What to Bring to Your Dorm Room

[This post is the last in my Back to School Series]

So you’re going off to University. You must be terrified. Holy moly! Even as I was packing my bags this year, I was remembering my sheer terror as I packed them last year. Luckily, for me that has passed, but maybe you’re still feeling that way? All I can say is: it’s going to be okay! And read this if you want more encouragement. :)

As my last post in my very fun-to-write back to school series, I’m talking about what to bring.

Dorm Room Necessities

 

My dorm room!
My dorm room!

 

Besides the obvious – school supplies, bedding, books and knicknacks – there are tons of things that fill the average dorm room. Food, snacks, and beer abound, along with dirty laundry and stacks of paper. Depending on the size of your room, it could be neater (small space = higher organization!), but nonetheless, most dorm rooms are crammed full of lots of goodies. Now, I know you’ve been scouring the articles online about what else you might need, and you’ve probably heard it all. In case you haven’t though, here are a few awesome lists of what to bring: very comprehensive!

But maybe you’ve read it all before, and want my personal opinion on the subject. The verdict: for rez, you don’t need that much stuff!! I know how exciting it is to be moving away, and I know you want to take everything with you (I sure did..). But remember, you’ll be moving home for the summer most likely, so pack light! I had way, way too much stuff when I moved home! So besides the absolute essentials and a few homey touches, here are my picks for enjoyable dorm living:

 

Journal

 

On a notebook, far, far away
Image by midnightglory via Flickr

 

For me, one of the most indispensable items to have in your toolkit. Even if you can’t manage to journal every day about your crazy adventures, it’s still incredibly useful for when you feel sad or scared or just plain frustrated! I swear by my journal, and always pick ones that are bright and happy. You could also use a sombre Moleskine to record all your seriously serious thoughts.. :)

Plate, cup and cutlery


Because who knows when you’ll be munching on some real Thanksgiving dinner or lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry sauce or a full Hanukkah feast? (Yes, all of which occurred my first year, along with countless brownies, cookies, muffins and other munchies.) Always be prepared! Who knows when the opportunity for food will come along?

 

Sleeping Bag

 

 

A person in a sleeping bag
Image via Wikipedia

 

Very useful! Bring with you when you visit friends, or when they visit you! Also can be used for extra warmth if you live somewhere ridiculously cold.

Earplugs

 

iPod Earplugs
Image by wmbreedveld via Flickr

 

So important! Who knows when the guy directly above you will blast Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin until two in the morning, while bouncing a tennis ball against his wall. Oh wait, I know when he’ll do that! Every stinking night. Avoid the drama and use earplugs. Use them when an ultimate frisbee tournament goes on for a month, every night, until midnight. Use them when you’re at the library for total peace. Love earplugs. Totally a necessity.

 

Flat plastic storage boxes

 

31 January 2007 (2): Stacking Boxes
Image by Ulleskelf via Flickr

 

These are perfect when you have a small space. They fit so neatly under any dorm bed and can act as your little pantry/pharmacy for the year. I kept extra kleenex boxes, contact solution, extra lightbulbs, and way more tucked into those handy little spaces. Great use of space, especially when you don’t have much!

Extra floor lamp

 

IKEA Lamp
Image by Matzelchen via Flickr

 

Ooh. So indispensable for me first year. When it gets dark at 5 in the winter, I get thoroughly depressed, especially if all the lighting I have is an overhead light and a desk lamp. Not feeling it. I favour tall floor lamps, cheap at Ikea that can stand in one corner of your room and cast a loving glow over the whole space. Lovely. :)

 

Rug

 

Afghanmatta.jpg
Image via Wikipedia

 

My rugs kept my feet warm, my room colourful and my floors cleaner. Love rugs. Yay rugs!

 

Your musical instrument

 

 

DanElectro & Kay Guitars - Ottawa 01 08
Image by Mikey G Ottawa via Flickr

 

I found that playing my guitar was a huge stress-reliever last year. anytime I felt overwhelmed, I could just reach into the corner of my room and strum away. I also play the piano, and nearer to the end of the year I started playing the pianos downstairs in our rez. If you don’t play an instrument, sorry! But I really recommend bringing yours if you do have one.

Related Articles

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How exciting!

Isn’t it fabulous to move into a new place and start making it your own?! I love that feeling of settling in somewhere so much, of laying all your things our and getting organized and making everything look absolutely gorgeous! I’m moving into my very first apartment tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited to make it wonderfully mine. I’ll keep you posted on that front!

What do you think about my picks for comfy dorm living? What changed your life when you were living in a tiny room? Let me know!

Good luck with the transition my loves!

xoxo,


7 Easy Ways to Choose Your Dream School

Photo Thanks To Marco Bellucci

I wasn’t planning on writing this article so soon, but one of my best friends from back home has suddenly been caught in a whirlwhind of acceptances and a deadline! In order to try and aid her with her decision, I thought I’d share some of the tips I would have found helpful when I was making my decision last year. Enjoy!

1. Do Your Research

Flip through the Maclean’s magazine, see what they say about each of your choices. If you don’t think you’ll remember key stats like faculty-student ratio, bring a notebook and write them down. Make sure you look at everything that will affect you directly: residences, distance from home, class size. Write it all down! If you can, visit the schools. If they offer tours, take one! If not, go to the welcome center, get a map and explore all the areas that you will personally be using.

Get as much information as possible about all your options.

2. Don’t Expect to Just ‘Know’

A lot of people that I go to school with now have told me that when they first visited our campus, they knew it was the place for them. And while that’s fine and dandy for those folks, not all of us can simply feel that, and feel it confidently.  Personally, I didn’t feel that any school was the one for me upon visiting it. It wasn’t until I had put careful thought into it that I made my decision. So take the pressure off yourself! Don’t sit there going, “Well, how can I go to that school if I didn’t just feel it was right for me! There must be something wrong!” NO. If you get that feeling, great. If not, you just have more thinking to do.

Don’t worry yourself about not ‘knowing’ a school is ‘the one’.

3. Visualize

After you’ve been to a campus, toured a dorm room and seen the cafeterias and classrooms, sit alone for a while and visualize. Picture yourself using those facilities, walking through the streets. Do you like the city? Can you imagine yourself decorating that dorm room? And be honest with yourself. Again, this technique may not work for everyone, since there are so many unknowns in the picture, like new friends and classes. For now though, visualize as much as you can. Be true to who you are. Are the bathrooms too dirty for you?  If they are, make sure that you love the rest of the school more than you hate the bathrooms!

Try to picture yourself at the school, and observe your reactions.

4. Make a List

So you’ve done your research, visited the schools, and you still don’t know. That’s okay! Sometimes it takes more thought than that. It’s a huge decision and you, of course, want to make the right one. So put some energy into it. Make the most comprehensive pros and cons list you have ever made. Write down everything, even if it seems silly to you. You don’t have to show it to anyone, so don’t leave anything out for fear of judgment. Get it all down! All the stats you’ve looked at, how you felt when you were there, your visualizations, everything! If you’re making your decision over a couple days, start it and carry it around with you to add to it. Just keep listing.

Write down all the pros and cons of your options.

5. Talk It Out

So you’ve made your list. You still can’t decide. The next step is to talk it out with anyone who will listen. Parents, sisters, friends. Attack all of them with your urgent dilemma and make them listen. Explain your current thought process and dilemma to them, get their opinions. Sometimes they can surprise you by knowing more about you than you do. By talking it out, you’ll gain perspectives you didn’t have, and it might just help you to clarify what you really want.

Find someone who will listen, and get their opinion.

6. Step Back

It’s very important in this stressful time, to take a gigantic step back. You’re so caught up in all the little details about the softness of your rez bed or the kindness of new friends. And while these details are extremely important, you also need to make sure you look at the bigger picture. What are your goals in life? Why are you going to university, and how can a specific school fill that role? What is important to you? What have you always wanted and how can university help you achieve that?

I’ll give you an example: my decision. I was torn between Queen’s and McGill. Both are beautiful schools with lots of talented professors, friendly people and nice cities. I was really torn. I’d done all of the above tips, and nothing was helping. Then I thought about what I’d always wanted, all through high school: to get away! My entire high school career was focused on getting out, getting away from a few unfriendly faces. But when it came down to it, I was terrified that I would only know two people going to my new school, if I chose McGill. TWO! Versus approximately 35 at Queen’s. But then I stepped back. I realized that it was the fear that was talking. What I really wanted was to get away and make all new friends, international friends, but it was a terrifying thought. If I simply went to Queen’s, I’d have the comfort of many friendly faces. Fortunately, I remembered to look at the whole picture, swallow my fear and make the right decision. If I had gone to Queen’s, I’m sure I would have been happy, but McGill fits me like a glove. And guess what, at McGill there were tons of friendly faces, they were just new ones! :)

When you’re making your decision, stop and think about your life goals. How does a certain university fit those?

7. Take The Plunge

Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Getting to the point when you can say, confidently, which school you’re going to is very hard work, but it’s also exhilarating. Making this decision is the most empowering one you’ve probably ever made in your life, and it will feel good to say out loud where you’ve chosen. A couple of tips for biting the bullet:

  1. Never let fear be a reason for doing or not doing something. You’ll regret it more than anything else.
  2. Once you’ve made the decision, don’t worry if you still feel nervous and uneasy. You’ve done everything in your power to choose what’s right for you, and the anxiety you feel is the fear of something brand new and scary. University is unlike anything else, and it’s terrifying! But that’s okay, because everyone is going through the same thing. :)
  3. Always make sure your reasons are your own. It’s easy for parents and friends to accidentally (or on purpose) say what they think is best for you, and it’s easy for you to feel pressured by that. Before you make your final decision, ensure that you’re 100% doing it for you, and not because of any parental pressure, etc.
  4. Say it out loud. “I go to ______ University”. How does it feel? Are you giddy with excitement when you say it? Good sign.

Conclusion

Your university years are both great and impossible. You do more growth than you ever thought was possible (yes, even in just my first year) and everything changes. Choosing where you’ll spend these years is a big deal, but just remember: you’ll be happy at any university. They’re all great! They all have something to offer, and you’ll have fun at any one you attend. The important thing is figuring out which will make you happiest. I hope my tips helped you out, good luck with your decision!

Feedback?

What else did you do to make your decision? What strategies worked best for you? I’d love to hear about them :)

xoxo, S.


Closing Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about how things are about to change drastically in my life. I used to dream about this moment: glass of wine in my hand, typing on my very own laptop, preparing to start the grand adventure that is my life at university. But somehow, it doesn’t feel like I thought it would. Not at all. I didn’t think it would be so stressful, so melancholy or so hurtful, to realize that so many different segments of my life are ending, and that my relationships with those I love most are never going to be the same. Ever. I was shelving books yesterday and I realized two things painful: one, I would have to give up my beloved job, and two, I saw a book called ‘Friday Night Dinners’ and realized that never again will I have the kind of relationship with my mom where I’ll come home on a Friday and have dinner with her. I always loved Fridays and even though I almost always went out, I almost always wanted to stay in. Which got me to thinking about how sad I am that I feel like I’ve gone and wasted my youthful years with my family. I haven’t spent as much time with them as I should, I know that. I haven’t always been in the best mood or made the right decisions regarding them. I haven’t been the best friend I could be, or best person, or best sister or daughter or granddaughter. I do try. But life is hard, I’ve found, and I’m still trying desperately to get the hang of it. Conflicting priorities, extenuating circumstances, emotions and hormones all lead me to choices that while not wrong, are not always quite right either.

I realize, obviously, that there is always room for improvement. Of course. And I try to self-assess as much as possible and fix issues outstanding. It’s hard to please everyone, I’ve learned that much. And when it comes down to it, you have to figure out who it is that is most important that you please. I catch myself in bad moods, saying I can’t help feeling how I do. And while that is true, to a point, I can always try harder. My best friend word-vomited that ugly truth last night via text: ‘Ask yourself. Is it really worth it.’  He clearly knows me better than I do, and I can admit that he’s right. It’s not worth it to be in a stupid mood. I can try harder. I don’t have to always be like that. Going forward into life, I need people who will love me no matter what, but also be willing to help me change for the better. I am open to change for the better.

Also in this hullaballoo of stress is entangled many administrative choices. Doctor’s appointments, hair dresser’s, banking information, setting up a credit card, choosing a new phone, finding the best software for my computer, sending in legal documents and forms, signing leases, health card information, going shopping for my dorm room (still exciting, even among the stressful things). There is not only so MUCH to do, there is so little time to do it in, while desperately trying to fit in time with the family, friends, doggie. :)

And all at the same time, I have to stress about my future. Choosing the right courses to be able to enter the program I want, thinking about frosh and how to choose the one that will best represent me, thinking (although much too far in advance) about jobs for the summer, housing for next year and semesters abroad. And all at once, trying not to get overwhelmed and stick to my guns. Making sure I am still representing the person inside of me. Making sure that when I get to school, I am prepared to show the world my true colours, be ready and open to new ideas and people, and making sure I make decisions that truly reflect who I am. Which includes even little things like the phone I choose.

To the outside observer, you might think that I am stressing too much. I know I am. I am overthinking (my tragic flaw, unfortunately), stressing, analyzing, deconstructing. I have so much to do that I am not doing it. Not planning my time so I can spend time with the people I’m going to miss most. I have to try and conquer that.

Over the next couple weeks, I am going to experience some strange things. This will be the last time I sleep in my bed without being somewhat of a stranger. It won’t be my house. My interactions with my family from here on in will be completely different. Soon, I’ll have to be grown up, supporting myself, cooking for myself, working for myself. I am so thankful that I have supportive parents, willing to help me in any way that they can on my journey. I love them to pieces.

As I begin to say goodbye to my current life, I begin to slowly and incrementally get excited for my new one. New address, friends, international contact, amazing people and city. One step closer to my dreams. I couldn’t be happier. Or more terrified.