One of my least favorite things in the world is packing. Which is kinda funny, since I spend most of my summer living out of a suitcase. All the same, move-in day is this Monday, and I’m attempting to pack everything I need, while keeping in mind all that stuff I won’t need.
That’s the thing about all those ‘back to school’ college lists. They list a whole bunch of crap that you will NEVER use. Then it just ends up cluttering up your room for the nine months or so that you spend in a tiny dorm room packed in with another person. I for one, happen to be a huge bookworm. I have at least 45 ft worth of shelves in my bedroom at home for my books, and I ran out of space shortly after I graduated from high school (somehow aligning with the fact that I had gotten a job, and thus had a large amount of spare money that was just begging to be spent). In that new room I’ve been building all summer, I’m gonna have 70ft of shelf space, and I’m only praying that will be enough. My freshman year, I started out with five books in my dorm room. By the end of the year, I ended up having to carry home all the books I had accumulated over the year in about five different boxes (although to be fair, several books were textbooks).
My sophomore year I had a collection of maybe 20 DVDs that I brought to school, convinced that I couldn’t live without it. That collection didn’t grow as much, thank goodness, but the book collection underwent a similar freshman year phenomena.
Same thing happened junior year.
Oddly enough, I never read most of the books that I brought, I just never found the time/motivation/whatever to read them. Ditto with the DVDs – after all, they were already mine, I had already watched them half a dozen times.
So this year, during my great packing ordeal, I have finally decided: “Why Bother?” Seriously, with the way Netflicks is these days, I can always just subscribe to that and get any movies I want sent straight to my mailbox at school (the key to which I am hoping is somewhere in my bedroom). Another great thing is the school library – I was kinda amazed by the collection of DVDs they have to offer (all seven seasons of Buffy!).
Then you can always just borrow a book you want from the library, and if they don’t have it, more often than not another library has it (this works with movies, we totally found a way last year to get several seasons of Farscape through interlibrary loan).
Of course, I just got a brand new Kindle (generation 2, for those of you wondering), which I absolutely adore, for my birthday, and I’ve decided to use it for all my book needs. Not that I don’t love my ‘real’ non ebook books, I do. There is something about the smell of paper and the feeling of a book under my fingers that gets me all poetic.
But frankly, in a dorm room, that’s just not a practical option. With a kindle, you can have all your books in one tiny little package that takes up little room, and you can bring it around wherever you want. (It also has internet access, and while it doesn’t allow for much Facebook, you can still check and update twitter, if you happen to be the social networking type).
But books aside, let’s talk about computers.
Now I’ve done both sides of the coin. I’ve done the desktop computer, and I’ve done the laptop thing. Plus side to the desktop: Harder to break, often cheaper to get a good enough system to do heavy gaming, and a bigger monitor. Downside? Portability.
In a dorm room situation, desktops are normally only a really good idea if you are in a single. If you’re sharing your room, I honestly think laptop is the way to go. That way, if you need to go somewhere else to study, you can. It’s more easy to hide your laptop in case it’s decided that there will be a party in your room and you want to see how many people you can fit in a 180 square foot room that has all your stuff in it. It’s also good if you just wanna go home for the weekend (providing you live close enough) to visit and have homework you have to do.
Believe me, while by the end of freshman year I was a wiz at taking apart my Dell desktop and putting it back together in about five minutes – it’s not something you want to make a habit of.
Now if you happen to need a bigger monitor for your desktop, just buy one, and go double monitor. Better yet, buy a tv monitor and then it can double for both tv and your computer (I know one guy who uses a giant HD tv screen for his computer programing, kinda overwhelming, but geekily awesome).
However, if you don’t get a computer, most schools have labs you can go work in. With printers. So you don’t even really need to get a printer for your room, if you have good time management, make sure you get all your papers done in plenty of time to jog down to the computer lab to print everything off.
Although those printers are normally black and white printers, so if you want your colored pictures, you might just have to go with a color printer in your room.
Now onto Food:
Honestly, I know dorm food sometimes sucks, but it’s only for four years. Suck it up and bare with it. After all, you’re already paying 2,000 dollars a year for it (or at least I am), might as well make sure that money is going to good use. So while you might wanna have your microwaveable dinners in your dorm room, or get pizza delivered, I would suggest cutting back dorm room food to snacks and drinks only – maybe stuff for breakfast if you’re a late riser.
Doesn’t mean you can’t do all that stuff, but if you want to cut back on spending money (and not have to deal with unexpected moldy Bagel Bites), I would suggest cutting back on dorm room food.
Besides, I’ve seen many situations where unwashed dishes piled up in dorm rooms making them not very pleasant smelling.
Don’t bring everything you own. You aren’t going to wear it, and you don’t have a lot of space. Go through your stuff, and find what looks good on you. What you tend to wear the most.
And for goodness sake, don’t pack a lot of shoes. I tend to go with a five pairs of shoes rule:
Casual shoes (for going to class/hanging out)
Boots (good for both rain and snow)
Sexy Shoes (For that night you decide to look nice)
Slippers/Flip Flops (For wearing around the dorm room/bathroom so you don’t track dirt everywhere)
Technically you could probably merge the sneakers and the casual shoes together. So, four pairs of shoes.
That pretty much handles everything, and it leaves space in your closet so you can dump your laundry basket there so it isn’t out in the open. (And a note on the laundry – while laundry isn’t fun, neither is having to deal with the fact that all your clothes are dirty, and finding yourself mining through your clothes for a pair of socks or pants that look presentable and aren’t too stinky. Try to do your laundry once every two weeks, believe me, it makes your room a lot cleaner, smell nicer, and you don’t find yourself tripping over dirty underwear.)
Ok, so there is my what has become a fairly extensive post on some ideas about packing. Naturally you’re still going to want bedding (probably want to check on what size the beds are too, since the mattresses at my school are those long twin mattresses). And make sure you have laundry detergent (and put your name on it, just in case). Keep your bathroom stuff at a minimal too – often all you get is a tiny little cubby to shove your stuff in.
Besides, if worse comes to worse and you find you really need something – more often than not your local campus bookstore or whatever will have it.
Or Walmart. Because they have everything, and they’re cheap. (Even if we don’t necessarily like them).