Home Away From Home

Home Away From Home

Making a college residence hall a place of comfort

By Monique Mansour

The great British novelist Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Many of us would agree, but how does one create a home when a place of residence is meant to be a temporary space? College students near and far know this struggle all too well. For Nathaniel Shallal, Marie Kassa, and Patrick Najor Jr., the process of moving into a new residence hall and making it a home away from home is right around the corner.

First thing’s first: color! A good color scheme for a dorm room can instantly make it more cozy and comfortable, and it is a good plan of action to decide upon this before the packing begins.

“The one color scheme I will be keeping in mind for my college dorm is blue. My entire childhood and into high school my room at home was sports themed boarders with blue walls and a blue comforter. I plan on using a blue comforter in my dorm and bringing some posters from my room in order to feel a little bit more at home in East Lansing,” said Shallal, who is headed to Michigan State University to study international relations and economics at the James Madison College of public affairs and international relations.

Kassa, also headed to State, agrees that a color scheme is of utmost importance. “A color scheme makes the room look more organized and put-together. My theme is a rustic look with colors like sage green and pale pink.”

Once a color scheme has been settled upon, the packing list comes next. Patrick Najor Jr., who will attend Midland University this fall to play baseball and double major in entertainment sports and promotion management/entrepreneurship, understands that taking some time to relax is just as important as finding the time to study. “I will most definitely be bringing my PS4,” said Najor.

Other important items on the list for the soon-to-be college students are laptops. Shallal plans to take advantage of the back-to-school promotions that electronic companies like Apple offer this time of year. The students listed retailers such as Target, Home Goods, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond as places they will check out before making the big move to their respective universities.

Morgan Garmo, a junior at Albion College studying finance and journalism with a concentration in public policy is a veteran when it comes to decorating dorm rooms. “It may sound silly but having your towels and sheets match makes a dorm feel a lot more like home.” Her best piece of advice for college first-years? “Get all of your decorating done when you first move in or it will never happen,” Garmo said. “LED lights and pictures are really easy touches that make your room instantly more home-y.”

She also figured out a way to make a dorm space a comfortable place to snooze in between classes. “I brought my Eno Hammock from home with me to school,” said Garmo. “Sometimes you’ll have a break between classes that isn’t long enough to get a lot of work done, but it’s the perfect amount of time to nap!”

The pressure to make a residence room at college feel exactly like home can be a bit overwhelming, but having some perspective helps. “College is a new chapter in my life and with new chapters come new surroundings,” said Shallal. “In order to make a smooth transition to college I will need to accept that it may not be as similar as home. However, I can decorate my dorm in order to make it a little like my childhood room from home.”

Shallal, Najor, and Kassa all greatly look forward to the college experience. “I’m looking most forward to the academic programs available at James Madison College,” said Shallal. “I can’t wait to work toward my goals and to discover a career that best suits me,” said Kassa.

“Playing baseball and studying the subjects that interest me the most are what I’m looking forward to,” said Najor.

Garmo, who is near the end of her university experience, loves the learning aspect of college the most. “I’m going to sound like a dork, but the best thing about college is being able to have intellectual conversations with your peers and professors throughout the day,” Garmo said. “I have had office hour conversations turn into debates over healthcare and immigration laws. I’ve also had lunches with English nerds who can talk about books for hours. Being able to learn something new every day, have your beliefs be challenged, and know you have a place to ask questions is a great feeling.”

Like any experience, and life more generally, college is what you make of it. But having a place to call a home away from home sure does make the process easier.