Nostaglia Trip: The dos and don’ts of visiting your old dorm room

"Back in my day..."

My first experience with the common affliction of ‘former room nostalgia’ came in the fall of my freshman year, when I was awakened late at night by the sound of a girl I didn’t know knocking loudly and persistently on my door. When I kindly asked her what she thought she was doing in disturbing my sleep at three in the morning, a feverish light filled her eyes. “I used to live here,” she exclaimed excitedly. “Okay,” I replied, closing the door in her face and going back to sleep.

It was a strange experience that I didn’t quite understand at the time, but since then I have come to experience my own fair share of yearning for my first-year dorm room, which recently culminated in a visit to the place to relive old memories and see how it had changed in my absence. I wonder now whether I did that poor sophomore girl a favor by turning her away that night, because my visit turned out to be an uncomfortable, awkward, and truly depressing experience.

Thus, in an attempt to make others’ potential trips to their old living spaces just as fulfilling as mine was, I have compiled a handy guide of tips for when it’s late at night, you’re drinking in your room, and you want to go be drunk in the room where you used to do most of your drinking. Check it out after the jump.

1. Knock before you enter. It’s not your room anymore. You’ve left that period of your life behind, so be polite to those who are still enjoying the particular quirks of your old living space, and pound loudly on their door until they open it. If the door is locked, breaking and entering is considered poor form.

2. Visit on a weeknight. The new tenants of your old room may be studying or catching up on sleep for a test the following day, so try and visit as late as possible to provide them with a welcome study break. This rule holds doubly true for midterm season, which is coincidentally the season I decided to visit my old room. On a weeknight. I know the young man with a physics midterm the next morning whom I roused sleepily from bed definitely appreciated it.

3. Bring a gift. The rules of hospitality extend both ways. If the room’s inhabitants are kind enough to let you poke around and relive your old memories, it’s your obligation to repay them in some form. The gift can be material, but never underestimate the value of intangible presents—stories of the things you used to do in the beds they fall asleep in every night may cost nothing, but the looks of utter disgust the stories elicit are priceless.

4. Engage your hosts. Chances are that the new inhabitants really don’t care about the adventures you used to have around the room in which they now live, but regale them with tales anyway. Extra points for attempts to use the phrase “back in my day” as often as possible.

5. Do not overstay your welcome. As a simple courtesy, try to keep your visit under three hours long. Exceptions may occur if you use the room to watch both National Treasure movies in a row or become engaged in a genuinely interesting conversation with the new tenants of the room, who appreciate your presence and don’t make you stand awkwardly in the hallway as you stifle a sob at the sight of how they’ve absolutely butchered the room’s layout and decorations, leaving cold and dull a place that once was filled with joy.

Follow these rules, and you’re likely to exit your former room just as unsatisfied as you entered it. Oh, the memories…

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