After completing my first semester at Ohio University, I reflected on my dorm as I packed it up for the month long break. Before moving in, I had found every dorm hack and "necessary item" list online. Within five months, I have realized what "hacks" have been helpful and what have never really worked like it should have. Here's my list of what worked, what didn't and what I have mixed feelings on.
My favorite hacks
1. Clip on everything
Clip on fans and lamps to put on the bed or desk are a life saver. When my roommate is sleeping, it is so nice to be able to turn my clip on lamp on to work on homework. It is extremely helpful to have on when turning the main light off before bed so I can find my way and avoid stubbing my toes. The fan is nice for when it is too hot and there is little control of the temperature within the dorm.
2. Crate as a shelf
Knowing my desk would have no shelf, I bought a wooden crate from my local craft store for around $10. While it could be embellished or painted, I left mine natural. Within the crate, I have books and games and used the top as a shelf to place my mugs and instant coffee.
3. Comfy chairs
If the room allows for it, having a comfortable chair such as a bean bag or butterfly chair makes a huge difference. It's a nice place to sit and relax, do homework or somewhere for friends to sit.
4. Homemade mac-n-cheese
While easy-macs make mac-n-cheese in the dorms easy, they get old after a while. Through our market at OU, I purchased cheese sticks, milk and macaroni with extra meal swipes. Simply add water and macaroni to a mug and cook in the microwave for 4-6 minutes, stirring regularly making sure to not let the water boil over. Once cooked, add about a tablespoon of milk and 1-2 cheese sticks depending on the amount of macaroni or personal taste. Let the hot macaroni do the work and melt the cheese. Finally give a good mix and you have homemade mac-n-cheese in the dorm.
1. Brita filter
While having clean water within the room is helpful, having to constantly refill the Brita took too much time and frankly I am far too lazy to do it. While this may work for some, I find that I'm not a true fan.
Having comfortable and decorative pillows are a must. However, having too many pillows creates an issue because there is not a spot for them when it is time to go to bed or space to sit on the bed once it is made. Having a couple pillows is fine, but make sure to not go overboard like me.
3. Travel mugs
In my mind, I saw myself making coffee in the dorm, putting it in a travel mug and going to class. I haven't done this once all semester. At OU, you can have flex points which can be used in the cafes on campus. If I wanted coffee, I used my flex points. Having a travel mug is handy, but I personally find them to just be taking up space on my desk.
1. Bedside caddy
The bed side caddy was the most seen thing I personally saw when looking up dorm hacks before moving in. I don't use it. It is not strong enough to hold things like my laptop, which is what I am on most nights before bed, and it muffled the sound of my alarm on my phone in the morning. I will not be using this again in the future.
2. Car air freshener on air conditioner
To get a fresh scent in the room, simply clip a car air freshener to the air conditioner or vents. While I did this, and the room did smell good, it lasted for only a maximum of one week before there was no more liquid left in the clip and no scent came out at all. Using a spray air freshener is just as effective.
When I thought about college while in high school, I always imagined myself making huge amounts of microwave popcorn and that it was just the natural thing to do. This entire semester I have made maybe two bags of popcorn. If you don't eat tons of popcorn at home, you do not need to bring tons of microwave popcorn to school because chances are, it won't be eaten.
It has been one hell of a first semester. I have learned a lot about myself and hope that my thoughts on dorm living can help someone else in the future when planning their dorm room.
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