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10 unexpected things you’ll wish you packed for your dorm room

July 26, 2022

As someone who moved halfway across the country and lived in residence for two years, I learned a few things along the way.  The biggest one is how to survive comfortably in a small space without all the luxuries of home. As a first-year student, especially if you’re the first in your family to go away from school, there are some things you think you need but don’t. Then there are some things that you don’t even think of but won’t survive long without.  So learn from my experiences and be sure to check this list for things you might be missing for your dorm. (Click each listed item for a shoppable link).

A fan

Dorm rooms, are small, cramped and rarely have sufficient airflow.  Having a fan will save you the first few weeks of school while the weather is still nice and help keep temperature-related arguments with your roommate to a minimum.  Not to mention your roommate will almost 100% like the room at the opposite temperature than you. Do you like it cold? They’ll like it hot. 


Foldable drying rack

Now that your laundry is 100% your responsibility, you’ll realize just how many things shouldn’t go in the dryer - and you will definitely shrink at least one top.  From nice shirts to good athletic wear (lululemon + dryer = death) a drying rack will be used more often than you think. But make sure it’s foldable because every inch of floor space in your dorm room is valuable square footage.


HDMI cable/Adapter

Whether it's to connect to a projector in class or hooking your laptop up to a TV to stream Netflix, you’ll inevitably need an HDMI cable at some point.  With so many different types of technology, it’s best you come prepared and bring your own that is guaranteed to work with your laptop model (I’m looking at you mac users).

Sleep mask

Just like with room temperatures, there’s a good chance your roommate will be a morning person when you’re… well, definitely not a morning person. A sleep mask will keep you sleeping peacefully in the dark even if the sun is up or your roommate needs the lights on, always allowing you to get that ever-important beauty sleep.

Slip-on shoes

Everyone thinks about shower shoes, but what about easy-to-slip-on shoes for going to and from friends’ rooms or the cafeteria?  Slippers, slides or Birkenstocks are some freshmen favs. My personal favourite is crocs. 


“But I’ll have unlimited access to the cafeteria for all my meals!”  Trust me - you’ll still want a few Tupperware containers to store those late-night snacks in or use as popcorn bowls.  Also, having Tupperware makes ~not~ sneaking food out of the cafeteria in your coat a lot easier.


Mattress topper

This will be your saving grace.  The mattresses that come in your dorm might as well be Fred Flintstone’s bed. If you want any shot at having a good night's sleep over the next 8 months, you better invest in a decent mattress topper.

Shoe rack

Again, every inch of floor space is valuable in a dorm room, so having a good organizational system for your shoes is very important.  If you’re lucky enough that home is relatively close to the school and you know you’ll be visiting home before the snow hits, leave all your bulky winter boots at home and swap them for summer shoes when the winter weather starts.

Bonus item: a welcome/entrance mat to catch all the dirt off of your and your friends’ shoes when you enter your room.

All of the pillows

Over the next 8 months, your bed will double as a couch, a study space, and a safe place to ignore reality.  The more pillows you have, the more comfortable you can make it. Reading pillows are great for comfy Netflix binge sessions - I mean study sessions. Also if possible, bring the pillow you used at home.  You’ll appreciate the familiarity of it, plus it will be one less thing your body will have to adjust to physically.
By Guest Author