Some of you may go your whole life without experiencing communal bathrooms, and I am very very happy for you. They really are not that bad at the end of the day, but I think I got lucky with all the girls that lived on my floor the one year I lived in a dorm with communal bathrooms. I don’t think every experience was like mine, so I came up with some tips for those living in the dorms with communal bathrooms to make the experience flow smoothly, be less awkward, and be as tolerable as it can possibly get.
Smile And Say Hi
When you see someone in the bathroom, simply smile and say hi to them. You don’t have to start a full blown conversation, but chances are they live on your floor and you’re going to see them a lot this year. Start off right and be that friendly person on the floor and acknowledge their presence and let them know you’re friendly and care with a nice smile, maybe a hello, or a head nod. You don’t have to do too much. Who knows, maybe you’ll both be doing your hair in the bathroom, start talking about your favorite music, find out you two love the same artist who is going to be in town soon and end up going to a concert together and becoming great friends. It can definitely happen and if people are rude or don’t reciprocate that’s all on them. You put effort in in the bathrooms and because of that you have nothing to be worried about.
Maybe most of you are like, “Duh,” about this, but investing in a shower caddy that’s not too big and not too small will make your life so much easier. You obviously want to make sure all your shower supplies fit into your caddy, so that will mostly determine what size you’re going to get but you also have to remember you’re going to lug it between your room and the bathrooms every time you shower. You are also going to have to store it in your room when you’re not showering. So think about the space you are going to need to save for those situations and remember to clean it once a month because they can get nasty if you neglect it.
Remember Everybody Poops
If you’re anxious about pooping in front of other people in the bathrooms, remember this is now your home for the school year. Think about all the hours you’re going to be spending pooping here. Do you want that time to be anxious and uncomfortable or do you want to comfortably poop in peace? This definitely takes some time and work because it is pretty awkward to poop with strangers that live on the same floor as you, but everybody does it. After a while your body will hopefully be able to relax because you’ll be there so often, but if not mentally remind yourself everyone is probably feeling just as awkward as you are, and they all understand it’s really awkward. So it’s ok, we’re all suffering together and instead of feeling anxious about it, let’s embrace the awkward and relax.
Clean Up After Yourself
This takes effort on your part, but simply wiping the counter after you have brushed your teeth or double checking to make sure the toilet flushed everything. Small efforts add up and will keep the bathrooms clean and tolerable for everyone on the floor. Make sure your paper towels go in the trash if your communal bathrooms use them. If you’re sick and throwing up, the last thing you want to do is clean up after yourself, but try to limit the splashage or even let your friends or Resident Advisor know you’re sick so they can help you.
Bring Your Own Hand Soap
The soap provided by my university in the dorms dried my hands out so badly. I would moisturize daily, and that definitely helped, but the soap was harsh and not good for my hands. My last my RA and some people on the floor started putting soaps in the bathrooms and I thought that was such a good idea and I wished they had done it earlier! If you want, you an buy them for your floor, but what I suggest is bringing it up in a floor meeting (my university requires them every quarter if you live in the dorms and you can usually bring up any issues, concerns, or positive remarks in the meeting) and ask if everyone wants to pitch in maybe 50 cents to buy hand soap for the quarter. Maybe your school provides soap that isn’t so harsh, and if that’s the case – great. This is a non-issue. But if it’s like my school, hand soaps are going to make the communal bathrooms experience a lot nicer, especially if you get lovely smelling soaps.
From my own personal experience, the communal bathrooms did not have fans to relive smells from the bathroom. Before you go and buy some air fresheners, make sure no one has allergies or super sensitive noses to smells or scents. I think air fresheners are safe, but do double check. You can get the sprays or one that sits on the counter and will last longer and stay in there the whole time. I would personally just bring my own can each time I decide to poop and spray it afterwards out of consideration of others.