In high-school, I romanticized what college would be like. I watched shows like Gossip Girl, and envisioned my future dorm room to have brick walls and hardwood floors. Desks made of mahogany, and a library on every floor. When I took campus tour after campus tour, I realized dorm rooms weren’t as luxurious as I imagined. They were just rooms. With sh*tty carpeting, a closet and sometimes a desk.
Since freshman orientation started in mid-August for me, I was the first of my friends to leave for college. We made a huge production of it; we played sad songs and baked cupcakes and they helped me decide what to bring and what to leave behind. Packing for college is kind of like packing for a really long vacation. You can’t pack it all, but you need more than just the basics. If you’re living in the dorms your first year of school, you need to keep it pretty minimal, since dorm rooms are roughly the size of a C-lister’s walk-in closet. Like, not terrible, but not super glam either. I lived with two other girls because of campus construction or something, so it was preeeetty tight.
SO, is your new college life going to be plush? Probably not! But that’s totally okay because you’re getting your degree, not spending the semester with the Kardashians. You won’t be able to bring everything along, so here’s what you can expect to lose:
1. Your comfortable bed.
Every dorm room mattress is extra narrow, and extra hard. It’s made of springs and petroleum products, and it will destroy every muscle in your body. To combat this treachery, you should totally invest in a mattress pad. They range from cheap to stupidly expensive, but I got mine at Target, and it made beauty sleep a little less painful.
2. Personal space.
When you’re living with one to two other people, you can’t just flippantly change out of your dress, or invite a dude back to your room without clearing it with your dorm mates. Your room is no longer solely yours. You have others to accommodate, and hopefully they’ll do the same.
3. Home-cooked meals from your mom who knows your favorite food.
Kidney beans out of a can? Check. Grilled cheese made with so much oil you could probably use it to fill up your car? Check. Eggs probably made from space age powder? Hell yes. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. Most cafeteria food isn’t that bad! Mine even offered vegetarian options, which was very cool. However, it’s just not the same as coming home to your mom or dad cooking a pot of their special chili, or in my case, my mom’s Russian food. Man, I had no idea how much I loved borsht until I couldn’t have it for four months.
4. Closet space.
Don’t pack a lot. Don’t pack that random gold skirt you got at American Apparel back when American Apparel gold skirts were cool. Don’t pack that sweater you almost like. Pack the clothes you are positive you will wear, because your closet and wardrobe space is very modest. OR, invest in those bags that suck all the oxygen out of clothes and shrink them.
5. Your bookshelf.
Your dorm room probably won’t have a bookshelf. Which is kind of silly, since college is for reading words that live in books, but whatever. Mine didn’t, and since I majored in English, I had to get creative. I think I piled all my Norton anthologies together and created a night stand. Since technology is super cool and helpful for matters like these, you can also just download the e-version of your textbook and save space and trees!
6. Your flexible bedtime.
Either you go to bed when your roommates go to bed, or you stay up when your roommates stay up. OR, you can pack up your laptop and books and head to the library. Of course, that’s always kind of eerie when it’s past midnight.
7. A shower of one’s own.
Your shower is bound to get clogged every other week or so because it’s being utilized by several women with (probably) longish hair. It’s also going to get gross ten times faster than if only one person was using it. And your shampoos and soaps? Consider them public property, because who doesn’t like sampling beauty products?
8. The proximity of grocery stores (sometimes) and other useful places.
I didn’t have a car my first year, and I know a lot of schools implement a no-car policy for at least your freshman year. So, going to Target for tampons, McDonald’s for your fries fix, or the grocery store for fruit that isn’t out of a can is going to prove difficult. You may resort to begging people with cars.
9. Your beloved pets!
You can’t bring any animals with you, which is very sad because cute, furry animals can be very therapeutic in times of stress (read: midterms and finals).
10. Laundry freedom.
The laundry room has peak hours, so you will want to try your hardest to avoid them, because waiting to do your laundry is the worst. Also, people get kind of aggressive when it comes to clothes. I remember taking someone’s laundry out of the dryer after it had been sitting there for an hour, putting my clothes in, and then coming back to find my clothes on the table, still damp. Yup. Laundry vengeance exists.
11. The assurance of your hometown.
I guess I never really appreciated my hometown much. Knowing where everything is, the streets, the short-cuts to school and your friends’ houses is something we all take for granted. It takes being plopped in the middle of nowhere (in my case, Orange, California: antique store capital) to truly miss where you’re from. But don’t worry, because Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.