My first experience using communal bathrooms

The first floor communal bathroom is one of the largest in East Fairchild. Girls on the first floor use the storage spaces to keep their toiletries organized. Photo by Gina Kim.

The first floor communal bathroom is one of the largest in East Fairchild. Girls on the first floor use the storage spaces to keep their toiletries organized. Photo by Gina Kim.

When I heard that I would be staying in a dorm at the Medill cherub program, the first thing that popped into my mind was sharing a bathroom with my roommate.

But it wasn’t just with my roommate. It was with all the girls on my entire floor.

Yes, East Fairchild has communal bathrooms, and communal bathrooms weren’t in my vocabulary of life experiences.

When I got to the dorm and went inside my room, I was pretty confused because I couldn’t find where the door to the bathroom was.

I didn’t find out that I would be sharing a bathroom until I asked my roommate the night I arrived. She guided me down the hall and opened the door that would suck me into a dreaded whole new world.

Three toilet stalls. Two showers. And four sinks.

Math wasn’t my forte, but I was pretty sure there were more than four people on my floor.
Confused, I sort of just shook it off. But, it didn’t really shake off.

After the lecture about dorm rules by head instructor Joe Grimm, I raced back to the dorm to be the first one to take a shower.

I lost the race.

There was a line full of people that night waiting to take a shower, and all I could do was try to control my impatient eye twitches through the delay.

Strands of hair clogged the drains after each person showered. Water drowned the floor where you could hear little splashes every time you took a step. Steam clogged my nostrils, blurred my vision and heated the shower stalls.

“Is this going to happen every night for five weeks straight?” I thought. “I’ve got to do something about this.”

It was finally my turn to shower, and although I’m not religious, I thanked every God and deity out there for finally giving me this chance to get clean.

I was jet-lagged, tired and the only thing I needed was a late shower.

After that night, I created a simple shower plan for the rest of my stay: literally run to the shower stalls after the 7 p.m. class ends.

I’m not a fortune teller, but the next night I ran to the bathroom again. Surprise. The sound of running water wasn’t clashing in my ears. It was just me and the silence of the bathroom.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I was going to have a nice shower that night.

And I did.

I followed that plan for at least a week, but noticed many of the girls on my floor didn’t take showers at night, so I stopped running. I didn’t have to rush anymore, nor worry.

Although it was hectic the first day, everyone adjusted to their own routines, and I no longer had to wait in line. It was kind of weird to brush my teeth and wash my face with three other girls next to me doing the same thing, but with just a little bit of music and chit-chat about not getting enough sleep or how long the lectures were, everyone warmed up.

I began to enjoy using the communal bathroom. I liked the warm smiles I got each time someone walked in while I was brushing my teeth. I liked the short greetings, such as, “Good morning,” or “Hey,” from people who were also brushing their teeth.

But most importantly, I liked the very shower stalls that I loathed in the beginning of the program.