Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

So you’re in college and you live in a dorm? Or maybe you’re out on your own in a nice apartment?  Maybe you have neighbors that just live really close to you?  Well if you live in any of these situations you know that living in a dormitory or apartment style residence can, obviously, pose some challenges and issues.  However, it’s my personal belief that as long as everyone can have some basic common courtesy we can all live together like a little happy family.  And then after getting a little more experience out in the world I came to my senses and realized that sort of common courtesy is really rare.

Long story short:  if you live in bulk housing you’re going to encounter people that have less than their fair share of courtesy, especially concerning… Noise! Dun dun dun…. So what can you do when you have noisy neighbors?

A very common problem people in dormitories or apartment buildings have to deal with is noise, and anyone who has ever lived in such a space knows this.  Recently, I had an experience with excessive amounts of noise.  Usually noise doesn’t bother me and I tune it out easily, but this time the noise happened to be drunk people noise from 3am to 5am on a Thursday night (technically Friday morning).  I had the pleasure of listening to needlessly long, drunken conversation shouted between people in the parking lot outside my window and some people I believe who were leaning out the windows on the 5th or 6th floor of my building (“Where’s Saaaaam?” “Hey are you coming or not?” “Hold on I need to get my bag.”  “We’re going now so hurry up!”  “Where’s SAAAAAM?” “Come on let’s go!” and so on.)  This went on for a while until they finally quieted down.  I was drifting between consciousness and blissful sleep when I awoke with a start to the return of the cavalry! Again, more shouted conversation, and when that was over I thought I’d finally be able to get some sleep when I heard soundtrack to Grease being blasted from the same said window.  I actually really like Grease, so it wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that it was 5am and I needed to get up for class in two hours. 

Luckily, this hasn’t happened since, and I’ve been able to sleep as soundly as I need to on the weeknights.  This is a pretty rare example, but if you have noise problems where you live, what should you do?
1.     Complaining is always an option, but I prefer talking to people myself first.  If you know who’s making the noise, and if you ask them nicely and politely (trying really hard not to let it slip how full of rage you may be), there’s a big possibility that they will quiet down or at least remember for next time.  (I know it’s really hard not to come home like a screaming maniac when you’re drunk, but people have been able to, believe it or not, come home without waking up the entire building.  So I know it’s possible.)
2.     Since you may not always know that people making the racket, finding them may be an issue.  If the noise is continuous night after night and you are really suffering from it, then an official complaint where possible may be appropriate.
3.     Making as much noise as the other people rarely works and just makes other innocent people angry, so don’t do it. 
4.     You can always just suck it up.  People like to have fun and blow off steam, and I totally support that! If the noise is only occasional and doesn’t cause you any long-lasting psychological or ear-related damage, just let it roll off.  That’s what I usually do.  (Unless the noise is Justin Bieber or Nickelback related – then we’re gonna fight.) Noise hasn’t been an excessive problem here for me, so I take this one incident in stride and consider it a funny story to share with people later. 

So there it is! Not at all comprehensive and only half serious, I hope this at least gives people some options about how to deal with problems involving noise in their living situations.  I have been so lucky to have a pretty wonderful living situation, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.  So here’s to all of us that have the joy of living in dormitories!! Most of the time the good and the fun outweigh the bad and the irritating, so chin up!

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