As a freshman this year, I am all too familiar with this dilemma: what to bring to college. The most common responses from friends and family are the essentials — what you’re going to need. They tell you to bring storage containers, your favorite snacks and your favorite fall clothes. But they very rarely remind you to bring the things that you want. They forget to mention pictures with friends and band posters, even though decorating your dorm room is the first thing you'll want to do when you begin unpacking.
These are the items that make you comfortable in your own space. What makes the room your room? In the following article, I will reveal what items students tend to pick over others. Do they value their fairy lights most or their coffee makers? Their pictures or their chalkboards? To find out, I took a poll on one of my social media platforms, asking the opinions of many SU students as well as some friends from back home.
Personally, when I think of dorm decorations, fairy lights are the first thing that come to mind. They’re the most often spotted on Pinterest and they come in handy late at night when the full lights are too much. They are by far the favorite part of my room, where I have have clips to hang my Polaroid pictures from.
Pinterest can be a great tool to use when one is looking for inspiration for decorating their room. When I searched "dorm room decor," I was expecting fairy lights to be the first result to pop up after how often I’ve seen them online, although going against my prior judgement as well as the poll, there were no fairy lights even on the first page! The online poll showed that 40% of the votes said that fairy lights were the best decor. Everyone seemed to love the soft comfort and familiarity of fairy lights.
In second place, coming in with just about 26% of the vote, were wall decorations. This includes pictures, posters, plants and tapestries. This I had expected. Posters are an obvious necessity because they almost always involve something sentimental about either family, friends or a hobby. I have lots of posters hung in my room from the shows I’ve been in, and I’ve seen friends with posters supporting sports teams on their walls and others with decorative tapestries representing their heritage or reminding them of a family member.
But the most popular wall decor is pictures. Pictures of siblings, parents, cousins, friends and anything else that students miss about back home or sentimental memories they’ve made. I have many of these hung on my wall, mostly of my sisters and friends from back home. They help to get our heads out of the stresses of school and to remember “the good old days” and the “way back whens."
Up next, with 13% of the vote, are message boards. These include letter boards, cork boards and dry-erase boards. Mine, having hung in my room at home, is checkered with magnets and little notes that my family and friends have written for me. Others around the building have letter boards outside their dorm rooms with the names of their roommates or dry-erase boards with calendar cut-outs where they put reminders about upcoming assignments and deadlines.
Unsurprisingly, the next-most cherished item to have in a dorm was a bed. Every college student loves their sleep, and beds are the most basic comfort items that we can always run to whenever our days get tough. Even when our moms are so far away, our beds and our fuzzy blankets always seem to help on those rough days. Naps are also a frequent pastime on a college campus, where students stay up all night to finish that paper for their eight a.m. class that they didn’t start until nine the night before.
Last on the list, coming in with the same number of votes (under 5%) were coffee makers and tea makers, instruments or record players and a fan. I don’t know how I would live without my mini Keurig, and I have bunch of friends who carry full boxes worth of tea-making equipment. Caffeine, like sleep, is an essential part of college life, no matter what medium we get it from. Instruments are just another comfort item.
Music releases dopamine — the happy hormone — and makes us feel happy and comforted. In a way, it’s almost like a kind of medicine. Some doctors are even looking into music therapy. They’ve recommended that pregnant women turn on classical music hoping that their children will be born with a higher inclination for physical and mental development.
Lastly, a small fan in a room can do wonders for air circulation. This would be extra important for anyone staying in St. Martin Hall this summer. Overall, students seemed to value the soft light of fairy lights and the sentimentality of pictures and posters the most. They take us out of the humdrum and out of our own heads, and they help us to relax and remember what really matters. They help us release the stress of college life and sit back on a Friday night with fairy lights and a face mask on while remembering fun times and reminiscing about old memories.
By DAELYN FUNK
Featured photos from Pinterest.