One of the most important and most easily overlooked parts of enjoying college is feeling at home there. The obvious place to start is decorating your dorm room, and you can—and should—start the process the summer before moving to campus.
The very first step to a happy campus home is getting in touch with your roommate(s). Start building a relationship via social networking as soon as you know who you’ll be living with. Remember to present yourself honestly, as you truly are in real life. You can only hope they’re doing you the same kindness.
Next, get on your school’s website and track down the following information:
- Approximately how big is the living space and what’s the layout like?
- What’s already there? (Some rooms come equipped with microwaves and fridges already, some don’t.)
- How big are the beds? If you’re tall, make sure to request an extra-long twin if the rooms don’t alreadycome with them.
- What aren’t you allowed to bring? (Don’t try sneaking in your internal combustion engine)
As soon as you start talking to your future cohabitant(s), start planning out who’s bringing what and whether they’re willing to share. Space is limited, so it makes no sense to bring two microwaves. But some people are protective of their stuff and may not want to share printers (just keep in mind that sharing a printer means one less clunky box to find a place for), and you should be respectful of each other’s things and personal spaces.
Make a list of all the things you already have and things you still need. Organize that list by priority level: Things you can’t live without go on top, things you’re not sure you’ll need go on bottom. If your roommate agrees to bring something and share it with you, cross it off your list. Highlight things on your list if you’ve agreed to bring them and share them with your roommate.
Know how much stuff you can fit in your car—no one likes the kid who shows up with a U-Haul. Also, remember that things of lower priority can probably be bought in your college town or brought/mailed from home later. Look up what stores are close to campus and what your commuting options are.
When it comes to décor, form and function are key. Don’t bring your collection of ceramic poodles in tutus—you don’t have the space and they’re in danger of getting knocked over and broken. An inexpensive set of curtains that you and your roommate picked together block out sunlight so you can sleep in, make the room cozier and offer you and your roommate a bonding experience.
Don’t hang just anything on your walls. You might love horror movies, but your roommate might not be able to sleep at night under that Hostel poster. Hanging up photos of family, pets and friends from back home is much safer and homier.
Command products are your friend when mounting anything and everything on your walls. So buy lots of poster strips, Velcro strips for your memo board and hooks for your curtains and curtain ties. Extra hooks can be a great place to hang your hat in your new home.
There. That should give you a start. If you have any suggestions to add just let us know.