College is all about finding your own style. When there are so many different faces in a new place, it’s helpful to have a space you can come back to, a space you can call home and a space that reminds you of your individuality.
Residence hall living is a big step toward life on your own. It’s helpful to think of your room as a blank canvas, ready to be made into what you need for a successful college career. Here are a few tips to make sure your residence hall is a place you can call home.
1. “Bad” roommates don’t exist
A roommate is a great opportunity for support and friendship throughout the college experience, especially for newcomers to the housing system. The roommate finder used by University Housing is a great way to find other like-minded individuals. It’s hard not to find someone who you connect with, whether through common interests or personality traits.
Of course, there may be a few things that require patience and acclimation. If you can’t sleep because your roommate is up until 3 a.m. screaming at their video games, they wouldn’t mind if you were to politely set some boundaries. Avoidance is the single worst thing you can do for your relationship.
Believe it or not, people like to have structure. Defined house rules can keep both you and your roommate satisfied. Marking off your half of the room so your roommate’s pile of collectible model airplanes doesn’t interfere with your morning yoga routine just makes sense.
The roommate agreements new students fill out can be an effective way of putting all your living habits and preferences down on paper, but only if you stand by them. Set aside times when you can hang out, recollect and bond. Remember, your roommate is going through the same transition that you are.
2. Your room is an extension of you
Your passions don’t leave you when you go to college. Making your room a haven for work and relaxation can help blur the lines between the two. Even if you’re only there for a semester, five months is far too long to be living in a space that does not reflect who you are.
Large rooms like those in the University Suites may seem daunting to decorate, but minimalism is in style and just a few personal items can tie the room together. This doesn’t have to mean anything expensive, it can be anything that makes you feel comfortable and happy. Memorabilia from your bedroom at home like photographs or other nostalgic artifacts displayed in the open can act as a greeting back to your roots.
It can be a different story if you’re living in one room with two bunk beds on either side and a bathroom down the hall like in Harper or Smith halls. If you love Applebee’s and want your room to have the same atmosphere, the walls of these more quaint spaces can be easily packed to the gills with sports bar stuff or whatever floats your boat.
It can be fun to let the decor serve as a museum of your life in college. Banners, flags or pictures from your last greek formal can act as a testament to your college experience.
3. Your bed is a tool
The importance of sleep, especially for college students, can’t be understated. Your bed should be a place to recharge. The more time you spend sitting up in bed watching makeup tutorials, the harder it will be for you to actually use it for its intended purpose.
If you’re a person who finds comfort in generic mattresses, kudos. For those who need a little extra comfort to get a good night's rest, consider investing in a mattress pad. Everyone sleeps differently, so your bed is part of your individuality and overall comfort. You have the option to have your bed lofted, and if you do, be sure to check with your residence advisors about a ladder and guard rail.
4. Sources of sustenance
Whether you have a mini fridge in an Abel Hall one-roomer or a spacious monstrosity in The Village, food has a tendency to get pushed to the back of the shelf. Once a week, take a good, long whiff and a peek behind the corners of your fridge to make sure nothing has spilled or gone bad.
For rooms with a built-in kitchen, making your own food forces you to really watch what you put into your body. It’s too easy to just trek to the dining hall every day and eat everything in sight, but self-awareness is tangential to happiness.
5. Good lighting makes the mood
UNL residence halls are keen on providing even light that fills the space. While more dispersed lighting can be great for studying as it provides little distraction, an inviting living space should have enough additional lighting to brighten the area without the help of the ceiling fixtures. If fluorescent lighting rubs you the wrong way, there are a few tricks to remedy the situation.
Lava lamps, salt lamps, fairy lights or even a simple hanging bulb could bring a spark of life to your living space. Proper lighting can be meditative and cathartic, and having a place to recollect after a long day of studying could be just what the doctor ordered.
Your residence hall space is a blank slate for you to make it whatever you want. With a creative mind and a vision to act upon, this blank slate could be a homey little area for you to be yourself.