It’s the first day of your college classes and you made your coffee in your contraband coffee pot or Keurig, or maybe you have those little instant coffee packets or tea bags. You want to add your Coffee Mate in it, so you pour it into your coffee. The moment you see the colors swirl in the mug, you realize that you are without a paddle. What are you going to use to stir your coffee? Why don’t you have utensils? What else are you going to eat with in your dorm room? Why was this not on the thousands of lists that you wrote for every time you went to Target?
Here is a list of things that you will need for your dorm room that most lists do not include.
Food Items (assuming you have a fridge, freezer, and microwave)
A mini side effect from eating in dining halls and to-go cafes is criminal mastermind-ness. I’m not advocating you stealing utensils from dining halls, but every time you go to a place where free cutlery is provided, take a few extra to keep in your room. That is, if you don’t have your own set in your dorm already. Take a few from home before you leave. Midnight mac and cheese meals happen more often than you think.
2. Bowls, Paper plates, mugs, drinking cups
Meals made in your dorm room are going to need the full shebang. Make sure your plates and bowls are microwaveable. (No plastic or Styrofoam unless you have certain things you don’t plan on using for the microwave). Unless you are very strict about cleaning up after yourself, you aren’t going to be washing your dishes in your room every single day, so multiple cups, or maybe disposable cups to use when you brush your teeth or want to drink some orange juice will really help. You can store the utensils and serving ware in a small plastic storage bin when you’re not using it.
3. A fridge, freezer, and microwave combo
This. Saves. Lives. Meal plans go fast. With a fridge, freezer, and microwave combo, you can save yourself some money/swipes by storing snacks in here and cooking instant meals. I bought PB&J essentials and breakfast foods for those on-the-go mornings (literally every day) and days when the elevator was broken and I was not going to walk up and down seven stories to get a burrito. Fridge, freezers, and microwave combos are available to rent through companies that the schools select themselves. UCLA uses Collegiate Concepts.
4. A variety of sweaters
This depends on where you are going to school, but sweaters definitely take the most wear-and-tear out of all clothes. I like having drape-y sweaters when I’m studying, and I like having sweatshirts when I have to walk to my classes in the cold. Plus, the temperature is always changing, so if you have multiple sweaters of multiple thicknesses, you’ll be prepared for anything!
5. Extra socks and underwear
Take the amount of socks and underwear that you wear regularly at the moment, and triple it. The longest people go without doing laundry (from what I have experienced) is around 3 weeks, and it’s not healthy to wear the same underwear over and over again. Costco has these great athletic socks that come in bulk and they fit well with most shoes.
6. An umbrella
No hood can save you, anywhere. That’s just it.
7. A beanie
Walking up and down hills when the wind is blowing at like 10 mph (during El Nino) is a nightmare for people like me who don’t even spend that much time on their hair. Beanies stop the wind from messing up your hair, and keeps your face warm until you reach the top of the hill. I went from owning zero beanies to five beanies in just a few weeks because the weather was freakishly windy. H&M has cute beanies with ears on them in case you don’t want to bust out your skiing gear and ruin that ~California vibe~
8. A hat
The same goes for when it becomes hot. I wear my UCLA hat and sunglasses walking to class on the hot days and it definitely keeps my face cooler. Most professors don’t say anything about not wearing hats inside buildings, but if you feel uncomfortable you can always slip into a bathroom to take it off and fix your hair.
School Supplies (my second favorite after food)
9. Two staplers
Carry one in your backpack and put one on your desk. You might never need it, but there might be one day in your entire college career when you save a classmate’s life by letting them staple their papers.
Duct tape, washi tape, Scotch tape, clear tape, painter’s tape. You don’t have to buy out the tape section, but duct tape comes in handy when you’re moving, washi tape comes in handy when you’re studying or filling in a planner, and painter’s tape comes in handy when you want to decorate your walls! (Pro tip: do NOT use double sided sticky foam tabs to put up ANYTHING on your walls… my roommate did that and it tore the paint off the walls just a few days before move-out. Talk about stress.)
11. Rubber bands of every size
These make GREAT textbook holders if you don’t have a textbook stand. You can slip them on the pages of your book and prop your book up against something else. (Or you could… you know… buy a textbook stand). I use rubber bands to keep my pens and pencils separated, and also to store papers together that I don’t need anymore after midterms but want to hold on to them until the end of the quarter.
12. Storage bins
If you live in a dorm with your own bathroom, having your own storage drawers is a great way to create more space in your room and also make those tile floors and Home Depot lights feel a little more home-y. I bought a three-drawer storage shelf and it fit perfectly underneath the sink that was waist-high.
13. Deodorizing spray for the bathroom
If you have never had to deal with your own fumes at home, you will be forced to confront them in college. Deodorizing spray like Febreeze or Lysol is great and everyone will get the message and use it after their business. Just make sure you replace it when it runs out.
14. Disinfecting wipes
Disinfect door knobs, sink faucets, and your desk every so often. It is not fun when everyone in the room has a full-on cold and you are all trying to power through midterms. The moment your roommate sneezes start disinfecting everything.
15. An iron and ironing board
I bought one of those mini table-top dorm room ironing boards at Target and a regulalr iron and it has been a lifesaver. The hook on the mini boards make it easy to store in your closet, and the table-top legs make it super easy to iron without getting in anyone’s way. I’ve also heard that you can make grilled cheese with an iron, so if you happen to have bread and cheese, the iron might come in handy more often. (Although I don’t recommend it because you risk 1) Messing up the iron 2) Ruining your clothes 3) Burning something and setting off the fire alarm… then the whole building will have to evacuate which will be a nightmare)
16. Shower shoes
Shower shoes are not just for avoiding a fungus from the shower, but from the carpet as well! Dorm room carpets get NASTY, so make sure you also make good use of the floor vacuum when you can.
17. A stuffed animal of some sort
People who say “You don’t want to be the one who takes your teddy bear to move-in day” are the ones who cry themselves to sleep at night because they left their teddy bears at home and are fully aware their college experience would be a thousand times better if Mr. Figgy was there with them. Don’t even sweat other students on move-in day. It’s your college experience, and they are not there to make you feel better, Mr. Figgy is.
I would have bought this Goofy doll if I wasn’t a broke college student saving my money for PB&J and a trip to Disneyland. Oh, and textbooks too.
18. Knick-knacks for your desk
Don’t go through an entire quarter or semester with nothing on your desk! I didn’t have anything on my desk for an entire quarter and it was super sad and boring. The featured photo is my desk on move-in day but that was still really depressing since it was mostly my textbooks, storage spaces, and Kleenex. By the last quarter I had Tsum tsums, contraband Christmas lights, a piggy bank, knitting items, a framed photo of my dogs, and lots of colorful pens.
Case in point:
(Yeah, those lights are not allowed right there, so don’t do this. But this is what it would look like if you put little lanters up. Yes, that is a Christmas tree. It was nice.)
19. Motivational posters
I kid you not when I say that my dorm room had three photos of Shia LaBeouf in his “Just Do It” video. We placed them on the door, in the bathroom, and above the window where he overlooked the room. In times of despair, we did look at the Shia signs and he supported us. Motivational posters in little places around the room can bring light to your dark days.
I hope this list helps. Living in the dorms is a learning process and will take a while to get used to and feel comfortable in. These are just a little tidbits to make the worst a little easier to survive.