Items for a happy dorm life: An incomplete list
About a month ago, a college-bound acquaintance asked me if I had any advice about things that would make living in a dorm a bit easier. I haven’t lived in a dorm since about 2005, but I have a pretty good recollection of some of the things that were either indispensable or that I wish I had and didn’t.
Two things prompted me to post this list on my blog:
1) Tomorrow is the send-off party for new Georgia Tech freshmen from the DFW area.
2) Last weekend, I recovered my blog from my senior year of high school and my first year of college, and reading through it reminded me of how helpful I found the advice of friends who’d already spent time living at school. (On a side note, I’m of two minds about incorporating the contents of that blog into the archives of this one. I was a very different person then.)
So, without further ado, here is a very non-comprehensive list of things that make living in a dorm a little more like home.
- A mini fridge. I saw this listed a couple of times, but I really agree. I bought a lovely, black 4.1 cu. ft. fridge in 2003, and I still have it. I love it to death, and it’s great to have even after you move out of the dorms or graduate. I don’t really recommend anything smaller, otherwise you can’t fit anything extra in it, like leftovers from eating out.
- A microwave (if you have room or don’t have one close by). I didn’t take one with me, but my roommate had one, and there was one in the communal kitchen. I suggest looking into whether you’ll have one available to you or maybe coordinating with your roommate.
- Electric kettle. If you wind up having a microwave in your room, this isn’t as necessary, but if you don’t (even if there’s one down the hall), an electric kettle gives you hot water for oatmeal, tea, hot chocolate, ramen, coffee…all very necessary things.
- French press (if you drink coffee). As long has you have a way to heat water and grind coffee (or buy it ground), you will always have fantastic coffee. I also recommend a coffee grinder if you’re like me and have coffee in your veins, but already-ground coffee will do in a pinch. It just doesn’t taste as good.
- Dishes, utensils, can opener, 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup, pitcher. Have at least one real plate, bowl, glass and mug, and actual silverware. You can use disposables most of the time if you want, but sometimes you need or want real dishes. A can opener is self-evident. The glass measuring cup is for measuring, it’s glass so you can heat it up or put hot liquids in it if you need to. Measuring spoons are nice, too, but you don’t really need them as much. The pitcher is for water so you don’t have to go down the hall to fill up your kettle or glass every time you need it. I took a filter pitcher with me because the tap water in Atlanta is gross.
- Nice sheets and a good pillow. Don’t cheap out here. Get sheets with at least 250 thread count (the higher the better), and bring a good pillow. A lot of dorms have extra-long twin beds, meaning that normal twin sheets won’t fit properly. This makes it hard sometimes to find good sheets in the right size, but IIRC, you can get some pretty nice ones from IKEA (online if there’s not a store by you).
- Earplugs and eye mask. Because you never know if your roommate snores or if your sleep patterns are incompatible.
- Slippers with a rubber, grippy bottom.
- Shower shoes of some sort if your dorm has communal showers. You don’t want to go into those barefoot.
- A small plastic basket for your soap and shampoo and stuff is also nice. Don’t get metal because it rusts. Don’t get a big shower caddy because they’re way bigger than anything you’ll ever need, and they’re a pain in the ass to store.
- Some people recommend a bathrobe to wear between the shower and your room, especially on the off chance you get locked out. I never bothered with this and just took my clean clothes with me to the bathroom. But this isn’t convenient in all bathroom setups, which is why I included it.
- A rug if your dorm isn’t carpeted. It keeps your feet warm, dampens sound, and makes the room feel warmer and cozier.
- A good set of headphones or earbuds that are comfortable to wear for long periods.
- Power strips and (if allowed) extension cords. You never have enough outlets where you need them.
- Small sewing kit with spare buttons, several common colors of thread, needles, safety pins and scissors You can usually buy these for a few dollars at pretty much any big box store. The first time you pop a seam or lose a button, you’ll be so glad you have it.
- Basic tool kit with flat head and philips screwdrivers, a hammer and needlenose pliers. I took a multitool and a hammer with me initially because it also had a small utility knife, but go with whatever you need.
- Recovery disks for your computer. OS disks, driver disks…whatever you need to get your computer up and running again if disaster strikes.
- First aid kit with basic medications like pain killers, antihistamines, decongestants, hydrocortisone ointment, antibiotic ointment, and whatever else you may need, as well as band-aids, an ACE bandage, gauze, tape, instant cold pack(s), etc.
- Hanging file box with folders. (Or some other filing system.) You’ll get so much paperwork from your school about so many things, you’ll need a good way to keep track of it and find it when you need it. It’s also helpful for storing tests and papers that have been handed back to you so you don’t have to carry them around all semester.
- Comfortable desk chair. Your dorm will usually have a desk chair, but they’re rarely comfortable. Find one you like and bring it with you if you do most of your studying and work at your desk. It’s totally worth it, and I wish I’d have taken mine with me my first year.
Undoubtedly, I left things out. If there’s anything that you found particularly vital while living in the dorms that I haven’t mentioned, leave a comment! I’d like to stress that I’m not talking about things you think someone might need but rather things you personally could not have lived without or that you felt significantly improved your quality of life (or really wish you’d had).