My first day at Tufts, I remember walking into my triple for the first time. I took in the three uncovered mattresses, three empty desks, three barren bookshelves, three short sets of drawers, and three unfilled wardrobes, and I thought, “well, it certainly isn’t home, but it will do.” And it did.
Now, over three years later, my mentality is different; I have two homes — my home at Tufts and my home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In fact, just today when I took an Uber with a very irresponsible driver, I texted my dad after to tell him that I was “home.” So how did I go from an empty room full of someone else’s on-loan furniture, to feeling like Tufts was home? Here are some tricks and tips.
First, it is so important to decorate. I’m no interior decorator, and neither are my family members. I remember the struggle of trying to get my minimalist brother to invest in a poster or picture of some kind for his room when he came to Tufts. He insisted that he didn’t want or need anything, but my mom made him choose a map to hang over his bed. The map was always falling down, much to his chagrin.
Perhaps, the tapestry vibe isn’t the way to go. I’ve always preferred lighter decorations that can easily be hung with command hooks, like a small canvas painting or picture. Ever since my first year, I’ve proudly displayed a painting of an elephant, created by my amazingly artistic middle school friend, Anjini. The next year, when I rushed Theta, my big, Hannah, gifted me Theta canvases that her big had given her. These pieces are meaningful to me, because they were made with love by friends.
Another favorite part of my room is my bulletin board, which features my friends and family members. Every year, I add more recent pictures to the board — my only rule is that they have to be of friends from home, since those are the friends I don’t get to see. The bulletin board is also a really nice way to easily introduce my home friends to my school friends, and I’ve spent plenty of nights using it to tell my Tufts friends about my important relationships from home.
Speaking of night, the lightswitches in each room are in different places, which means that the switch may be on the other side of the room. In order to keep myself from tripping over every freely strewn shoe as soon as I turn off the main lights, I always hang string lights above my bed. My sophomore year, I even made the string lights into an elephant shape (with the help of a lottt of Scotch tape).
Lastly, I’ve learned over time that it is crucial to bring something meaningful from home. My first time back in Pennsylvania was Thanksgiving of my first year, and I remember absolutely raiding the fridge for all of the home food I didn't get to eat at school. I realized that I really missed my parent’s cooking and the foods I ate so regularly without thought. Even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were totally different at school without my mom’s jam. I learned from that experience, and now I bring a jar of my mom’s homemade black raspberry jam to school with me each semester.
Moving to a new place can be really hard, and if you ask any college student, I think you would find that we’ve all experienced a moment of hesitation before walking into our new empty rooms, wondering how they could ever feel like ours. My Emma’s Advice is to choose a few things that will make your room feel like yours. I’m not quite sure when it happened, but somehow between Anjini’s elephant painting and my mom’s simple jar of jam, I found home.