Dorm life revisited

In my part of the world, it’s a common occurrence for small conferences to be held on SUNY campuses, and for attendees to be offered cheap accommodation in the dorms of that campus. I’m in my second dorm room of the summer as I attend the IDS conference. And I have some advice. (I know you’re simply shocked to hear that I have an opinion which I think you should listen to.)

1. Bring your own towel, blanket, and pillow. Really. You’ll be happier. Linens supplied by dorm accommodations are… Scrawny. And bleached. And often wrapped in a layer of antibacterial plastic that is designed to repel unwanted liquids, making you feel like you’re in some strange hospital for not-yet-potty-trained children.

2. Expect a dude outside your window at O Dark Thirty. In Plattsburgh, it was construction dudes. This morning it was window cleaners. Dress accordingly, depending on your personal approach to strange men outside your window at the crack of dawn.

3. Plan for shower staging. Regardless of whether it’s the hall bathroom or a suite bathroom, you and your dorm mates are all trying to go to the same place at the same time while taking turns in two showers. I find that sleeping late and skipping breakfast is the best solution to this problem.

4. Bring snacks. If you’re gonna skip breakfast, you’ll be glad of a banana and a Clif bar. Extra points for thinking of caffeine.

5. Beware the confused glare of the real residents of your temporary lodging. They know you are interlopers, they just don’t know why. And, apparently, librarians are scary.

6. Enjoy your roommates. The best part of conferences is the chance to talk to your peers. Take every opportunity. (Unless you’re sleeping in. Sleep > networking.)

7. Pretend you’re in college again, even if just for a moment. Drink beer from a keg and wine from a box and eat bad pizza. Remember the fun of that. Then be glad you grew up, and go to the conference you came for, secure in the knowledge that 22 year olds are often idiots and you mostly grew out of that.


  1. I was in an aging dorm for Islandora Camp. Room was perfectly decent, by dorm standards, but there was ONE wall outlet (two plugins). Not good — and I hadn’t followed my own advice, sadly.


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