again that underage drinking is bad.

p. By now you’ll have met those chipper upperclassmen in the bright yellow T-shirts commonly referred to as Orientation Aides. Get to know them, as they will likely be the first friends you make outside your hall. And don’t worry if you can’t remember the name of that kid you “met” playing Train Wreck or at CU at the UC. No one actually enjoys those activities during orientation, and it is my sneaking suspicion that they are really an attempt to facillitate bonding within your own hall as you commiserate about how stupid they are.

p. The key to making the most of your orientation experience is to open yourself up to meeting new people. It’s probably been at least four years since you encountered so many new faces, so don’t shut yourself off. Keep your dorm room door open to encourage visitors and take a stroll to the water fountain to see who is hanging around.

p. The point is to get to know the people on your hall, because they will create a base group of friends that will help make the transition to college significantly easier. Most people find themselves staying close with a good number of people from their freshman halls throughout their time at the College.

p. Conversely, as important as it is to become friendly with your new neighbors, it’s also good to avoid awkward situations. Of course, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that you are unlikely to make it through a full semester, let alone the year, without embarrassing yourself. You’re bound to accidentally see a roommate naked, stumble in on a compromising situation or slip on some wet bricks in front of countless classmates — consider that a warning, by the way. But what you can try to avoid is alienating people on your hall. Disagreements are bound to happen, but don’t let them escalate to the point that you are going down the back stairs to avoid running into a certain person.

p. Also, avoid hallcest. If you are unfamiliar, hallcest is a dorm phenomenon that occurs when two hallmates hook up, usually in an altered state of awareness (and haven’t you learned that underage drinking is bad?). These temporary hook-ups are tempting given the proximity of the partner and the fact that you probably already know the person. But these encounters are hard to live down when they don’t work out. Plus, they make things awkward for both the people directly involved as well as with others on the hall.

p. I promise that the Orientation period will pass, and that you will come to feel less like a tourist and more like a student at the College. You will make friends and college life will be everything it is made out to be. But until that time, keep this information in mind:

p. 1. Chanello’s Pizza is open until 3 a.m.
2. Wawa is always a good decision.
3. Be careful with the orientation adjective game. Embarrassing adjectives have a tendency to stick.

p. __Chase Johnson is a senior at the College.__

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