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International Exchange

What my American dorm room is like

5 December 2019

Perhaps one of the most daunting parts of spending a semester abroad in America is the thought of dorm rooms, I’m sure we all have enough horror stories from our time in Taly to last a lifetime. Unlike Taly however, in America, the chances are you will be sharing your dorm-room and as most college campuses don’t have enough accommodation for upper-classmen you will most likely be put in a freshman dorm. This is what happened to me.

It’s fair to say that I was worried about spending a whole semester living with 18-year-olds, I think anyone who is going into their third year would say that they are far more mature than they were when they started out as a fresher (and hopefully a lot cleaner too)! Given what I experienced in my time in Talybont, I was expecting screaming, shouting and banging at 3am every night for the whole of this semester. But luckily, for me, this was far from the truth.

I was lucky enough to be paired with my roommate, Grace, who I have become great friends with. We have the same expectations out of each other as roommates and that has made sharing a room a whole lot easier than I expected. I’m an only child so I’m used to having my alone time and worried about how sharing a room would affect me as I didn’t think I’d get any time to myself! Yet, much like how my friends in Cardiff in different subject, and different years, have completely different timetables to me, so does Grace. So both of us get some alone time whilst the other is in class.

As for the screaming, American universities like to keep a closer eye on their student’s downtime than their UK counterparts, in my dorm building we have two Resident Advisors per floor (these are students who act as people to look out for us and to help the freshman settle in), my floor also has a Resident Minister (LMU is a Jesuit school so every dorm has one of these), and finally we have a Resident Director who is the overall adult in charge of the building. So it’s more like being on an overnight school trip than being like Cardiff Halls.

Each floor has a shared bathroom (each floor is single-sex in my dorm so my floor is a girl’s only bathroom), which consists of 6 toilets, 6 showers, and 12 sinks. When I first arrived I didn’t think this would be anywhere near enough for the number of girls on my floor but I haven’t had to wait for a shower or toilet once so it’s been absolutely fine!

In terms of what is in each of the rooms, as you will be able to see from the photos there is obviously a bed, a bookshelf, a chest of draws, a wardrobe, a desk and another cupboard that attaches to the desk. You can rent a fridge-freezer-microwave combo from the university as well which I would highly recommend as it’s meant I can have breakfast in my room and cook some simple meals in the microwave.

I hope you find the photos of my room helpful in terms of showing you what you can expect from an American dorm room. If you have any questions about living in dorms, feel free to ask me in the comments!