Tori Smith – Opinion Columnist
After the third or fourth year on a residential campus, Gustavus students become pretty familiar with dorm living. As a senior myself I would consider myself an expert.
My three years of dorm experience have given me the opportunity to share with others who may be new to this type of living arrangement.
One of the biggest challenge’s students face in Gustavus dorms is vacuuming.
Years ago, we would find a full-size vacuum in our floor hall closet, only few ever-found ones that actually worked. Whether it no longer sucks or simply won’t turn on, it’s fair to say that many of these vacuums have seen better days, now Res Life has taken away even the idea of vaccuming.
That’s why one of my smartest purchases as a first-year was a handheld vacuum.
While not so great for huge messes, that little thing was excellent at picking up crumbs under my desk (because who doesn’t love a good saltine cracker before bed?), rocks and dirt that would collect by the front door, and spilled potting soil after the incident in 2020.
Another challenge dorm life presents a lot of students with is lack of space, especially for the avid shoe shopper. For these individuals I strongly suggest a hanging shoe organizer.
These hang over a door and typically include around 24 pockets for shoes or other miscellaneous items that seem to get in the way. I’ve even seen some students use it to hold their snacks.
Speaking of snacks, one of the most important items to have in a dorm is food. Not having a kitchen can be tough, especially when the only dining hall on campus is a 5 to 10 minute walk away or braving a Minnesota winter.
That’s why ramen is a college student’s best friend. It’s cheap, non-perishable, and super easy to cook. For those nights when a walk to the caf just isn’t going to happen, ramen comes to the rescue.
Which leads me into my next essential dorm item: a soup mug. Soup mugs are exactly what they sound like. A big mug for soups and other fine dishes such as ramen.
They’re microwave-safe, easy to clean, and easy to store away. Plus, who doesn’t want a giant mug?
For those students who tend to seriously suffer during the dry winter months, a mini air humidifier is a must-have.
There’s nothing worse than having to sleep with socks on your hands or waking up with a dry, scratchy throat. I’ve always suffered from dry skin in the winter, so this little device quickly became my best friend.
All I have to do is fill it with water and keep it on overnight. I’ve found that the closer I sleep next to it the better the benefits. No more dry, scratchy throat, and my socks always stay on my feet.
On the other side of the spectrum, students need something for the hot, restless nights in the early fall and late spring. Since many of the Gustavus dormitories don’t have air conditioning, there has to be a way for students to cool down during these warmer months.
The answer? Fans, fans, fans. Get all the fans.
I always had at least two in my dorm room, a rotating pedestal fan and a clip-on fan that I’d position a foot away from my face so I could be as cool as possible. It worked like a charm.
Another essential item I’ve found to be a pleasant addition to my dorm life experience are plants.
When given enough TLC, plants can be the perfect decoration for any space. Additionally, they can also help with emotional and mental health.
Research shows that plants have been associated with “reduced anxiety and stress, attention deficit recovery, fractals and visual response, decreased depression, enhanced memory retention, greater happiness and life satisfaction, mitigation of PTSD, increased creativity, enhanced productivity and attention, and improved self-esteem”, according to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture (2019).
A few low-maintenance plants that are recommended for beginning plant parents are snake plants, spider plants, golden pothos, and succulents.
Lastly, the most important dorm essential is none other than the famous Command strips. These sticky little strips are the best pieces of equipment a college student can own. Putting up posters, paintings, tapestries, lights, or hooks has never been easier.
Command strips are a dorm student’s dream come true. I find myself buying more and more every year as I find more and more things to put on my walls.
Now that my dorm-living years are over, the memories of eating ramen out of my super cool soup mug, buying my first plant for my tiny windowsill, and trying, with no luck, to use the school vacuums make me slightly nostalgic.
Enjoy dorm life while it lasts, kids.