Introverts and college – handling dorm life

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As an introvert in college, I really fantasized about having a private room, but that just wasn’t available there, at least back then. I would have rather lived in a room just big enough for my bed than to have a roommate, and I’m sure a lot of introverts can relate to that.

Although I held my first roommate at arm’s length when I first moved to campus, by being nice and pleasant but not really friendly, I also really needed my alone time. This was a tough school, so fortunately we all had to study a lot, but of course everyone has their preferred study environment. She studied in our room, listening to music, but I’d give her a cheery, “See ya later!” and go to the library. There, I’d get a lot more done if I’d hole up in a little quiet room alone, but I did prefer to sit in an area that overlooked the large community study area. I sat alone most of the time, studying and enjoying a soda, and it was my peaceful evening while not being totally isolated. I really enjoyed having a lot of people nearby but not having to interact with a crowd. Then if I ran into someone I knew, we might make plans for another night, but I had still had a good block of time of not saying a word and not having to respond to anyone else. Even if someone I knew came and sat with me, it wasn’t my roommate, and there were still gaps of total alone time, so I didn’t feel the same energy drain somehow.
ga tech library

For bedtime, my roommate and I pretty much agreed on some core hours where the TV would not be on and we’d be quiet, and luckily we each knew that we’d see our boyfriends outside of the dorm. I probably wasn’t the roommate she’d dreamed of all through high school, since I made sure I got my my alone time every day and did my own thing whenever I wanted, but we got along just fine.

If you’re an introvert and you’re currently stuck with someone who is really pushy, obnoxious, or wild, I’d encourage you to find out discreetly (as in, the housing department website) what it takes to change roommates. If you have a better chance of a swap if you already know who you want to room with, you may be able to find that person in chemistry class or somewhere else where you have found a more quiet companion. Take good care of yourself and make sure you get your “me time” every day so you can enjoy college and have the energy to go out when you want to. You’ll have friends and a boyfriend/girlfriend too during these years, and you want to make sure your batteries are recharged so that you enjoy your time with them!

Photo credits: Aaron_M, arvindbatra

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14 Comments

  1. To help pay for college I was a Resident Assistant in the dorms Sophomore and Junior year, so I did get my own room but I was also the go-to person and couldn’t make a move in the dorm without everyone knowing and asking what I was up to, or stopping by my room to talk, which I couldn’t refuse since it was partly my job! I used to go to the mall just to have time by myself, wandering around, and a couple of my extrovert residents took it upon themselves to “accompany” me to the mall, like I needed someone to go with me. Whenever they’d see me with my purse (a sure sign of going off campus) someone would ask to go along. I ended up having to put my purse into my backpack and just act like I was going to study!

    • Brilliant! I can imagine you were quite sought-after, and sometimes we really just need to get away. I’ll have to remember that backpack trick – at work that could be a folder, which really contains your wallet and keys. 🙂

  2. Like I said in one of your other entries, I ended up having a private room in my senior year of college. I liked that the best because I liked having privacy and also I didn’t have to worry about accomodating the needs of a roommate. When I did have roommates, for the most part I didn’t have much of a problem. I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind conversing with a roommate and sharing a laugh and watching television or listening to music together, but I do value quiet time, alone. My biggest issue was just with the one girl who was really nosey.
    I remember during my freshman year, I became friends with a fellow student who lived in the same residence hall. Her roommate experience, that year, was annoying, to say the least, because her roommate was very sensitive to noise. Any little noise would irritate her. I personally witnessed this whenever I would hang out in my friend’s room at night. My friend and I were not loud, and we tried to respect her roommate’s space so that she would not feel uncomfortable, but the roommate would still complain about the noise level. It really seemed like the roommate was just sensitive to noise, and whenever she came into the room, she expected it to be completely quiet. And on some level, I could sympathize with her, but she was definitely someone who needed a single room or at least a roommate who shared the same rooming habits as she did, meaning very little noise throughout the day. At the end of the first semester of that year, the roommate moved into another dorm room with a friend who was in the same major as her. They had very similar personalities so it worked out for the best. My friend was then able to keep the same room that she had shared with that roommate, and use the room as a private room. She was lucky because most freshmen didn’t have private rooms. Needless to say, my friend was very happy. And it made it easier for her to have friends over because the room was a decent size, being that it was a double room being used as a single room.

    • I guess having a roommate is something that a lot of people want in college, but I do wish they had more choices of private rooms for those who don’t. And I wish they would try harder to match things like the noise sensitivity you mentioned in that other girl with someone with the same trait.

  3. cb, I completely understand what you are saying. I think that the college I attended, wanted freshmen to have a roommate because the college saw it as a way of everyone having a head start in knowing at least one other person on campus, before classes started. Having a freshman year roommate was mandatory, but after that year, people who wanted or preferred a single room could sign up for one and hopefully get placed in one. Before each school year, students were asked to fill out a questionnaire so that the people in charge of assigning rooms would know about the personality traits and living habits of each student, in order to match roommates up somewhat reasonably. But I’m really not sure if the people who are in charge of rooming assignments actually take the questionnaires seriously.

  4. I didn’t have any college roommate experiences, but I did have an experience in my first apartment. My roommate was an extrovert, needless to say I have not had a roommate since.

    One thing that I remember doing that helped was going on drives to nowhere. I would just drive and explore new places and listen to music.

    • Hi Nick! Oh yes, an extrovert roommate in your first apartment can be a lot worse than in a college dorm in a lot of ways. There’s almost no limit to how bad it could be! Glad you found a temporary way to relax and recharge, and yes, I totally agree: “never again.”

  5. Pingback: An introvert in college – how to survive and even thrive! — Introvert Zone

  6. Dorm life for me was amazing. I lucked out and had a roommate that was very considerate, just like me. We made a set of rules that carried through to the end. It helped that both of us were very serious about school and the academic scene. Originally, I was very fearful of a new person living with me, but I got over that after the first week. I guess it just depends on the roommate you get.

  7. My dorm life kinda sucked. My roommate was an arrogrant know it all and he would constantly put me down and pick me apart by telling me everything that was wrong with me! Then he would talk crap about me with the other students living in the same hall so they would make fun of me and I ended up with no friends there since I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with! I don’t know how I ended up with him because our filled out our questionnaires so differently. Worst of all my RA never really helped me because he was always busy with school or work. I guess part of it was my fault too because I had low self esteem and an easy target for everyone.

  8. The first time I ever had my own room was my junior year of college, so I was quite used to sharing a room. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I love to live alone. Dorm life at college was extremely good for me. I had become very isolated and lonely in high school and had no idea how much I really needed a few close friends. My college was very small, quite close-knit and supportive, and people who were my sort of people naturally gravitated toward me. The dorms were lovely. And I never want to live in one again. I have developed past the need for them.

  9. My last two years of college I had a single room. It was like I died and went to heaven. My first three years in college were difficult because I had roommates who were more into the party scene, they kept trying to drag me into it, as if it there was their mission to make me more social. The bars were and still are overrated, they’re noisy and they stink.

    One of my favorite places to go was the public library, its quiet and I got to read all the trade paperbacks (hipsters call them graphic novels) that I wanted and no one bothered me.

    • You know, I’m currently going into my freshman year of college. My three roomates all have their distinct personalities, but I can tell that at least two of them want to party and go to Red Bull parties. Personally, I hope to stay sober for my entire life and am an extreme introvert. I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse from here unless I clearly start to establish my limits, because you can sure bet that I’ve got them! By the way, if it affects your thoughts of me in any way, despite the image my name gives, I’m a guy.

  10. I shared a room with 3 other students in my first year Undergraduate program and it was awful for all of us.

    they dragged me into any party they could possibly attend and would consistently pester you with words like ” stop studying idiot and get ready to party”, and I dont know how they managed to pull of all nighter after all nighter returning from the party.

    now I live in a single room and it has been 1000@ better.
    at least no dumb people wake you up at 6 to get ready for class at 9

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