Former residents offer tips on how to live it up in tight spaces

By Mika Mandelbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 25, 2005

When new students confront their fears and the challenges of living in a residence hall, they should learn from the experiences of their predecessors, said former dorm dwellers.

"It's going to be as bad as it's going to be, so there's no use sweating it," said Blake Boyer, an undeclared sophomore. "Just be open to everything and anything."

Concerns among on-campus students range from getting along with a roommate, sharing community bathrooms, gaining weight, making good grades and fitting belongings into small living spaces.

But if students are struggling to make room for everything, former dorm residents advise them to get rid of the unnecessary items.

"You probably don't need everything you have," said Bret Simon, a mechanical engineering sophomore. "I found that out."

Simon said one of the most important lessons first-time students should learn is how to balance independence with responsibility.

"You have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want," Simon said.

"(But) there's a time to party and a time to study, and to become independent, you have to learn that."

Dan Benson, an architecture freshman, said balancing schoolwork with fun could be hard for some students because some residence halls are more prone to "partying" because there are so many people and bedroom doors are often left open.

"I will just have to study when I need to and not get too distracted," Benson said. "I think I have it under control, though."

Another factor of living on campus that students can control is what they eat, though finding appetizing food has been a struggle for some students like Paige Guritzky, an undeclared freshman.

"I've been getting really sick every time I eat," Guritzky said. "I'm not sure I can do the Mexican food thing, being from the East Coast."

But there are ways for students to eat healthy and prevent weight gain, Simon said.

"Don't do what I'm doing right now," he said, while eating Panda Express. "I also think they still have those healthy options brochures around here somewhere."

Students who are worried about getting along with their roommate should relax, Simon said, because most problems can be addressed with communication or a resident assistant.

When Melissa Reyes received her roommate assignment, she said she worried because her roommate was from the East Coast, which is very far and different from her hometown of Yuma.

But after moving in, she found their diversity was a positive thing.

"You can tell there's differences between us, but we complement each other well," said Reyes, a business management freshman.

The lack of personal space is another issue first-time resident students struggle with.

Some students share rooms as small as 125 square feet, according to the Residence Life Web site, which is why Guritzky said her biggest concern was not having enough space.

"Luckily we got one of the biggest rooms," she said about her 230-square-foot room in Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall.

For other students, it's not sharing a room that presents a challenge; it's sharing a bathroom with an entire hall full of people.

All but two of the residence halls at the UA have community style bathrooms, according to the Residence Life Web site.

Simon said long waiting lines to enter community bathrooms and showers eventually tapers off as the semester progresses because everyone has different schedules.

But Reyes said her experience with the resident bathrooms has been positive so far and very different from her expectations.

"I thought it'd be more chaotic in the bathroom in the mornings," Reyes said