01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, August 21, 2010
By Elspeth Lodge
Journal Staff Writer
JOURNAL PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Tool kit photos courtesy of Tomboy Tools; alarm clock photo courtesy of Nandahome.com; lamp and screen photos courtesy of studentmarket.com. Background photo: PROVIDENCE JOURNAL/KRIS CRAIG
As summer draws to a close, college students are unpacking their beach bags and starting to stress about what they need to pack for school. The problem many people have with the average dorm room is the lack of specificity –– the list might say “a lamp,” the question would then be, “What type of lamp should I get?”
You can, of course, head off to college without buying a thing and use things you already have. College is expensive enough!
But as a recent college graduate I find myself giving advice about what specifically students should bring to school that will make their lives easier and more colorful. Here is a list of fun and useful items that will add pizzazz to your day and color and style to your dorm room.
•The Best Dorm Room Pet Without a Pulse
Pets misbehave and make messes, they cost money, and between school and extracurricular activities, who has time to walk a dog every few hours or clean a gerbil cage every week? Consider a dorm room pet without a pulse.
Forget Gary Dahl’s 1975 pet rock fad –– sure you can give them commands like “Roll over,” “Play dead” or “Attack!,” but really, who are we kidding? Clocky, invented by an MIT graduate student, is a much cooler and trendier option. He will jump 3 feet from your nightstand and run away beeping to get you up-and-at-’em! No “snooze offenders” will survive Clocky’s wrath; you can only hit the snooze button once. When Clocky runs away beeping you will have to chase that naughty little critter around the room, just like you would a mischievous pet. Tocky is Clocky’s brother and records personal wake-up messages. He also plays your favorite MP3s as he rolls around your room. Tocky and Clocky are available through Nandahome.com, and Clocky is available at Nordstrom at Providence Place.
•A Lingerie Bag
I bet you didn’t realize that sock monsters really do exist. Every dorm in America has one in the communal laundry room. Socks go in the wash and are never seen again. There is a surprising way to ward off this dangerous beast –– just place your socks in a lingerie bag before putting them in the wash. Their chances of survival are greatly improved.
•The Five-Headed Floor Lamp
The five headed floor lamps will rid a dorm room of depressing fluorescent lighting –– and they give off a massive amount of light. The heads are often adjustable so no corner of the room will be dark. They come in many different styles and colors, so they add fun and personality to any room. And not only are some of them are really a bang for your buck at value stores like Target, they should last through college.
Most people don’t realize how much joy and life, a simple plant can bring to a drab cinderblock dorm room. Get a plant that’s easy to take care of and simply water it occasionally. In return it will be beautiful, it will banish that yucky dorm room smell, it will increase feelings of serenity, calmness and may help with concentration during stressful times. Plants will keep up your spirits by making your room like a bit more homey. According to Gardenguides.com, some plants also clean the air and help to promote a healthy body. Suggestions for air cleaning plants and easy dorm room plants to maintain include the Spider Plant, Dracaena, Aloe Vera, Ivy Bamboo Palm, Peace Lily, Chinese Evergreen, Ficus, Dumbcane, Weeping Fig and Bamboo palm, and many more.
•A Large Terry Cloth Robe
Ok, so, regular towels are fine –– but, when you are in a coed bathroom you might be more comfortable with a large robe to avoid any awkward moments. And don’t get one of those short or thin, silky or flannely ones for the long walk down the hall. Coverage is the word, ladies and gentlemen. Need I say more?
•A Water Filter
A way to save both money on bottled water, and save the environment by using less plastic, is to invest in a water filtering jug. It also assures you will not have to go down the hall every time you want a drink. They can be a bit expensive, but they will save you money in the long run.
Paperweights have many functions. The weight can stop papers from blowing around the room when a window is open –– which will be often. They can add personality to the work area, like a piece of art would. They can even act as doorstops. And, you don’t have to go out and buy a paperweight, find a pretty rock from your home state and stick it on your desk!
•An Exercise Ball or a Yoga Mat
In a small dorm room you can get restless; you’re going to be pretty stressed on a fairly regular basis from so much work and sitting or stretching on an exercise ball is a great tip because it is one of the most stress-relieving things you can do in a small space. And don’t be concerned about the ball taking up space, they act as great desk chairs. Try investing in one with friends and “bounce it around” from person to person, as needed.
•A Ladies Hammer and Screwdriver Set
Men, don’t be deterred by the title. Ladies Hammer and Screwdrivers Sets are small and very useful (hang pictures, unstick stuck desk drawers etc). Instead of bringing a whole toolbox to campus, try bringing a few select items; it will save lots of space and probably money, as most of the tools in a toolbox aren’t ever used in college. If you don’t have access to one of these sets, try just buying a small tool set that has the main items (screwdriver, hammer etc.) but make sure there are not too many extra items. You won’t need nails, because most colleges and universities prefer that you use some sort of stick tack or removable wall hooks to hang pictures and mirrors. Check with your college’s residence life department first.
•The Flameless Candle
Girls love candles and guys like them too (even though they probably won’t admit it). They at least know it’s a good way to mask the dirty laundry smell and lend atmosphere before they invite people over. . Real candles are a fire hazard in dorm rooms and are banned by all student life offices. So, to keep yourself safe try a battery operated flameless candle.
•Decorative Room Dividers
Room dividers come in many different heights and styles. They are the perfect solution for the roommates who have two very different styles or schedules, or for those who just want more privacy. They can hide your laundry — or block your view of your roommate’s. You can put one in the corner of the room; make your own dorm room changing room! They’re also great if you’ve been assigned a room on the ground floor.