College is a strange place because there’s not really anything that’s yours. You share virtually every space you occupy at college and that can be a little disorienting at first. For me, sharing my living space with somebody I had never met before was a bit tough.
Freshman year I struggled with making my space mine because it was all so new and overwhelming that I didn’t make the time to make my living space comfortable for me. That was a big mistake, and led to me not really enjoying time in my dorm and not having a space that felt like home. I’m here to say that this should not be how anyone approaches making a new space feel like home.
So, I’ve tried to come up with a couple tips that may make your living space feel a little more comfortable this year.
Art is an instant way to make your space unique. Whether you made it or you’re artistically challenged and just bought some posters you like, it makes any space comfortable. Every college dorm you walk into seems to have art or posters up and the little adjustments make a huge difference to the vibe of the room.
It makes your room different from the endless dorms, and it also tells anyone who walks in about you and what you like.
Spend time in your space. It might sound weird, but spending time alone to get comfortable is important. If you’re constantly in and out of your room, you’ll never find the best spots to sit or lay or where things should go. Finding the “flow” of your space takes time, but it’ll make anywhere feel more welcoming.
Since dorms tend to be small spaces, you also have to figure out where all the puzzle pieces fit to make them habitable. Taking time to do this makes it easier to function in your space and enjoy it rather than having to walk into a cluttered and overwhelming mess every day.
Sound is a huge thing for me, but music makes anywhere I go feel like my space. So, it only makes sense to place it in my living space. I think that accommodating all of your senses in your space is crucial to making it feel like a true home.
If you like headphones, speakers, or just playing music straight out of your phone, get some songs (or podcasts, I guess) going to liven it up. Also who doesn’t love music?
The only caveat to this is that you should clarify with your roommate what the rules are for music. Decide early on if the room is always a headphones space or if it’s only headphones-by-request. Then, don’t be shy to clarify what you want. If you’re trying to study for your Calculus midterm and they just need to listen to the new Kanye album, they can probably do it in headphones.
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The little souvenirs and sentimental items you take with you to school are just reminders of home. I wouldn’t recommend the most expensive or bulky things you own, but find a few items that travel with you and give them a spot in the room.
It feels weird to talk about this, but I can share what I bring every year. I have a small box with photos inside (that I’m too lazy to hang up) and some small trinkets that I think are cool or remind me of good memories. I generally only open the box when I’m stressed or need a mental break from school; and of course my journal.
Treat your space as a home. I know dorms can be loud, smelly, generally uncomfortable, but remind yourself that the space is a part of the whole college experience. Give it a chance and appreciate it for what it is.
Adjusting your mindset by trying to enjoy the good and appreciate the bad can make the semester go by a lot easier. There will definitely be really frustrating moments in any college life, and that piled on with the stress of school can get overwhelming. So, don’t forget to practice self-care in any way you can.