Depending on your accommodation arrangement, your student experience can differ dramatically. If you’re living at home and driving to your college campus each day, well, your life may be as similar as it was during the high school years, only a little more adult. For many, however, living on campus or near it in dormitories is a good first step. It not only offers you a more social experience but connects you to the culture of the academic institution.

Yet sharing a space with new people you aren’t familiar with does require caring for your own affairs well in advance. That’s not to say you’re at risk of course, but protecting yourself in among anyone is helpful. It’s like taking the time to ‘check my IP address’ on your laptop, and if you find your public network is unsafe, you can use a VPN to protect your traffic in the dorm. In this post, we’ll use a few techniques you can use to protect your space and come to an understanding with any roommates or dorm friends you have.

With that in mind, consider some of the following advice:

Keep Valuables Secure

You’ll likely meet wonderful people in your dorm when getting started, but it’s important to accept that valuables remain valuable no matter who they’re near, and the wrong person can consider them a target. When you’re settling into your new dorm, it’s smart to make sure your valuables stay secure as soon as you can. 

You can use lockable storage options like safes or lockboxes for items such as electronics, jewelry, and important documents where appropriate, just for your peace of mind. Having a small safe under your bed for those essentials can be ideal, and help you avoid dragging them with you each day. Some other valuables can be kept in sealable containers, such as items in your refrigerator. You can also make it clear where your own defined spaces are, and agree upon that need for privacy with your roommate. They’ll likely comply because they have valuables they’d like to keep safe also.

Report Suspicious Activity To Authorities On Campus

From odd figures hanging around the dorm to improper behavior such as unwanted sexual advances from those in your residential society or student union, it’s essential to escalate any issues you feel are concerning and move on well from there. 

Reporting this suspicious activity can help you potentially cut a real issue in the bud, but at the very least you’ll have a report noted and on file if that problem becomes more difficult. For example, if your roommate has an older partner who seems all too happy to hang around college-aged kids, well, talking to them about that and escalating the issue if necessary can be more than understandable. These can sometimes be the social situations you need to navigate at this time.

Keep Emergency Contacts Handy

Always have your emergency contacts within easy reach – it’s better to have them and never need them than the opposite. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a sudden illness or unexpected situation that could affect others having vital contact information readily available can make all the difference. Even being locked out can cause to speak to your dorm manager and be let in for the night by your roommate.

Compile a list of key contacts including family members, friends, and any necessary campus resources such as security or medical services on top of that. Store this list in multiple accessible locations like your phone, wallet, or on a bulletin board in your dorm room, cloud storage can be a helpful resource as a last stop also. This way, you can refer to and report any issues more easily and move on from them as needed.

Set Boundaries & Communicate Expectations

Sometimes, you just have to set boundaries and enforce them. For example, perhaps you come home and realize your devices are being used to play music, like a set of DJ decks. But if you hadn’t given permission, you are well within your right to tell them not to use it unless you explicitly say so. 

Maybe you come back from a long weekend at home only to see your roommate volunteering your bed for a friend who stayed over. It’s best to nip this in the bud ASAP and to be very clear about how you feel and what changes you expect next time. If nothing changes, you can escalate the issue and potentially have this person removed, or move to a better dorm.

With this advice, you’ll be sure to protect yourself in a new dormitory. It’s the least you deserve, after all.