Tuesday, January 29, 2013

College Dorm Advice Part 1

You've just moved into a college dorm. This is so exciting!
You probably want to get unpacked as quick and possible and revel in the feeling of having your own space, possibly for the first time.

But there are a few things that you should do first!

Check your dorm information to see what you can do to your room. 

Can you paint the walls? Can you burn candles in your dorm? Are you allowed to smoke or have pets? Can you put nails in the wall? Are regular fairy lights allowed or only LED fairy lights?
These are all important questions before you even start unpacking.
For example, my dorm allowed painting so I didn't start unpacking until I'd finished painting my room.

Check to see what furniture is available for free.

Check to see what furniture each room is supposed to have. If your room is supposed to have certain furniture, you can ask for your dorm manager to get you the missing furniture.
Then ask if there is any extra furniture. Email your dorm or house master for this information. Lots of dorms have extra furniture for rooms. Ask floor mates if they have furniture they don't want or don't have space for in their room. Before exchanging furniture with floor mates, make sure your dorm allows moving furniture!
You may want an extra wardrobe if you have a lot of clothes, so ask about that.
My key advice would be to check to make sure your desk has all the drawers and that they work well, without jamming or any other problems.  If anything in your room is broken, ask the dorm or house master if they can replace it for free.

Now you have all your furniture. YAY!

Find out where you can get a vacuum.
Personally, I own a vacuum.
A lot of dorms these days have vacuums that students can rent for an hour or so. My dorm has several vacuums that students can rent.
If you're super nice to cleaning staff or the dom manager, they may let you use some of these cleaning supplies. A friend in another dorm has a good supply of paper towels and disinfecting air spray due to a well placed friendship.

Fresh smells.

If you're allowed to use candles, go for it! They smell great and are super relaxing. Make note of where the fire alarms are and how much smoke your candle is giving off. No one likes fire alarms. Be sure to put the flame out when you're out of the room.

My dorm doesn't allow candles so I have found a few ways around that to keep my room smelling good.
Get an automatic air freshener or get a wall plug in freshener.
Get a room spray air freshener.
Make sure that these two scents are the same or at least work well together. Both of mine are lavender.

Clean everything!

This is the most important thing to do! I don't care if your dorm has a cleaning service or if you've lived in filth all your life. You have to clean everything in your room! Move furniture and vacuum. Take out the drawers of your desk to clean. Wipe down everything with bleach and/or clorox. This includes your mattress. Most dorms have the mattresses in plastic covers so they are super easy to clean. You will be amazed by how much dust and filth there is.
I had to go over a lot of things multiple times because things were so gross!
Cleaning your desk, bed and closet are super important since you will spend so much time in these places. You may laugh at "spending time" in your closet but how often are you wearing clothes?

That's what I thought!

If you can, now is the time to paint your room.
I'll do a separate post giving advice on painting rooms.

Organize your furniture.

With everything clean, you only have to find the proper place for your furniture.
Once again, you may be able to have the dorm or house master arrange help with this.
If not, ask your floor mates for help, offering to treat for lunch in exchange for the help. This is a great way to meet people without it seeming unnatural.

Take note of where the plugs are! If you have plugs behind furniture, use extension cords. If you have cable or ethernet plugs, check where they are and make sure you have a cord long enough to reach your tv or computer.

I'd suggest having your desk in front of a window, if your room has any windows. You'll be happy for the natural light when studying.
Another good idea is to have a dresser by your bed, especially those of us who wear glasses.

Make your bed comfortable.

Remember to clean the mattress. So many people have slept on it and maybe not all of them have been as regular with showers as you prefer to be.

Your bed is a place you will be spending a lot of time in. Make it how you like.

Remember most college dorm beds are Extra Long Twin!

I would strongly suggest getting a foam mattress pad. These come in all different price ranges. I got a mid range one, about $50. That one has served me quite well these two years. People always say how comfortable my bed is so I think it was very worth it.
Do get one with a washable cover! Also, if you have a foam mattress pad with a cloth cover, I'd suggest getting two fitted sheets so that will prevent the pad from sliding off of you bed.

Also get comfortable pillows and pillow covers. I'd suggest a few firm and soft pillows. If you are a pillow enthusiast like me, get a body pillow. Again, if you can get a body pillow with a washable cover that would be best.
Silk and soft cotton pillow covers work best for easy washing and comfy sleeping.

Another suggestion would be getting bed risers. They are super helpful for storage. Things stay out of sight but are still easily reachable.
Your bed frame may be adjustable- ask if it is and for help, if you need it. My bed is quite raised so that it stores a lot of things underneath in large plastic containers.

One of the best purchases I ever made was of this from Walmart online. It even has wheels! Which looks a lot like this from PBTeen, but Walmart is a lot cheaper.

Decorative pillow people will tell you to get throw pillows and all that stuff.
Just make sure that you don't have too many things on your bed that it becomes a pain to make or sit on. Just because you were too lazy to make your bed before that 10 am class doesn't mean you won't have friends over to your room later in the day.

Moral of the story: Keep it simple enough that you can always have your bed ready for a friend to sit on!

Part two will explain the full process of unpacking and organizing now that you have a good grasp on your room.