Hi everyone! So a few days ago I was talking to one of my recently graduated, college-bound friends and she asked me what was the best dorm item I brought to college that you wouldn’t normally think of bringing, and what I thought I needed to bring but never actually used. Now that’s a really great question, but unfortunately at the time I had a really bad answer… mainly a collection of “Umm…”s. Whoops. Therefore, I’d like to dedicate this blog to her and to a legitimate answer which hopefully will be enlightening to all you Hopkins 2016ers who are just now (or soon to be) in the midst of getting things for college!
Decorating your dorm is HARD. I mean, the room is small, you’re sharing it with a person who has a completely different idea for decoration, and to top it all off, you’ve never even seen the room you’re supposed to decorate! That’s why I don’t want to be too specific when I’m writing this blog -- dorms can be big or small, some roommates like to get on facebook and talk decorating strategy until they’re blue in the face, and apart from at least one window, an armoire, a dresser, a desk and a bed there’s really nothing that every dorm shares in common. So, for me to tell you that putting my drawers next to the teeny hallway between my bed and my door as a nice “ready to leave” action station was a good idea will have NO use for you. So by sticking to those items that are either overlooked or over-hyped, this can remain applicable to everyone, and not just the future resident of AMR 1 Wood house #123.
- YOUR OWN CHAIR. There is little reason whatsoever for you to be forced into one of those old wooden university sponsored chairs provided to you. Sure they scoot right under your desk, but please. Try sitting on those for a couple hours while you bang out homework assignments and a certain part of your body will start raising hell. So instead I decided to buy a rolly-executive massage chair, and I could not have been happier with the result! If you quarter loft your bed (which I recommend) then the university chair slides perfectly underneath.
- THROW PILLOWS. So maybe all my friends poked fun at the massive amount of pillows, throw and otherwise, that I brought into my room, but you know what? It was worth it. Granted I totally went overboard (grand total- 16…) but I think 4-6 throw pillows are essential to a comfortable, versatile room. They’re great when you want to decorate your bed, make the back of your seat a little more comfy, or have people over for movie nights and things!
- KEURIG MACHINE. So you’re not allowed to have appliances with “external heating elements”…whatever that means. But Keurigs are okay! So yes there are about 5345346 places to get coffee within 10 minutes of your room, but if you’re the kind of person who needs coffee in the morning but doesn’t want to walk out to get it, this is perfect. Literally you can load it up with a K cup the night before, and when you wake up all you have to do is turn it on. Then you can rest your eyes for like 2 minutes while it heats up, then it flashes blue and you’re ready to get out of bed with a fresh cup of coffee! This appliance was sent from Heaven.
- GARBAGE BAGS. It took me forever to realize this, but these are vitally important. Because garbage is gross. So if you just put it in the pail, and empty the entire pail into the large hallway ones then it’s just… well gross. These bags make everything a million times easier, promise.
- THUMB TACKS. Many dorm rooms at Hopkins have walls that are completely covered in painted corkboard, which means that all you have to do to put up pictures or anything is tack them up! Here’s a look at some tacked up designs:
- BED CADDIES. I don’t know what diabolical genius invented these things, but they are nothing more than a source of frustration. They get in the way, they never sit still, they slip, they just plain don’t work. Sure, they look all cool and space efficient, and you can easily see them becoming the most important decorating purchase you’ll ever make. Here is my response:
- A PRINTER. As a freshman, you will never live more than 5 minutes away from the library, where printing is 7 measly cents a page. Factor ink, the purchase price, and paper, and I promise it won’t save money. They are big space wasters as well. If you really need something printed at the moment and don’t have time to make it to the library, well then I’m sure one of your friends/suitemates has one you can borrow.
- DISHWARE. While important for you people with kitchenettes, for those of you in the AMRs or Buildings, there’s little use. Yes, a travel mug for Keurig coffee and a water bottle for the gym are nice, but plates, forks, spoons, bowls, glasses and the like are not suitable for dorm life. I don’t know how bed bath and beyond convinced me they were a good idea, but I never ever used them. Having utensils is nice, but they give out relatively nice plastic ones for free at CharMar which is much better. Also I know like environment-wise disposable plastic utensils, paper plates and Styrofoam cups (all useful) are the moral equivalent of murdering fish, but there’s no better option. Have you tried cleaning out dishware in the dorm bathrooms? I have. Not a good look.
- BIKES. I know there are some who disagree with me, but our campus is small, Baltimore has fine public transportation, and the number of hills and inclines around Hopkins means that biking is relatively useless and harder than walking. Also you know that thing where two people walk toward each other but when they go to pass they both step to the same side, then to the other same side, and over and over and it’s super awkward? Yeah well when one of those people is on a bike, it’s not only awkward, but terrifying.
- YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE. First off, you don’t need a winter parka when you all move in at the end of August. I recommend you leave cold weather clothes at home, and phase bringing them back through parents weekend in October, thanksgiving, and Christmas break, as you phase out your summer clothes at the same rate. Furthermore, be picky about which clothes you bring to college -- if you haven’t worn a shirt in a long time, chances are you won’t start back up at Hopkins. Also, you will get more T-shirts than you know what to do with in the first few weeks, so don’t bring a lot to begin with.
I hope these two lists help you all streamline the process of packing for Hopkins! I mean it when I say that I can’t wait to meet all of you!
PS. I’m shamelessly plugging for all you 2016ers to enter the Hopkins Interactive Summer Blogging Contest -- it’s a wonderful opportunity to write something meaningful about coming to Hopkins, get it published, and make a name for yourself before you get here: http://www.hopkins-interactive.com/blogging-contest
PPS. I was about to publish this when I realized that JHU_Purna wrote a very similar blog! Well we reached different conclusions and stuff so check hers out too: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/2015/2012/07/what-planning-for-school-already/