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The University Network

How to Make a Home in Your Dorm

I remember walking up and down the aisles at Target, pushing a heavy cart full of new fuzzy bath towels, plastic drawers, a trashcan, a new pan and broom, and every other item I would need for my new dorm. I can remember hearing my mom telling me that I should decorate my dorm room and what was I going to put onto my walls. I just shrugged it off, I did not really want to, so I said nothing. But the moment I realized I was alone, I knew she was right.

I moved all the way from Boston to New York. Not the longest commute, about four to six hours away, but, still not home, home. For the first few months of my first year at college, there was absolutely nothing on my walls. No posters, no full length mirror on the back of the door, no positive messages of cats saying, “Hang in There”. I had just four blank white walls. My roommate, on the other hand, had various posters and small paintings to fit her side. It looked cozy, but I still didn’t bother to fix mine up.

When I visited my best friend at Harvard, her wall was also full of photographs (some of me), twinkling lights, and cute paintings. I was starting to see the positives in decorating my room. It just made everything seem more appealing. When I came back to my dorm in New York, the bare white walls looked even more unappealing.  And my eyes were beginning to burn from those synthetic overhead lights. I was definitely ready to change it up.

I immediately bought twinkling lights and printed out a huge pile of photos of my friends from home. Using a poster board from the Dollar Store down the street, I was able to create a collage of all my best friends. It was nice to look over and see them all smiling. It definitely made me feel closer to them, even from hundreds of miles away. I put up posters of movies that I loved, a calendar, and whiteboard sticky circles. I would suggest to anyone to get twinkling lights. Not only does it make everything look much prettier, but the soft lights make it feel even warmer! I loved snuggling down into my quilts under the twinkling lights and watching Netflix.

Now, in my sophomore year, I’ve added a few more things to make my room feel like home! My posters had gotten a bit ruined in the move back home. So, instead, I now have a new calendar, my twinkling lights, plants, and even a fish! I will definitely always use my lights, wherever I move to. It always makes the room feels less stark and less like a doctor’s office.

I’ve learned that plants are also a great addition to make your room brighter and more like home! When I visited the New York Botanical Garden at the end of my freshman year, I got my first succulent. Succulents are a great plant for college students. With little care and a beautiful glow up, they are far from difficult things to keep alive! It’s actually incredible to see the little plant grow and change colors only by watering it once a week. It makes the room feel fresh and sunnier when you have a plant.

I also got a fish! A beautiful Betta that definitely makes everything feel a bit better. Now, even if the tank was a bit expensive, taking care of him isn’t! I love coming into my room and going over to his tank to see him. Bettas can recognize their owners, which makes it even better. Pets are always a way to make you feel better. Living in a dorm room, fish are the only kind of pet that you can have. I would suggest getting a fish to anyone who genuinely thinks they could put in the care for them.  My Betta makes my day rosier, and it always makes me happy to look over at him swimming about.

It is definitely a lot harder to live away from home when you have nothing in your room to comfort you. While your dorm isn’t your true home, it serves as one during your school year.  It’s therefore essential to take the steps to make it feel like one! Feeling uncomfortable or never fully there is no way and nowhere to live out the majority of your days! Even though dorms tend to have rules about using tacks, or tape, and ruining the walls, there are always tons of other ways to hang things up.

So go out to your local store and grab some sticky tape, some pasteboard and make your own positive message or collage! Go buy a plant from the grocery store next to you, or even a bookstore! And make your way over to Petco to look at some beautiful Betta fish and add one to your family. Spruce up your pad! Tie it all together with a design or pattern that you’ve come up with on your own. You’ll always feel at home when you make it your own.

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Ana Bishop is a college student in New York City studying Communications and Film.