Dorms are your transitionary space between real life and life with your parents.
Once you get a taste of living on your own, you can't get enough. But as such, you need to create your own space, make your own rules, and set your own boundaries.
You're not quite equipped with all those skills straight away, and it takes time to learn them.
Here were some of the answers.
I'm a very introverted person, but I think anyone can relate to this — You don't really miss alone time until you can't get any. No matter how well you get along with your roommate, there are times when you just want some personal space and somewhere that's just -yours- to escape to. I was lucky enough to have a car for the last semester of on-campus living, and would routinely go for drives alone to get some space (rural college). If I didn't have that, I might have gone insane.
Some parents never actually teach their children how to live like healthy humans. Some people have never cleaned a room (or never done it without being made to), have never done laundry, never cooked a meal or paid a bill. Some of them stop bathing entirely, despite pleading roommates and neighbors dealing with someone who's stench permeates everything they own and seeps through the walls and can be smelled in the room across the hall.
Open your window and really listen to the Chinese grad student who happens to be an exceptionally good whistler as he crosses the quad. Never again in your life will you hear someone whistle Debussy's Claire de Lune with as much beauty and skill.
And always wear flip-flops in showers that are shared by the entire floor.
A Cohabit By Any Other Name
That cohabiting with anyone will carry a "price of admission." No matter how well you get along, and how much you enjoy living together, your roommate will have certain traits that drive you f*cking insane.
For example, I lived with the same roommate for 3 years of college. He was a great guy--tidy, quiet, friendly, respectful, law abiding. But dude was from a tropical climate. He kept the thermostat maxed out, plus another space heater and a humidifier running 24/7 in the winter. It was like a jungle in our room.
Needless to say, this threatened our domestic tranquility. Freshman year, we fought about it through the entire winter. I'd open a window and snap at him to put on a sweater; he'd whine about his sore throat for days.
At the end of the spring term, we had a heart-to-heart about whether we wanted to sign up to live together next year. And he gave me an ultimatum: we could compromise about anything but the humidity. He just couldn't get comfortable in the dry winter air, and he refused to live in a room that wasn't damp.
After a lot of thought, I agreed. Plenty of people have rooming situations that are outright hostile--they just can't get along with their roommates; or they're living with people who disrespect their space or their stuff or their time. We didn't have that. All we had was a fight over the thermostat. (and it's not like I was perfect--dude contributed way more than his fair share to keeping the place up.)
So that was the "price of admission" for living with Kevin. We bought some tropical plants and a tiger-stripe rug, I wore tank tops and kept a glass of iced tea handy all winter long. And it was fine.
tl;dr: NOBODY IS PERFECT. If the domestic union is working in all other respects, you may have to decide to suck it up and accommodate a couple idiosyncrasies.
Whether it's putting in your earplugs to drown out the K-pop, or picking up a couple diet coke cans that aren't yours, or replacing the toilet paper, sometimes "compromise" really means picking up the slack.
Don't be a pushover (and never tolerate disrespect), but understand that roommates are never 100% compatible.
Open Door, Open Heart
Leave your door (and your mind) open and people will flock to you. I lived in the honors dorm as a freshman, in what we lovingly called "the tower of screaming virgins." Top floor, all-female, everyone on the honors track for something STEMy. Everyone kept their doors shut and the hall was sterile and silent all year. But they told me at orientation to leave my door open if I wanted to make friends, so every day, I'd prop the door open and go about my business. Slowly, people started venturing in to hang out with me or just have a short conversation. I would always welcome it, and when I couldn't take people, I'd just close my door to be left alone. That whole year, I made friends I still talk to (this was 2012-13) because they'd walk in off the stairwell, see my open door, and come in to say hi. Naturally, not everyone stayed; there's always friend-turnover after the dorms. But I had a better time and felt really well-liked and less homesick that way.
I'm not a naturally friendly person and I tend to be standoffish at first, even shy. But I make friends everywhere because I learned in college that you can make the tiniest effort to invite people in and they'll go with both feet.
SO MANY THINGS
I never considered myself a neat freak until I moved into the dorms. My first roommate was so messy, you could see the divide in the room of my side versus hers. She constantly kept buying more stuff. Piles of books and clothes everywhere. I let her borrow my bowl once and it sat dirty on her desk with food in it for days. As a result, I kept my side of the room absolutely spotless otherwise we would have drowned in filth. Funny though come move out day, I was all packed and ready to go, so much so mom and I went shopping and bought some shoes and came back for some more boxes, the parents hadn't even dented the mess that was her side. Mom and I left laughing. I've been keeping things tidy ever since.
It's Like Dating A Co-Star
As much as you can avoid it, don't date on the same floor. I repeat, don't date on the same floor. You will regret if later when you constantly see that person when you two break up.
You Are Gorgeous, You Human
Some people arent suited to living with others.
Some can change and adapt, others will continue living like they did at home where the magical cleaning fairy cleans everything for them.
Your actions have consequences on others. And being in close quarters doesn't let you escape from them easily. In other words, you'll learn a lot of relationship lessons through experience. Some good, many not so good. But the not so good lessons/experiences will hopefully have a better effect on future you in dealing with relationships in your work career.
Fire In The DiscoGiphy
Was an RA for 3 years. Here's my advice, for the dorms and life.
Don't leave the microwave running unattended.
Make friends with people in other dorms/locations for when there are fire alarms or other emergencies.
Check to make sure you have your keys with you before you leave, even if it's just go to the bathroom down the hall. Everywhere you go, check to make sure you have your wallet, keys, and phone, or whatever would be extremely inconvenient if you lost.
You don't have to be best friends with your roommate. A quiet roommate is better than a fun one that lied about his felony record. Same goes for neighbors, coworkers, and more.
Keep a regular schedule, and share it with your roommate so you don't walk in on each other choking the chicken. Meet your needs, and allow others to meet theirs.
What life lessons did you learn in the dorms?