If you are ever planning on attending an American College or University this list of words will help you sound like a fluent english speaking student. If you are an international student, there is a good chance that you will live in the on-campus dormitory (if you are confused keep reading!). 


1. DormRoom, Student, Dorm Room

This is the most basic term on my list. Simply when you go to school and live on campus you will  live in a dormitory or shortened to “dorm”. Typical American dorms are built for two people. They are very minimal, they only have a bed, a desk, and a place to put your clothing. 


2. SuiteBeds, Bunk Beds, Sleeping, Bedroom, Home, Interior

Sometimes you will see housing on a college campus referred to as a suite. This  means that you have more space or four people live in the same room instead of two also you may have a bathroom in your room, instead of having to walk down the hall. 

3. Roommate (roomie)

Studying, Exams, Preparation, Knowledge, Teenage, Male

Most of the time in a University dorm you have to live in the same room as another person. We call this person that we live in the same room, apartment, suite or house with our ‘roommate”. We occasionally say the word roomie as slang, but it’s used more ironically. 

4. RA (Resident Advisor)

Reception, Woman, Secretary, Corporation, Porter

A resident Advisor is the person who will help you if you run into any problems in your room. If you have a disagreement with your roommate, or need help finding something in the building this person will be there to help you. An RA is typically another student that has already lived in the dorms for a year, being an RA is their job and they get free housing as a payment. 

5. Move-in dayBoxes, Cardboard, Carrying, Overload, Move, Person

The day that you move into your dorm before classes begin for the semester will be referred to a “move-in day”. Typically your university will have a weekend before classes begin that you can move into your dorm room. They will have other students available to help you move your items in and assign you to your room. 

6. Move-out day

Bellman Luggage Cart, Baggage, Luggage Trolley

The opposite of “move-in day” in the dorms is “move-out day”. You can probably guess what this term means. You will be required to have all of your things out of your dorm room by this day, you typically have to do some light cleaning and an administrative check out with your RA.

7. On campus

College, Campus, Building, University, Education

A common phrase you will hear in an American university is “on campus”. If something is on campus,  it means that it is a university event and takes place at the university, like a conference, a sports game, or a club meeting. Someone may ask you if you live on campus, and if you live in a dormitory, then, yes, you live on campus!

8. Freshman

Laptop, Woman, Education, Study, Young, Computer

You may be familiar with this term already. In America, in order to tell someone how far along you are in your undergraduate degree we use the terms freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Typically, but not always you are required as a freshman to live on campus in a dorm. After that you may move off campus when you are a sophomore into a house or apartment. 

9. Dining hall (d-hall)

Salad Bar, Salad Buffet, Salad, Buffet, Starter

At my university, the dining hall was a pretty great place to eat. When you live in a dorm, you don’t have a kitchen so you typically pay for a meal plan. This meal plan allows you to eat in the dining hall. The dining hall may look like a school cafeteria, but at some schools, it may be more lounge like, or even like a restaurant with booths for seating. My university had many options of things to eat in the dining hall. I had friends that went to other schools and their dining hall options were not very appealing, they did not enjoy the food. So the quality of a dining hall depends on your school. 

10. Common room (communal)

Furniture, Chairs, Modern, Design, Home, Table, Room

The term communal refers to something that is shared by members of a community. A common room is shared by the people who live in the same building as you, or sometimes there are communal areas for the level, or floor number that you live on. The term common rooms is used to describe these areas. 

11. Loft

Fort Reno, Oklahoma, Bunk Beds, Soldier

The term loft can be used in several ways. You can use the term as a verb, such as “my loft” meaning the area that you sleep that is above the ground. Or you can say “i’m going to loft my bed”, meaning you are going to raise your bed above the ground. It is quite common in a dorm room to loft your bed or have bunk beds (meaning one bed above the other) in order to save space. If you loft your bed you might put a desk or a futon underneath. (if you don’t know what a futon is read number 14).

12. Shower shoes

Flip Flops, Summer, Blue, Beach, Sandal, Holiday

If you have communal bathrooms at your dormitory you’re going to want to wear shower shoes! Shower shoes are exactly as they sound, shoes that you wear in the shower. I’m aware this may be a very American concept, but if you are sharing showers it may be seen as more clean to wear rubber flip flops so your feet are not touching the shared floor. 

13. Bulletin board

Post It Notes, Sticky Notes, Note, Notice Board

A bulletin board is an area on a wall made of cork that you can pin up different papers. If you have a bulletin board in your dorm room you may want to pin pictures of your friends and family from home. Often times in dormitory buildings there will be a communal bulletin board. People are able to post different messages to the community such as jobs available, things for sale or different club meetings. 

14. Futon

Entrepreneur, Startup, Start-Up, Man, Planning

As mentioned before you may have a futon in your dorm room. A futon is a small sofa that folds into a bed, an uncomfortable bed in my opinion. They are common in dorms because they are easily moved and don’t take up too much room. 

15. Dresser

Chaise, Chair, Lounger, Bedroom, Dresser, Lamp

Another piece of furniture that you commonly find in a dorm room is a dresser. In a dorm room a dresser may be much smaller than in a typical bedroom. A dresser has drawers for you to put your clothes or any other personal items.

16. Poster Advertisement, Billboard, Outside, Poster

A common piece of cheap dorm decor is a poster. A poster is a large piece of paper that has a picture printed on it and you hang it on your wall. Posters sometimes have pictures of favorite sports teams, super heroes, cars, singers, rappers or even beautiful places.  

17. ThermostatGauge, Thermostat, Control, Dial, Temperature, Heating

The device on the wall that controls the temperature of the room is called a thermostat. Make sure you and your roommate discuss what temperature is most comfortable for the both of you. If you like it hot and your roommate likes it cold it could cause an argument if neither of you are willing to compromise. 

18. Mini fridgeRefrigerator, Box, Cookie Jar, Blue, Storage, Tin Can

One thing that some college students either buy, or the university provides in their dorm rooms is a miniature refrigerator, shortened to “mini-fridge”. A small refrigerator where you and your roommate can store beverages, snacks, and leftover takeout. 

19. Room and boardWallet, Money, Credit Card, Online, Shopping, Woman

This is a term that you may see on your student bill for the semester. When you pay for room and board it means you pay for your dorm room and your meal plan, or the food that you eat from the dining hall. 

20. Apartment StyleBedroom, Bed, Room, Home, Interior, Bedding, Apartment

If you college offers you may live in “apartment style” dorms. These are still on campus but look like an off campus apartment. They may have a kitchen, a living room and a small bedroom for each roommate.


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