My first weeks at University have been a smashing success, so I thought I would share a few tips I’ve learned along the way. Transitioning from a high school of 1,500 people to a big public university with a population of over 60,000 people is a major adjustment; my trigonometry lecture has over 270 people in the lecture hall, there are crowds of people everywhere you turn, and the gym is always hoppin’ by 9am. It’s a great and terrible situation for introvert like myself, and while I make a strong effort to be social I find that having a chill space to go and recharge my mental-chi is necessary for my success and wellbeing. Enter: the zen of the dorm.
My bed and nightstand. Look closely to spot an essential oil diffuser and air purifier.
The dorms are at first barren and gloomy, but with a little planning and interesting, you can have not only the cutest dorm room in the land, but a peaceful calm space to relax and center yourself amidst the hectic bustle of campus. Pinterest is a fantastic starting place for planning out your room, and as soon as you get your room assignment begin thinking of how you want to design the space. I live in a single room, but if you have a roommate, see if they want to start a shared pin-board to bond and plan out your shared living space together.
I started by picking out a duvet cover, I got mine from Ikea and prefer duvets of traditional comforters because they’re easier to wash. Use colors from your duvet to match with other elements in the room, for me it was all about the blues and greys. A colorful throw rug makes a huge difference in the feel of the room, adding color and cozy texture to and otherwise depressing hotel-like carpet. My room didn’t come with a closet door, so I made my own with a set of curtains and a tension rod, which you’ll see below. Lamp light is always so much cozier than glaring overhead lights, so look into getting some with warm toned lightbulbs. Lastly, liven the place up by adding some fun+functional wall art like a dry-erase calendar to keep ya organized and cork boards to hang up pics of your friends and family. Move in day will be crazy, and you may cry when attempting to pack it all up in the car, but if your environment gives off dreary vibes its hard to maintain a positive attitude; cheerful decorations will give you a serious morale boost every time you walk in the room.
Storage ottoman, funky corkboards, warm lighting, a rolling storage cart and a dry erase calendar.
Next, we move on to survival essentials, food and water. My biggest advice to anyone moving into a dorm is to invest in a Brita filter pitcher and a filtered water bottle; the sludge that comes out of the sinks is laden with chlorine, fluorine, and a bevy of heavy metals that you definitely do not want to be ingesting. Secondly, if your educational institution doesn’t require you to purchase a meal plan, don’t get one; they’re unnecessarily expensive and you can save money while eating healthier food by doing
your own cooking. At the bare minimum get yourself a mini fridge(freezer section optional but awesome), and a microwave. Most residence halls outlaw toasters and hot plates but if you want to get a little fancier than nuked food, invest in a micro-CrockPot or rice cooker to open up your world. A $9.99 discovery at Target, I’ve baked sweet potatoes, made veggie frittatas, and even whipped up blueberry pancakes in mine! Finally, get yourself a street legal coffee maker(one without a hot plate), I like my nespresso but Kerigs are also a good option.
Cubic storage unit, and my dresser.
As a kid, what did you do when you wanted to clean your room or hide the mess you’ve made? Hide it under the bed! That’s precisely the same approach you should take in college as dorm rooms are not known for having ample storage space. Raise your bed as high as it can go and shove your dresser under there, I got an inexpensive plastic storage cube and fit it under there as well; instantly you’ve doubled the space in your room. To remedy the situation, I also brought a bookshelf, a rolling storage cart, and a storage ottoman that doubles as seating for friends.
Bookshelf, nespresso coffee pot, ribbon board, and cheery curtain that serves as my closet door.
Finally, we have some creature-comforts that will serve to make you just a little more comfortable in your space. A reality of the dorm life is that many of the buildings are old and can have issues with mold and other such allergens. If you have allergies or are concerned about toxins in your environment, look on Amazon to find a small , affordable air purifier to help yourself breathe easier. An essential oil purifier with peppermint and lavender can do double-duty to cleanse the room and help you wind down at night, but be sure it doesn’t bug your roommates. My final tip is to bring some living energy into your room with a plant. Bamboo is very low maintenance and a universally great option; I personally have an african violet and a little potted pothos.
Attending University can be scary, exciting, fun, overwhelming and a totally unique experience that you want to fully take advantage of. Having a little zen space to retreat from the wonderful craziness of it all has helped me enjoy the experience all the more so I hope these tips help anyone out there preparing to move out for the first time just as I did.