Moving into college can be scary. Very scary.
It’s certainly an exciting time, but picking up all your things from home and moving out to live on your own for the first time is no easy task. Suddenly, all the amenities and routines of home disappear and you’re left to settle into an entirely new life. Sure, it’d be easier if you could take your fridge or your mattress from home and just plop them into your dorm room, but unfortunately, things don’t usually work out to let you do that.
However, there are a number of more realistic ways you can begin to make this new “home away from home” feel more like your real home.
1. Bring home with you
It may be very tempting to buy all new things for your new living space and, while this may seem nice and refreshing, it can leave you feeling very unfamiliar with where you live.
Remember, this is your home now, you’ll be living here for 8 of the next 10 months, so it may be in your best interest to bring your favorite things from home with you to make it feel, well, like home. I’m probably far from the first to tell you this, but your favorite blankets from your bed, your favorite posters on your wall, a candle you had in your room, pictures of your family and friends are all the kinds of things that will help you with this.
Even things as simple as a reading lamp from home or items with the same color scheme as your bedroom can help you feel more comfortable. Whatever you can look at and think “yup, feels like home” can do the trick here.
2. Make that bed a little comfier
College mattresses are notorious for their cardboard-like softness and pencil-thin size. Odds are, you’ll spend a lot of time in your room, which means lots of time on your bed in such a small room. You’ll find your bed will become not just your sleeping space, but also your workspace, your hangout space, and really just your personal space. So, you’ll wanna do something about that bed.
A comfy mattress topper is always a great place to start, but nice pillows (not too many, the bed isn’t that big!), soft sheets and blankets, and cozy decorations will make studying easier, hangouts more enjoyable, and make for a much better night’s sleep. These things make it seem less like a motel and more like your bedroom.
Read this guide for tips to help you sleep like a king in a college dorm bed.
3. Keep it CLEAN
I hate to sound like your mother right now, but you need to hear it. Keep your room clean!
Having an organized room free of trash is key for both relaxing and staying concentrated in your new home. Having a trash can (most rooms come with 1-2, but make sure you use it!), shelves, drawers, hooks, and/or boxes under your bed will declutter your room. According to the Columbia Spectator, frequent dorm cleaning will help you avoid illness and feel better about your living space. Now is your chance to prove to your parents that you can keep a clean room without them yelling at you! And if that isn’t enough motivation, just remember no one is going to want to come into your room if it smells like week-old pizza.
4. Keep an open door
There are many times that you’ll find yourself alone in your room for one reason or another. If you’re the type of person that likes to know the people around you and make as many friends as you can, leave your door open! You’ll find that people love to pop their head in and see what’s going on. Whether it leads to an impromptu hangout or just a needed hello while you’re flooded with schoolwork, limiting extended periods of time alone in your room this way will help you feel more connected with your dorm community, giving it a homier feel.
5. Decorate for yourself
You might see lots of people decorating their rooms from floor to ceiling with all kinds of trendy or lavish things. While it might seem like a cool idea to do this if you see a friend with a room like that, actually living in a room cluttered with generic decor tends to make many people feel less at home than getting a handful of decorations that actually speak to them or are useful.
Things like posters of your favorite musician/album, a calendar filled with birthdays and important days for you, lights that help illuminate the room, and a few good photos of your friends and family (again, not too many, we don’t want to clutter!) will help you feel more at home than the ornate tapestry your neighbor has or a giant fuzzy pillow that takes up half of your bed. Plus, they make for better conversation when new people come into your room!
Following these tips will go a long way towards helping you really settle into your dorm room as your new home. After all, like I said before, this isn’t your “home away from home;” it quite literally is your home now. And pretty soon, with the right moves, you’ll start to find yourself calling it home more than your hometown!