No roommates, a bathroom practically all to yourself and never having to deal with noisy neighbors sounds like a dream to any college student living in the on-campus dorms.
Instead, it’s another reminder to Long Beach State students that their housing experience is nothing short of unusual.
Dean Stravos is a first-year film major living in Parkside College, the dormitory housing all CSULB students who chose to live on-campus for the fall semester.
“It’s usually like a ghost town in my hallway,” Stravos said.
That is because only about 340 other students are residing in the dorms, who are all expected to wear face masks outside of their rooms and practice social distancing in shared spaces.
One space includes the bathroom.
In order to ensure that one student uses the bathroom at a time, students are asked to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Masks are expected to be on hand, otherwise students risk receiving a write up. While it may be to protect the health of students, it is not without its own problems.
“It can be stressful sometimes,” Stravos said, explaining how he has class in the mornings and will have to wait if there is someone else inside.
But the bathrooms, the common room cleared of any seating aside from a single chair and the dining hall where students are given a plastic bag to put their food in, are just parts of the new dorm living.
Michelle Narolewska is a fourth-year civil engineering major who remembers what dorm life used to be like prior to the pandemic.
“It was always funny when there were a lot of people, even if it was noisy,” Narolewska said. “You heard other people laughing and having fun and talking and making friends and it just had a good vibe.”
She lived in Los Alamitos last year, where community events included making arts and crafts, movie nights and playing video games.
Now, community events take place virtually, but Narolewska said it can be easy for students to forget to join.
Despite that, forming friendships in the dorms is still possible, at least for Caleb Edwards, a first-year theatre arts major.
“The first day here it felt kind of lonely,” Edwards said. “I hadn’t really met anybody the first day until the very end of the day.”
Now, Edwards and his fellow dormers have grown close to each other, goofing off outside, being loud at night and taking trips to the Target nearby.
Although he could not imagine how the dorms were going to be due to the pandemic, he knew his decision was the right one.
“I needed a new space away from my family,” Edwards said. “Being in the same house not only started to affect my sleeping schedule, but my appetite, my health.”
Like Edwards, Stravos was ready to move out of his house from the Bay area. His parents wanted him to have the college experience, despite it being highly untraditional this semester.
Having a room to himself is certainly a plus for the situation, but Stravos is already eager for this time next year.
“It’s going to be like a freshmen year for sophomores,” Stravos said. “We’re still going to be learning a bunch of new stuff and exploring and meeting new people. Just like we would have been doing if there wasn’t a virus right now.”
Living on-campus gave Narolewska that college experience. It’s why she chose it, like many other students who apply for housing.
“A fun part for me of dorm life was just running into people all the time in the hallways, in the common areas,” Narolewska said. “Even in the bathroom you’d run into your friends after class. Then, being able to go hang out and be hanging out in each other’s rooms, that’s what made dorm life really fun.”
Although dorm living is different this semester, students are trying to make the best of it.
It’s what Edwards is doing.
“Being alone, living alone, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make friends or that you won’t have anybody to talk to,” Edwards said. “This whole thing has been a huge learning experience that has bettered me as a person and as an adult.”