What they don’t tell you about living in the dorms

A decent amount of my freshman year was spent in room 207-B of West hall. I really liked West, it was overflow housing so not a lot of people occupied the halls. I lived in a quad, which consists of four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room. Two of my roommates were hardly there so it was usually just me and my other roommate, Emma.

West was great, mostly. I felt pretty lucky considering the majority of freshmen get stuck in North hall, a residence not so highly praised. I had plenty of friends who lived in North who I would go visit regularly. The place was loud. You could always hear people running down the hallways, screaming, and laughing.
During orientations, you’ll get a tour through the halls to see what they look like up close. Seeing the dorms is one thing, but living in them is another. Here’s a little list of know-hows that will help you through your freshman year.

1. Keep your Wolfcard on you ALL THE TIME.


When arriving at the dorms, you will need your Wolfcard to enter the building. You will walk into a lobby with a desk, where someone is usually waiting to check you in. (If your guest is a UAA student, they will need their Wolfcard too.) After this, you will have to swipe your card again to make it up the stairs/down the hall/into the elevator.

But wait, there’s more.

When arriving at your quad/double, you will have to swipe your card and enter a four-digit pin to unlock the door. (If you mess the pin up, you have to wait a ridiculously long 30 seconds before the lock resets.) You’ll have to do the exact same when opening your bedroom door.

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From the outside of the building to inside your room, you’ll have to sign in at one desk and swipe your card four times.

So yeah, Wolfcards are important.

2. Keep every quarter you see if you want clean clothes.

There is a laundry room in every hall with 7 or 8 washers/dryers in each. Unfortunately, it’s $1.25 per wash and $1.25 per load. Sure, $2.50 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but if you’re doing a load of laundry once a week during the school year, it’s around $70-$80 worth of quarters.

There is a quarter machine in each laundry room, but every now and then the box is out of order. If you have quarters handy, this problem is solved for you.

I would suggest setting a timer on your phone so you’ll know when to go grab your clean clothes. People are impatient. If you leave a load of clothing in the wash and every machine is full, someone will most likely take it out and throw it on the table.

If you have parents/family in Anchorage, just make a weekly trip over to their house and wash your clothes if you can. That way, you save a decent chunk of change and no longer have to fight the battle of getting a free washer and dryer.

3. Know the schedule for Commons/Bear Necessities.

When living in the dorms, you are required to have a meal plan which gives you a certain amount of meals and dining dollars.

The first day I went to Commons, I took Emma with me. She went to the salad bar and returned wide eyed to the table. I asked her what was wrong and she showed me her lettuce which had a dead hornet in it. Watch out for what’s in your food.

Just know that breakfast is the best meal of the day. Biscuits and gravy, fruit, breakfast burritos, the best stuff is all there before 10:00 am. For dinner, pasta Tuesdays are the best days.

Bear Necessities is extremely overpriced. If you have a car or a friend does, go to Fred Meyers and pick up some snacks there instead. You’ll eventually buy something from the Bear because it’s convenient, but the prices will run down your dining dollars.

Keep quarters, watch for dead hornets in your salad, and keep your Wolfcard on a lanyard. Welcome to UAA.