Dorm do’s and don’ts

How to make your space a home away from home

It’s easy to think of the residence halls as a temporary home. But in honesty, the majority of your living time is spent there.

Having the right things (or wrong things) in your room can completely change the way you feel about your space, and can make coming home after a long day of work or classes a lot more relaxing. Personalizing your space will make it feel a lot more livable too. Here are some ideas to make your room a place you actually want to be.

Extra Lighting: Many of the rooms have fluorescent lights, which for some can be draining. And even if they don’t, extra lighting can be useful for studying or reading. “I know that in Puterbaugh, the ceiling lights made the room feel sterile and not very homey. A string of Christmas lights are a warm addition,” said Claire Nelson, sophomore in the molecular diagnostic program.

Climate Control: While you can’t bring an air conditioner unless you have an approved medical condition, you should definitely bring a fan. “On hot summer days, the dorms can get very, very hot. You will definitely want something to cool you off,” said Emily Tiesenga, sophomore in graphic design. Fans are also nice if you have trouble sleeping to keep you cool on hot nights and to put you to sleep with the noise.

Health Supplies: Don’t forget allergy pills or sprays, as the volatile climate can really cause flares. It’s also a good idea to have cold medicine, cough drops, ibuprofen, and a thermometer for if you’re not feeling well. Ace Bandages, Neosporin, and Band-Aids are helpful to have around as well. Other products can be useful in keeping you healthy. “Hand sanitizer is a must because you have no idea who has touched what with whatever on their hands,” said Morgan Duram, sophomore in dental hygiene.

Approved Appliances: Due to safety, you can’t have all the tools to be Rachael Ray in your dorm. But if you don’t feel like trudging over to the dining halls or using the halls’ not so reliable ovens, there are solutions. “A microwave is a must so you can make lots and lots of Easy-Mac while studying late in the night. And make sure you have a microwave that does not burn your popcorn because it makes the whole hallway in your residence hall smell bad,” said Tiesenga. A small fridge is also handy to keep beverages or other snacks.

Snacks: “Warm delights are good to eat late at night if you have that need for chocolate,” said Luke Riley, a sophomore in the chemistry program. Popcorn is a quick and delicious treat for weekends and movie nights, and Ramen Noodles or Easy-Mac can be a good quick meal. Be sure to have healthy snacks around as well, such as fruit, trail mix, or healthy granola bars. However, a care package full of chocolate and goodies when you’re having a bad week can’t hurt once in a while.

School Supplies: Though you shouldn’t need glitter, crayons, and rubber cement like in elementary school days, it doesn’t hurt to have some supplies. Some include a stapler, sticky notes, sharpies, highlighters, pens, pencils, thumbtacks, paperclips, a hole puncher, and tape. “Of course you need duct tape to fix anything that may break or fall down in your room,” said Riley.

Cleaning Supplies: It’s always surprising how dirty your room can actually get. Basic cleaning supplies such as Windex, toilet bowl cleaner, a duster, and shower cleaner should get you by, but other less noted things come in handy too. “You might want some Febreze to kill the stench of things like the burnt popcorn,” said Tiesenga. Duram agreed and said, “Air freshener is good because sometimes you get that roommate who doesn’t shower.”

Personal Touches: Since you’ll be there the majority of the year, you really should make your space your own. Bring pictures of friends and family, posters, or other decorations. “I loved having the obvious pictures from home and little crafty things. I made a cute garland that helped keep my room cozy,” said Nelson. And don’t forget about the floor while you’re busy adorning the walls. “A rug for your room is nice because the tile tends to get cold and dirty,” said Duram. Make your room inviting for others too, unless you plan on shutting yourself in all year. “Extra seating is a nice thing to have when there’s a bunch of people hanging out in your room,” said Nelson.

Animal Friends: Though pets are pretty much limited to fish, you may decide you want an extra friend if you and your roommate aren’t exactly hitting it off. Keep in mind: though fish are on the low maintenance side, they’re still maintenance nonetheless. For a busy college student, forgetting to feed Nemo can be easier than you’d think. “From my own experience, no fish! I got lazy, didn’t clean the bowl, stunk up my room and killed my fish. Plants are much harder to kill,” said Nelson.