Although few first-time college students care to admit it, homesickness can and does happen. After all, when you go from your safe, comfortable family home to a small room with institutional white walls and shared bathroom facilities, it’s easy to start feeling lost and alone.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make your dorm room feel like home. Although space will always be limited (and you’ll have to do the cleaning and laundry yourself), here are a few tips for staving off homesickness and feeling good about the place you call your own.
> The Bed: In a dorm room, your bed becomes everything—couch, chairs, study corral, dining table, and more. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a space you feel good about. If you splurge anywhere in your room, let it be on quality bedding and lots of pillows.
> Soft Lighting: There’s a reason twinkle lights and playful lamp fixtures are common in dorm rooms—they give you an alternative to the harsh fluorescents overhead. A desk lamp for studying and a string of holiday lights over your bed will go a long way in making your room more inviting.
> Floor Coverings: Most dorm rooms have either linoleum floors, durable carpeting, or some other high-traffic flooring that’s long-lasting, uncomfortable, and generally ugly. Purchase a rug that will not only brighten up the space, but also provide a much-needed sitting space for when you have company.
> Fancy Artwork: Dorm rooms are known for being covered in posters and photos. While these things are fine, we suggest you class things up a bit by investing in one or two larger pieces that tie the whole room together. Frame a favorite poster instead of just tacking it up on the wall. Put up a bulletin board or chalkboard that allows you to decorate and organize at the same time. Create a collage out of favorite sayings and photos. By making an engaging visual as the focal point of your room, the decorations will feel less haphazard.
> Live Plants: There’s something about greenery that makes even the most sterile room feel like home. Find a plant that won’t mind if it doesn’t get too much sunshine (or if you forget to water it every day), and put it in a colorful pot.
> Play with Washi Tape: Washi tape is colorful, playful, decorative, and—best of all—it doesn’t leave residue behind, which means most dorm rooms will allow you to put it up. It’s also fairly inexpensive, which means you can add a touch of color around posters, on bookshelves, on doors, and on your walls without spending a fortune.
Although most dorms won’t let you hang shelves, it’s also a good idea to use vertical space whenever possible. Raise your bed so you can use the underneath space for seating or storage. Stack fridges and other large items on top of storage carts for extra space. By using the air between ceiling and floor for everyday storage, you can leave more space for the things that make you feel most at home.