Saturday, April 20, 2024

Personal essay: Adjusting to dorm life as an only child

MosaicPersonal essay: Adjusting to dorm life as an only child

JESSICA MEHR
Staff Reporter




As an only child, I grew up with just myself and my parents. I never had to deal with rough fights with siblings. I didn’t have to argue over toys or who got the best snacks.

However, it wasn’t until I got to the university that I was struck by how privileged I am to be an only child. Once I arrived, I had to live in a space without privacy. I had to share my room, bathroom and study spaces.

Sharing a room, specifically, has been a hard adjustment for me because I’m a light sleeper and therefore prefer sleeping alone. The only experiences I had sharing a room as a child were when I would go to sleepovers. I would always be the last one up, anxious about being unable to sleep alone.

Regardless, I’ve had to learn to adapt, because sleep is crucial to surviving college. I’ve been using a white noise app on my phone as a way to keep out any noise that my roommate is making. That has been my key to deep and undisturbed sleep.

Having to share a bathroom has felt like an ordeal, but other students have likely felt the same. I was used to having my own bathroom where I didn’t have to deal with others getting in my way while I brushed my teeth and washed my face. However, I learned quickly that this luxury was gone, especially in the times when there weren’t any shower stalls available.

Although I don’t enjoy sharing and waiting on other people in the bathroom, I’ve found some positives in the situation. Getting out of bed to brush my teeth and seeing friends on my floor has been a nice feeling that always puts a smile on my face.

While most people may think that sharing a bedroom and bathroom would be the biggest challenge for an only child, my biggest struggle was actually not having a private study space always available.

When I was in high school, I had a set routine: I would come home from school at the same time every day and have multiple options for where to do my homework and study. Having no siblings meant that nobody else was doing homework, and my house felt like my own personal library.

However, at college, this has been very different, and I quickly realized that my dorm room was not a conducive environment for me. The desk is uncomfortable, and my roommate occasionally makes noise. 

I tried studying at the library, but sometimes it is overcrowded, especially during finals week (when I needed it the most). Another spot I tried was Perkins, but it was way too loud.

The best study place ended up being the lounge next to my room in Redding Hall. Even though people constantly circle in to work, the faint background noise has always helped me stay locked in. Having other people there with me doing work encourages me to stay on task and provides an outlet for venting when I’m feeling super stressed.

Coming from a household that was sometimes isolating, college has taught me to overcome obstacles and learn how to live with other people. 

I’ve learned so many lessons during my first semester, and I believe many can be applied to only children at the university. It is vital to always be able to adapt to changes, specifically in college when there is limited time alone and private spaces like I was used to.

I have also realized the positives of independent living away from my parents, and I truly appreciate how much I have grown. At the same time, it is important to value the comforts and luxuries of home, because much of that is gone at the university. 

Overcoming these obstacles has been a great learning experience. Although my situation made me unlucky because it has been hard to adapt, I am thriving in my second semester.

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