A dorm room is heaven. A dorm room is hell. When it's ninety-five degrees outside, and the humidity is threatening to rust the hinges off the doors, there is nothing more relaxing than coming into your dorm room--however small, unsightly, smelly cramped and messy it may be--and sitting on a comfortable chair and pulling off your socks. If you have a good roommate, chances are he will come in shortly and do something similar, and you can spend an hour or two calmly vegetating, usually in silence, while watching a re-run of a World War II special on the History Channel.

Then there are the times when the dorm room is a prison. When everything your roommate does gets on your nerves, when the people next door won't turn their music down so that you can study for your big (physics/chemistry/Shakespeare/underwater basket weaving) mid-term, when the idiotic construction workers have managed to rupture the steam line yet again...

The important thing while living in a dorm, however eerily similar it may be to a prison cell from a film noir on first glance, is to make it into a space you're willing to exist in. Bunk the beds, build a loft, put down carpet. For the love of God, put down carpet. The most dreary room in the world is a freshman's, with its bare linoleum floor lit by the overhead fluorescent light. Environmental design isn't the only necessity, of course. You also have to think about your roommate.

If you take luck of the draw, and let the University choose your roommate based on a few oddly selected questions (Smoke? Drink? Chew your toenails?), chances are you'll do okay. There's always bad luck, though. One of my friends drew a guy who had absolutely no sense of the appropriate. He would come in while myself and others were in the room, say "Hi," and calmly drop his pants. Considering he showered approximately once a week, this didn't really seem necessary, especially when he would change immediately into an outfit he'd worn the day before, and the day before that.

Whether you're lucky or not, though, there's little you can do to change your roommate's personality. What you can do is change, or at least manage, your own. Be accomodating. Don't be a pushover, of course, or you'll be spending the whole year in a room that isn't yours. You can give in on smaller things, though. Does he study best at midnight, with a lamp on? Does this bother you? Turn over on your other side. Does he put his papers on the dresser, exciting your neat-freakish ire? Say something to him, politely--but don't argue about it. As long as it doesn't directly affect you, you can be lenient. A comfortable atmosphere is more important than a tidy desk. If you can be friends, even on a distant level, with your roommate and suitemates, there will be a lot less stress in your life--and don't believe the people who say that there isn't any stress. Unless you go to a complete party school or just blow off all your classes, there will be. It's a fact of life. Of course, Super Smash Bros. Melee is never as fun as when you have a fifteen page paper due the next day...

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