A college dormitory: the never-ending slumber party.

Residence halls are not known for having ideal living conditions. Typically associated with unhygienic, disorganized college freshman, the first-year college living conditions can be a dreaded arena. However, on campus, student housing still remains to be the No. 1 choice of living arrangement for most college freshmen.

There are 12 residence hall options on campus, all including cable TV, wireless high speed internet access, post offices, washing machines and dryers, athletic equipment, games, cleaning supplies and kitchen utensils.

Although College Prowler, a website composed of student's feedback on every aspect of university life, rates UT's student housing as a C+, living in an on campus residence hall can be a convenient way to transition to campus life by full immersion with your freshman class.

"Being able to meet people is definitely the best part of living in the dorms," Caroline Norris, exploratory freshman and resident of Humes Hall, said.

"It helps as freshman coming in and meeting people and feeling more comfortable because the people you're meeting are in the same situation as you. You really can't be isolated."

Students are given the option between sharing a room with a randomly selected roommate or a roommate of their choice. Feeling that privacy can be less restricted and awkward situations can be better avoided, the majority of student residents tend to opt for living with someone with whom they have a preexisting relationship.

"I think that living with someone you already know is better because it's easier," Norris said. "You already know the person's boundaries. It makes it harder to get mad about little things because you know the person so well, but it also makes it easier to address certain issues and work together."

Samantha McElfresh, a first-year graduate student in education, has lived two years in Massey Hall and two years in Humes Hall. She has had experience with both a random roommate, a pre-determined roommate and traditional style and suite style housing.

McElfresh, who has never lived off campus while enrolled at UT, said she decided she preferred the convenience of student housing her sophomore year in Massey Hall.

"I decided I liked living on campus and I could see all the benefits of it," McElfresh said. "Convenience is one; you can literally wake up for class 15 minutes before, roll right out of bed and go to class."

McElfresh remains good friends with both her high school best friend – with whom she lived freshman year – and her random roommate – whom she lived with her sophomore year.

Although, McElfresh said she feels students living with random roommates are sometimes at a greater advantage when having the real freshman experience.

"In a lot of ways I think it's good to have a random roommate experience because you can learn so many things from it," McElfresh said. "Sometimes you have a bad experience and you learn how to deal with people you don't like, and you learn to appreciate different types of people ... I think that sometimes living with the people that you've known before can limit you to the circle that you hang out in."

However, developing a circle of friends is not always made easy when paired with a complete stranger.

Some students feel that sharing space with anyone is going to have its own set of problems.

"Living with people in general is really hard in such a small place, regardless of whether you know them or not," said Colette Telatko, a freshman in supply chain management living in Humes Hall with a random roommate.

"I would have punched my best friend in the face if we had lived together . . . but living with a random (roommate), it's been difficult communicating, and understanding her problems and why she does what she does because I don't really know anything about her."

Communication problems grow even larger when language barriers are introduced. Kaila Sachs, a freshman in biology, was paired with an international student in Hess Hall.

Moving to a new city and not knowing anyone, Sachs faces the challenge of spending her freshman year sharing a room with a non-English speaking stranger.

"I was nervous to move in with a stranger, but I was also really excited to meet my roommate and get the ball rolling on campus," Sachs said. "When I found out that we didn't necessarily speak the same language, I was pretty disappointed. . . I was already expecting some roommate challenges, but it's been weird just the two of us being in the same room at the same time and it being completely silent and awkward."

Regardless of the new situations that come with student housing, the majority of student residents seem to feel that living in a residence hall is the best way to retain the college identity and atmosphere.

"Even though I kind of am a real adult right now ... I still don't feel like a real adult because I come back to college," McElfresh said.

However, Norris admitted she feels the social aspects of living on campus are well worth it.

"Ultimately, I love living on campus," Norris said. "There's always something to do. It's a constant party."

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