It wasn’t until the last week of September that my roommate and I turned our dorm into a “home.” With the chaos of orientation, new friends, and new classes, it was almost impossible to find time to decorate and by the end of the month, we found that a few string lights and a picture or two of friends from home just wasn’t cutting it. Though we both loved the space itself, my roommate and I agreed that it didn't quite feel like “home,” and in the first month of school, a little touch of “home” sounded pretty darn appealing. As a result, we dedicated the last week of September to doing what we could to feel at home, at school.
Lesson One: Get Comfortable with Blank Space
I learned this first lesson the hard way. In desperately scrambling to brighten up the room, I plastered pictures on every square inch of every flat surface I could reach. Within twenty minutes, I was sick of it. My roommate, on the other hand, gave her walls some breathing room. Rather than try and cover every last square inch of unattractive cinder block, she accepted the white walls and decorated tastefully, working with rather than against the room we were given. In leaving space open, our room opened up. It began to feel warmer, livelier than before, and the emptiness gave way to a comfort that made the goal of the dorm-to-home transformation feel a little more within reach.
Lesson Two: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
Though putting up pictures of the people you love seems like an obvious move, it’s one that I’ve seen a lot of people gloss over, and one that I, myself, forgot to do. After going through the exhausting social exercises that define most first-years' first months, putting up favorite pictures of friends from home gave me the boost that I needed to feel relaxed and loved in my space. Honestly, coming home to the smiling face of an old friend made it a lot easier to summon the strength to make new ones. Once my roommate and I hung up photos from home, our space felt like it was well on its way.
Lesson Three: Invest in Greenery!
On one of the rare days that both my roommate and I had the same morning free, we decided to walk into Davis Square to buy plants from a local nursery. In my opinion, the decision to add some "life" to our windowsill was crucial to changing the way we felt about our room. Not only did the plants brighten up the space, but they gave us a routine--a shared responsibility without the pressure of a pet. Finally, our room became more than just a place to sleep or recap the day’s trials and triumphs, but an actual home on campus. These plants were the perfect finishing touch.
Now, with one month down and with these lessons coming to fruition in my dorm, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a home on this campus. Plants, pictures, and space are only a sample of the small ways in which I, and all of the first-years here, have tried to establish comfort in this new community, but sometimes it’s the little things that count the most. Ultimately, it’s not the things but the people that make a home a "home," and I’m so lucky to say that I’m finding my way with both and finally beginning to settle in for the next four years.
An ode to my T1 family.
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