Analyze your needs and boundaries

Whether you had a shared or a personal room at home, you can try and identify the things you value in your personal space. You can start by deciding what qualifies as your minimum level of comfort (e.g., are you comfortable always being around people or do you need regular alone-time? Which appliances are you comfortable sharing: do you need your own kettle or microwave? Are you a night owl or an early bird?). Think about the ways you can ensure your bare minimum or negotiate around it and…

…talk everything through with your roommate(s)

Do it as early as you can. Get to know them a little and try to get on friendly terms with them. Establish mutual respect: your relationship will inevitably have a major effect on your dorm life experience for both of you. This would also be the time to set some ground rules: decide on how to navigate the differences in your sleeping and living habits, if and when your friends can come over, which items you will share, etc. Approach this step with an open mind and with an understanding of your non-negotiables as established in the previous step.

“Creating a cleaning schedule for your room is crucial. When you share a small space, it gets dirty in the blink of an eye, so do talk it through. You can go into minute detail or just set a general schedule of who cleans what and when. In my experience, such housing matters often led to roommate feuds,” shares Elizaveta Shevchenko, an ITMO graduate and a member of the ITMO.NEWS editorial team.

Make the space your own 

You are going to be spending a lot of time here, so as much as it can, it should feel like home. It should be a place where you can rest, recharge, and feel safe. So, try to find a way to make your part of the room truly yours: arrange your books, buy a couple of cozy blankets, a cool mug, fairy lights, or some posters. Basically, turn it into a branch of your safe haven.

“Before purchasing any appliances, clarify what you are allowed to have with your dorm manager. For instance, electric kettles were banned in my dorm, but we could borrow stove kettles for free at the dorm and there were microwaves on almost every floor. What I am saying is, you need to get to know the services and infrastructure of your dorm before purchasing something you might not need,” adds Elizaveta.

Credit: Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

Credit: Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

Consider safety 

Speaking of safety – dorms might not be the best places to store your most prized possessions, so be careful about leaving them unattended and be mindful of where you keep your room key. 

Dealing with noise

Even if your roommate is as quiet as a mouse, you might still be disturbed by the noise of your next-door neighbors through the notoriously thin walls. You can invest in some noise-cancelling headphones (which work wonders even without music) or even earplugs. While we are on the subject, a high-quality sleep mask can also be a great investment – if not to deal with mismatched sleeping schedules, then to sleep through St. Pete’s white nights.

Go-to study/comfort places

Sometimes, even if your room is indeed your safe haven, a change of scenery can do a lot – a burst of inspiration during your studies or some comfort for the times when you are feeling homesick. That’s why it can be nice to seek out several go-to study or comfort places for yourself (here’s our list to get you started). 

Socialize at dorm events 

We won’t be pushing you on this one, but if you do want to hang out with your fellow students outside of classes, there will definitely be ample opportunities at your dorm. Just join the building’s VK or Telegram chat (best to mute them as soon as you do – there will be a lot of chatter there): you will know about any upcoming events and likely get to meet many people you might have never run into during class.

“The group chat of your dorm or your floor can come in handy not only events- and activities-wise – there, you can also find anything you might need! For instance, I once borrowed a sleeping bag for a can of pineapple slices. Knowing that you can always lend a helping hand to someone really creates a sense of a close-knit community. By the way, making a group chat for your room can be good, too,” concludes Elizaveta.

You can learn more about ITMO University’s dorms here. For insights and reviews of the university’s dorms by our international students, go here.