Both my husband and I have done multiple summer programs for teachers over the past few years and most of these programs include us staying in dorm-like settings. Now for many of us, it’s been awhile since we have had to share a bathroom and these types of living quarters can be filled with unexpected surprises. We’ve successfully (re)learned how to deal with a dorm while on these summer programs and have collected a couple of our tips below.
Feel free to benefit from our surprises! 🙂
Make sure you understand your exact room situation
There are lots of different combinations for summer program accommodations so, unless you want to be suck in an awkward situation, do your homework. For example, my last summer program said “shared bathroom” and I read that as I would be sharing a bathroom with one or two other people…and it turned out I was sharing a bathroom with the whole floor. That was an unexpected surprise.
Read more: Dorm Life @ the Seminary
Bring proper bathroom equipment
I always travel with rubber flip-flops because I cannot stand shared showers and this is an absolute must if you are going to share a bathroom with a bunch of strangers. They are useful for two reasons: 1) gross bathroom tile fungus and 2) walking to and from the bathroom down a long hallway.
Also, if you are going to be sharing a bathroom it is common courtesy to bring a bathrobe. It’s just that towels…um…slip sometimes and no one wants to get a view of all that. If you don’t already own one, buy a cheap one at your location and then dump it. Either way, you will feel more comfortable and everyone around you will feel better watching you schlep back to your room all covered up.
Although not necessary, if you’re going away for a long program (3+ weeks), it may be worth it to buy a dollar store shower caddy so you can lug all of your bathroom stuff in one haul. I ended up going with the plastic bag thing but then it was soaking wet the entire time. :/ If you are also picky about wet floors you can buy a cheap floor mat for outside the shower (personally, I don’t but my husband does).
Read more: Travel Tips for Teachers
Think about laundry
If you are staying at a program over 2 weeks laundry becomes a must. Many institutions will have a laundromat or some other laundry facilities but you will need to plan it out if you want to do laundry. For example, I totally forgot to bring loose change to my last program and so I ended up converting a $20 into quarters…not ideal.
I would also bring a mesh laundry bag and a couple of laundry pods or a Ziploc of detergent powder. I forgot both of those things too and resorted to stuffing my dirty laundry into suitcases to drag to the laundromat and then I had to buy a $5 detergent when I could have just brought some from home.
Read more: Laundry Day Adventure
If you’re sharing a room
Many programs will have an upgraded option where you can stay in your own room but I’m cheap so if I can share, I will! However, I don’t sleep well with the lights on and you never know who you will be rooming with so I always travel with an eye mask so I can sleep well regardless of my roommate’s habits.
You also never know your roommate’s thermostat preferences and sometimes even a compromise can leave you out in the cold (literally). I always travel with a scarf for the plane but when planning for an extended dorm stay a blanket is a must! But make sure it’s lightweight and not too bulky to fit it in your suitcase.
Pajamas with full coverage are also smart. Even if you like to sleep in the buff, this is not the time nor the place! My go-tos are a t-shirt and leggings or baggy shorts. No one wants to stumble up to go to the bathroom only to be mooned or flashed by you asleep on the way back. lol