Not Digging the Dorm Life

Dorm Life at Omega Challenging

I’m journaling about an ongoing spiritually expansive adventure. Start here to read previous posts: Omega Experience Page

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I Don’t Know if I Can do This Dorm Thing

Well, let me rephrase, I don’t know if I want to do this dorm thing. I have no experience with dorm life at all, which is probably part of my challenge. How do kids do this in college? How do they ever make good grades?

I’ve been at The Omega Institute for about 3 weeks now and I am still thoroughly enjoying the natural setting, the playful, almost fearless animals, the wonderful food and the great staff classes.

However, dorm life may be the thing that does me in on this experience. In fact, the dorm thing is my biggest challenge with volunteering here and I don’t think I’d accept a volunteer position again if the lodging was dorms.

It’s just a reality that volunteering for a non-profit probably means simple lodging. I was expecting that and found it certainly the case at Omega although some lodging is a lot better than others. The better staff lodging options are, of course, coveted and usually go to repeat staff. This is also to be expected because these are the folks that made it through at least one season already so they can probably be depended on to go the distance again.

However, that leaves the rest of us first-timers with the less enjoyable options which range from old trailers in poor condition, tents, or dorms of various sizes. The dorm I’m in has 13 rooms, each about 10 x 10, with a bed and some odds and ends furniture. There are only 3 bathrooms for 13 people, and three tiny showers. (When I say tiny, I mean I must lean against the back wall to be in the stream of water.

Though almost all the dorms are co-ed, this happens to be one that is all-female. I’m grateful I got an all-female dorm. Coping with men coming in and out of the bathroom when I’m in my birthday suit would have been just too much.

Omega also has a policy asking that no heavy perfumes or hairspray be used in dorms. Most abide by that, which is a spot of light in the challenging density of the situation for me.

Although Omega has a “quiet hours” policy, people still come and go at odd hours and I am often awakened in the middle of the night. Some are far less adept at walking softly so since my room is close to the bathroom, I hear those who tromp through and slam doors too.

Additionally, the rooms are heated from a central thermostat and we do not have the ability to regulate our own room temperature. I wake every night sweating and also, because I’m chemically sensitive, the propane heat causes headaches and severe dizziness. (Discovered later that the tank was leaking.)

In short, I’ve been miserable since I got here, at night. So, why stay?

That was exactly the question I asked myself last night, deeply and honestly. I’m not sure I will.

Getting good sleep is not a luxury for me; it’s a requirement. If that can’t happen here, I won’t make it the 7 months I’m supposed to be here.

I will say that the folks at Omega care. They try their very best to help those who are struggling and have certainly worked with me on this. It isn’t that they don’t care; it is just that there are limited alternative options. I’m hoping something can be worked out.

ps. None of the staff dorms have air conditioning. Definitely something to consider because it can get, and has already gotten, stifling hot here. Yesterday, it was in the 90’s in town (probably at least high-80’s here in the mountains where Omega is nestled) and it’s only May. I’m told that’s unusual but it is not unusual to have that temp in July here.

I have to consider any decision to leave very carefully because Omega has a policy not to rehire those who don’t complete their season. It might close this door forever.

One thing I’d suggest if you are considering working for this or another non-profit is to be really honest with yourself about how you like to live and sleep and shower and etc. Dorm life, like this, definitely not for everyone.

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