They can tell you all they want at orientation, but once a party school, always a party school. And this will never be more evident than on the weekends. Weekends, by the way, start on Thursday nights, not Friday nights, like high school. Most people have classes Monday-Thursday, and maybe one or two classes on Friday, which can get canceled. So yeah, partying starts early.
Now, if you're like me, and you're not really sure how to handle yourself in the midst of all this, it's okay. You do not have to be a loner and chill out in your dorm every single night because you're scared to go out and get yourself into shenanigans that you're not ready to handle. Feel free to go out, hang out with friends, and always think of LOSER.
Everyone's got some. Know them. If you are not a drinker, if you're not into the drug scene, then don't be. If you're not a parties, then don't. If you can't stay up late, then don't. If you have financial limits, please acknowledge them. If you don't drink,don't do drugs, don't party, don't stay out late, feel free to tell the people who are trying to get you to do otherwise. They'll probably try to get you to just give it a try, but if you seriously don't want to, just tell them, and they'll let it go. No one wants to force anyone else into doing something that makes anyone else uncomfortable. That's not what college is for. It's for meeting people who are different from yourself, not changing people to be more like you.
People like it when you're outgoing. Regardless of whether or not you are completely nervous or feeling awkward (because trust me, my life is a constant stage of awkward), just try to fight past it and be friendly. Say hi to everyone. No, seriously, EVERYONE. I think I've said hello to every single person I walk by in the hall. Hopefully, you'll know most of their names, otherwise that awkward moment in the bathroom when it's just you and what's-her-name will be really awkward (Yes, this is the situation offered by RA who is trying to get everyone to know each other better.). Just trust me on that one. It won't be awkward if you start a conversation with someone you don't know, because that's just how it is. If you're in line for Mexican food at one in the morning, and the line's out the door (because it will be), you CAN talk to the person behind you and complain about how long the line is, even if you've never met them before. It's just one of those things that people do. Talk to people. Always. Example: I just walked over to the bathroom, and said some variation of hello to about five people. Regardless of whether or not you know them, do it. Here are some common forms of "hello's" said in the hall: "Hey," "Hi," "'Sup," "You going to the game," "I hate these doors," "I hate swipe cards," "Bathrooms are really far away," "I left my towel in my room, dangit," and "Why don't we ever have soap in the bathrooms?" Yeah. Some of those are only valid in certain areas (Anything regarding doors/swipe cards, at entrances and exits, anything regarding food around mealtimes, anything regarding a game or outing on that same night, and anything regarding bathrooms, soap, towels, shower shoes, and water temperatures in or around the bathroom.)
Here's a biggie. Sharing is caring. No one likes free stuff more than college kids, and if it comes from a friend, it's even better. I'm not saying give away all you've got, but offer something if you've got it. If you're a baker, and have got to bake, make something and share with the floor. It helps in making friends to go party (or not) with. If you're all hanging out and someone's in the mood for a game, suggest a card game or board game you've got in your dorm and bring it out. There are nights that you just hang out and chill, and games are just the thing to do.
Evaluate the situation. Just because you don't go crazy every night doesn't mean you can't have fun. Hang out with people you meet, and if they start suggesting stuff that seems a little sketchy to you, just stop and think. Evaluate the situation. Think of consequences, think of pros and cons. Figure out whether or not it makes you uncomfortable in the sense that this is just a new thing that you're not used to or in the sense that this is really something you can't do. If it's the first, go ahead and give it a shot, after thinking it through. If it's the second, bow out. No one's going to hold it against you. I promise. And if they do, they're not worth the time.
This goes both ways. Respect the people you meet. Respect that their own lives and their decisions are just that- their own. So if they do something you don't approve of, stay out of it. It's not your call. If you don't approve of it, take yourself out of the situation and head elsewhere. But don't lecture people for finding their own way in college. And the other aspect of that is something that we don't usually think will be true, but turns out to be so. Usually, people will respect you and your decisions and way of life, especially if you just let them be. If I tell someone that I'm not a drinker, I don't do drugs, and I'm pretty new to the whole aspect of late-night shenanigans, they're pretty cool with it. You might get teased a bit- in the same way your friends back home would if you didn't feel like joining in- but they're not going to be rude about it. For the most part, everyone here respects other's decisions and lives and realizes that not everyone is the same. Don't be afraid to stay who you are.
So there's the model for living in dorms, especially during the weekends. Whenever you're thinking of going out and partying, just think LOSER. But please don't say it outloud when you're thinking through it. Because that's what people will start thinking you are.
A couple of notes:
Don't do drugs. Don't drink. It's illegal, kiddos. Don't do it.
For those of you that are getting ready to go to or apply to colleges, let me know if you've got any specific questions or comments that you'd like me to address, and I'll write a post. For all you seniors out there, that includes the application process, choosing a school, and figuring out how to get ready for the move. Just comment on here, send me a Facebook message, or shoot me a text. I'll make sure to write something up. :)