Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 17, 2024

Settling in: how to make your dorm room feel like a home

By EMI GONZALEZ | January 27, 2023

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COURTESY OF EMI GONZALEZ Gonzalez shares tips and tricks for making your dorm room an enjoyable space to hang out in.

Winter break ended this past weekend, forcing us to say goodbye to our families and hometowns. It was time to go back to school. Yet for me, I found myself saying to my parents that I’m excited to go home. 

Home. I called Hopkins my home. Though classmates cringe at themselves when they accidentally refer to our University as “home,“ I openly embrace this vocabulary. My friends, the East Coast weather and club activities all bring me comfort at Hopkins, but my dorm tops all. It is a perfect, miniature home.

It might seem impossible to turn the small, bleak, plain AMR II dorms into a homey space, but it really isn’t. If you do everything I did, you’ll find yourself making your parents shudder as you start to subconsciously replace the word “school” with “home.” 

Bring decor from your bedroom to your dorm room.

Initially, I was hesitant to remove my movie posters and paintings from my bedroom walls. Not only was I trying to avoid ripping the paint off the walls (pro tip: don’t use 3D puffy glue dots on interior paint... sorry Mom and Dad), but I also didn’t want to see bare spots in my childhood bedroom. It felt as if I was dismantling a huge part of my life. 

However, I knew I couldn’t leave behind my treasured The Royal Tenenbaums poster, so I ripped off the band-aid, rolled up my posters and gave them a new wall to compliment. While my childhood room looks patchy, this has helped my dorm room feel less foreign. I don’t feel like Coraline, crawling through a tunnel into my “other” home and seeing a room that should look like my bedroom. Instead, I feel at home. So don’t buy 10 new posters to hang up. Take your favorites from home and let them serve as reflections of your childhood. It’ll warm up your room when the heat stops working. 

Incorporate hometown reminders. 

I’m from Philly (a.k.a. a small town 20 minutes away from Philadelphia that nobody knows), and as much as I wanted to leave my hometown to experience a new city, I’m still a ‘Philly’ girl through and through. My Philly-inspired art prints remind me that I’m never far from my roots, literally and figuratively. I can always go back home, but I can also take home with me anywhere I go. This includes photos of family and friends, too. Having a framed photo of my friends and me from high school sitting on my desk reminds me that I forever have my hometown girls with me. It truly has helped my dorm become a home away from home. 


COURTESY OF EMI GONZALEZ


Dorm shop with your family. 

My roommate told me the dorm feels like home to her because all of her bedding and new wall art were picked out by her and her mom. It’s like wearing your mom’s old hoodie when you miss her, but better yet, I can wrap myself in the bedding that my mom chose. Little things like that can help you adjust to your new room and view it as home since you are still surrounded by family.

Now I know not everyone is a decorative person. Some people like beige walls surrounding them and dislike the texture of throw pillows. Taking the time to put up a bunch of photos and fairy lights isn’t enjoyable for everyone. So is there another way to make your dorm feel like home without having to buy new decor, destroy your childhood bedroom and continuously fix badly-hung art? 


COURTESY OF EMI GONZALEZ


Yes, and the answer is simple. 

Make your dorm room yours. Don’t make your dorm room into another Brody Learning Commons or a Calculus II section. Invite your friends over and have loud conversations that your neighbor will quote to you when you pass them by. Binge-watch Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team with your roommate and pretend your opinions matter. Lay in bed. Scroll through TikTok. Listen to music. Get ready for formals. Do anything and everything in the dorm so that when you get back from Introduction to Fiction & Poetry, you can swing open the door and say to your roommate, “Honey, I’m home!” 

If you follow these simple steps, you can make any space, no matter how small and far away from your family, home. 


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