By Heidi Ward
Going away to college means a lot of changes. The most noticeable one for me was showering.
Some students will live off campus in their very own apartment, some will live in dorms that boast private baths, but most will have the experience I had - dorm life and communal bathrooms.
See, living at home, one of the biggest luxuries you have, shower-wise, is the ability to go barefoot. You know who uses your shower. You know how well it’s cleaned (maybe because you clean it yourself), but that all changes the day you walk into a mass bathroom. My first dorm had eight stalls, four toilets, four showers, and two sinks. It was cleaned, we were told, by the custodial staff on the weekdays. It smelled of old ceramic, chalky and musty. And no one in their right mind was going in there barefoot. You never know what your neighbor was doing in there, not to mention what creepy crawly things they’d left behind. So, I quickly got used to clip-clopping my way to the shower and alternately slipping my foot out of a sandal to wash and repeat.
Out of the four stalls, there was one that would give a decent shower and, unless in a big hurry, most of the girls on the floor used it. The others either trickled like rush hour traffic or jet streamed your skin raw. We counted our blessings; at least we didn’t live in the dorm that had the sign reminding the girls using the toilets to yell, “flush” so the showering souls didn’t get scalded.
And never mind a bath. There actually was a tub in my dorm (put there long ago as to meet regulations for disabled students) It was separated feasibly so that one could take a nice private bath, but no one did. Reasons, of course, fall along the lines of why we all wore shower shoes, but magnified tenfold.
Yet, despite all of this, these communal bathrooms helped create a sense of community. And strangely, this is where a lot of girls met. While brushing teeth, washing dishes, or doing our hair, introductions were made and conversations took place.
So, as much as I now revel in my personal bathroom the fact that I can go barefoot and take a long bath - my biggest advice to a college bound student would be to live in the dorms (followed closely by getting some good shower shoes). You will find that the socializing drains out of the bathrooms and into the lobbies. The dorm is full of other students that also don’t know anyone, and unlike the people you meet in class, they won’t all be the same major as you. This is where you’ll meet a lot of your friends and talk about things other than just class. These are the people that will share the everyday things (as much as they can be called so in dorm life). They’ll eat dinner with you, watch TV with you, and talk about all the things going on in your life. They may even chime in about how scary the communal bathroom is.
>>Back To Transition Tales Articles