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Steps to Make Any Dorm an Oasis

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

1. Bring pictures from home.

I brought pictures of senior year, graduation cards that said some inspiring and really beautiful words that lifted me up when needed, and a couple of dried flowers that reminded me of people that I cared about. I strung them along my pin board above my bed with fairy lights and clothespins so I could see them from bed at night. I even hung two of my Shakespeare masks and an lgbt flag. Anything that will remind you of the support you have even if they can not be with you directly in this new chapter of your life.

2. Don’t bring so much that you do not fit in your room with your stuff

Just because you can take your whole room and the kitchen sink from home, you will quickly discover it is a mistake. There should be enough stuff in your room so that it is comfortable and you aren’t constantly searching for things that are now a relic at your parentals house, but not so much you have to shuffle through all of the random crap to get to your desk. I was lucky enough that I could send stuff back with my parents when I brought to much. But, if you are 100’s of miles away from home this will not be a simple task.

As mentioned in article 1 in this series, if it can be purchased within 30 minutes for less than $30 and you aren’t sure if you’ll need it… leave it at home.


I got so much initial backlash from my mom about spending $80 on a 4 inch memory foam pad for my mattress and a nice comforter/blankets. I found affordable options, waited for sales, and did not go overboard. However, I think it is right that we spend more money making the thing we spend guaranteed time in (almost) every night rather than spending that money on random decorations from home goods we may not even notice are up once moved in.

If your dorm was anything like mine at UC Davis, your bed is not only the place you sleep at night. It is your couch for friends, napping landing spot, netflix movie night location, and “the place we do homework when we are too lazy to clear off our desk” desk. It should be more comfortable than the preschool gym pad mattress that is provided.

Trust me, not everyone heed this advice and is the sole reason I ended up with friends stopping in to take naps in my room between their classes whether I was there for the whole nap or not.

Sleep is so so important. Good quality sleep that is. You don’t want to be tossing and turning all night and waking up in pain from a spring stabbing you in the ribcage.

(Picture of bed)


I don’t care what meal plan you are on or if there is not a kitchen in your dorms or whatever other excuses you will respond to this with. There will come a night when you are studying in your room at 2am and be left with no options.

If you have a fridge and microwave, keep a small stock of healthy and yummy snack/ lunch/ breakfast food. My roommate and I had our weekly Trader Joes haul each week that reminded pretty consistent of frozen mango and raspberries, hummus and carrots, bananas, (GF) bread, peanut butter, etc. We also had non-perishables like chips, chocolate, fruit snacks, popcorn (ALL THE POPCORN ALL THE TIME) and some sort of dessert.

Don’t let yourself starve. It isn’t worth it, I promise.

We also kept a solid stock of teas, hot chocolate, emergency, instant coffee, and some other fun drink around in the dorm. If you can, bring a Brita or some kind of water filter. So many of my neighbors hauled up flats of water bottles; it waste so much plastic and is an unnecessary expense. I understand some of you **cough cough** CLAIRE, are water snobs and won’t drink tap, a Brita will save you. The dining commons will not always be open for you and you will get thirsty. Not having the things you are comfortable and enjoy drinking around should not be a stressor present.

5. Bring a couple of your favorite books, music, and movies from home… but just a couple.

You don’t need to bring many, and definitely do not need to bring the whole collection, but having a few books and entertainment items from home will definitely serve as a comfort and good source of entertainment in times of “need” or boredom. I brought some of my favorite psychology books and two favorite fiction novels that I went back to most often, a couple of my first jazz CD’s (along with my ipod, having a spotify account, and access to youtube), and like 5 movies that I switched out at Christmas break.

Now this will differ with your preferences and personality for sure. If you don’t own CD’s and everything is digital, just make sure you have a way to access it. AND HEADPHONES. I do not know how many hours I spent searching for my misplaced headphones, but it was a lot. Trust me, if living in a double or triple, they are a NECESSITY.

If you have streaming services and do not really care about having DVD’s, then don’t bring them. If you don’t read except when you are forced to, don’t bring books from home either. Bring whatever you reach for entertainment wise at home.

Also, check in with housing services to see if you get access to any entertainment by living there. I know in my dorms we got access to this housing with comcast partnership thing where we got free access to movies and tv shows they selected each quarter or so. We mostly used it for floor movie nights, but still was a nice option to have. I typically stuck with Netflix and youtube, but others definitely got use from it. We also had a TV on the main floor that had cable. You just had to fight for it sometimes.

6. Make a list before you start packing for school of all the things you reach for on a daily basis.

(And then, you know, bring those things… within reason)

I.e. toiletries, (ladies - tampons etc for at least a month or 2 ), laptop, phone, other electronics and their cases/chargers, booklight, a favorite pillow and or blanket, headphones, slippers, etc. I don’t know your life. This is your job.

P.S. If your animals names made it on this list, I am sorry. They have to stay at home. Get a stuffed animal and a picture to take with you. I brought my body pillow. We all have to suffer through it. You can do it to and wait to get all your snuggles at break.

7. Bring the necessities for you to stay sane and healthy

I brought things like, idk, my medications, medical insurance card, yoga mat, and workout clothes/running shoes.

8. Robe, Slippers, and Sweatshirts OH MY!

Ladies, gents, folx. It does not matter. You may tell yourself you do not need comfy clothes. You do.

You. Deserve. Them.

There will come a time when you really have to pee and you are not going to dig out shoes for that. There will be a time when you have been studying for like 6 hours, the air conditioner won’t kick off, and you really need to go down the hall or down stairs to get water. Are you going to put on real pants or a bra or a shirt to go do that? NO! But you will have a sweatshirt and it will be your best friend. I promise you.

Well there you have it friends. My top 8 bits of gold to have your dorm experience be the comfiest and least stressful thing as it possibly can be. College is hard. New people and living quarters are awkward and challenging to figure out so don’t make it even harder on yourself.

You got this!

Comment below with questions or what your favorite dorm additions were to make it an oasis instead of a stress zone 3.0

Warm fuzzies and hoodies,

Ana Marie


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