Dorm Room Tips

When you live in a small space, and perhaps with one or more people, you want to make the most of it. I want to provide you with some tips and tricks that I’ve used and find to be helpful!

You can never have enough storage. At the beginning of the semester, my roommate and I found that we had too much storage. It’s hard to believe. But now, nearly three months of living in a dorm room, we need more! My tip is to utilize every nook and cranny: 

Purchase a long container for underneath your futon or bed, so it can just slide out.

Buy some cheap storage bins for your closet or maybe for cube storage.

Use your window sill (if possible) as a shelf until you have to turn the heat on. Before we turned our heat on yesterday, we had plants sitting on the window sill, decorations, and would place our phones on the sill when charging (pro tip: DON’T do this when you turn the heat on…).

If your sink and mirror are magnetic, invest in some storage cases (old locker decorations, hello!) to put your tooth brush and tooth paste in.

Put up some command hooks to hang towels, robes, coats, whatever it may be.

Attach a door hanger for the above things, too!

Hanging shoe storage for closet

Using the space underneath the sink and every inch of the dresser and desk drawers

Storing things out of sight e.g. currently rambled behind our futon is a tissue box, paper towels, hanging lights, and a spike ball game. No one can see it so it doesn’t matter what it looks like!

Invest in storage carts for toiletries and a separate one for food.

GO TO IKEA! Just walking around, I ended up buying thing I didn’t think I would need, but use all the time. Plus, their items are cheap! I purchased a doormat, microwaveable cover, a small light for my bed, and a side table that has see-through storage on the bottom. And, bonus, trips to Ikea are always a blast and they have pretty good soft-serve ice cream.


First Trip Home

After not being home for two months and not having a free weekend until Thanksgiving break to do so, I surprised my family this past weekend with a trip back home. I needed it more than I thought.

I decided I would go home five days before I did (10/14). I wanted it to be a surprise for everyone, but of course, at least one person needed to know, and I needed to know if this weekend would work out for my family back home.

I texted my step-dad, John, on Monday. He said that him and my mom weren’t doing anything that weekend, and that my brother had a home game. The perfect weekend!

I confirmed everything with my step-dad and told my roommate I’d be gone for the weekend.

Friday couldn’t come soon enough. I hadn’t been home for two months–the longest I’ve ever gone. I missed showering without shoes on, eating home-cooked food, seeing my dogs, and just walking around the house and doing anything and everything I couldn’t do. I missed all of it.

I packed everything I needed to bring home, I made a ‘groceries’ list, a list of what I wanted to do, and a list of what I needed to bring home (winter stuff, woo).

Friday came and that morning I went to get my car in the Hawk Lot, parked it in front of my dorm, and packed everything in before my last class of the day. When I made my schedule over the summer, I made sure that my last class on Friday ended early–2:20 isn’t as early as I’d like, but I get home before dark so I can’t complain.

I sprinted from AJB to Daum and was off. I texted John that I’d be home around 6:30, and I was expecting meatloaf (my first home-cooked meal request).

Turns out, four hours is a lot longer of a drive than you think, especially when you’re alone. It was a struggle, but I listened to Old Disney and Old Miley Cyrus–a good way to past time.

When I was 20 minutes away and passing through Fulton–the town my brother’s school is in–I decided on a whim that I’d track my brother’s location and surprise him. He was at the soccer field about to start practice. He was on the field with two other guys passing the ball, so I decided it was appropriate if I surprised him then (had he been in the middle of practice, of course I wouldn’t have).

I parked my car, got out, and yelled “Hey Rich!” (his name is Sam but we call each other “Rich”). Heres how the conversation went with one of the guys he was passing with:

Who’s that?

My sister.

Why is she here?

I don’t know?

He ran over and we hugged and what a surprise it was… we briefly talked and then I left. He’d be home after practice at eight.

I continued on my way.

You don’t think you’re homesick until you’re driving down roads you used to everyday. Until you drive past the road you used to take to get to school everyday. I crossed the bridge over the river and felt happiness. It was a weird feeling. I started to feel so happy.

Side story:

My mom surprised me with a much-needed visit on October 7th. I was having a rough week and she was what I needed. She texted me a photo of my dog, Tinkerbell, in front of my dorm. I sprinted out my room to her.

I wanted to surprise her in the same way, so I called John and told him that I was about three minutes from home and to be sure she had her phone with her.

I drove up the big hill to get into my neighborhood and turned left onto my street. Gosh, it felt so good to be back.

I pulled into my driveway and laughed to myself at the sight of the skeleton decoration in our front yard.

“Here,” I texted John.

Then I sent a picture of our house in a group chat with my mom, John, and Sam.

Two minutes passed and I sent another.

Then John came out and told me to just come in HA! So it didn’t go as planned… but… her reaction was golden:

insert video here i tried to do it but it wouldn’t work … suggestions?

We ate meatloaf at the table, together as a family again.

I snuggled with my dogs every chance I got.

I surprised my neighbors.

We watched a movie together two nights in a row like we used to.

I deep-cleaned the house.

We made pumpkin bread.

My brother and I carved pumpkins and set out decorations like we have every year.

We went on a walk at night around the neighborhood.

I ate breakfast with my grandparents and we talked each other’s ears off.

I visited with my Aunt and Uncle.

I showered without shoes on.

I ate home-cooked food.

I did all the things I wanted to do while at home.

And I did anything and everything I could.

Needless to say, my short trip back home was much needed. Two months went by two slow, and those three days went by too quick.

Now, the countdown to Thanksgiving break begins.

Hawkeye Football

The long awaited days of Hawkeye football are over. Obviously I am a bit overdue on this article, but what I wanted to provide an insightful blog as to what game days are like for a freshman who has never been to one, and maybe some tips for those who fall under that category! With that being said, it’s true, I have never been to a Hawkeye football game in my life, and the home opener on August 31st was my first one ever!! Consequently, I have only ever been to one other college football game. Yes, I’m new to this. After two home games–a night and afternoon one– I can say with 90% of certainty that I’ve got the jist of it. I’m sure I’ll learn something new each game, regardless of how many of been to, but here’s what I have to offer…

Before I begin, I’d like to point out the obvious–Saturday’s at Kinnick are unlike any other University’s across the nation. When I first participated in “The Wave,” I got chills on my arms and tears in my eyes. It is safe to say that it is THE greatest college football tradition in the history of college football, hands down, end of discussion. Everyone always mentions it when I tell them I’m a student here at Iowa. Everyone knows. That’s the impact it has. Imagine the impact it has on the hospital patients. Well look at that *figuratively*, chills just took over my body.

You’ve also got the ‘Burrito Lift’ because Pancheros rules Iowa City. Chipotle? Never heard of her.

There’s also spelling I-O-W-A with your fingers and then with your arms with the four corners of the stadium. That’s a good one. The cheerleaders stop waving the flags after about five, but the students really control the cheer, so there’s really no way of knowing when it’ll end. And of course, you always have those stragglers who do it when everyone else is finished.

How about “making some noise” at the third down?

Singing “Back in Black.” A classic.

I’m sure there are countless others that I’m unaware of partly because I get easily distracted during games when I’m standing with friends. And, you know, I’m used to this.

In my “I’d rather be cold than hot” opinion, I will take a night game over an afternoon game any day–at least at the beginning of the season. I’m fully prepared to layer up for the games in November. I also just prefer it because you can spend the whole day getting ready and tailgating–doing whatever– without feeling rushed. For the afternoon game vs Rutgers, nobody was expecting it to be as hot and as sunny as it was. I, along with everyone else, ended up getting burned. The hawkeye sticker I had on my check left behind a nice burn mark. I told everyone it symbolized my dedication.

I may be the only person who notices this, but most students dress fairly casual for games, and I love this. If we were any further south, I’d have to get ready an extra two hours earlier. A cotton t-shirt is totally acceptable. It allows you to get creative with the shirts you purchase, the pants you wear, and the accessories you top it off with. In a way, you can make it as dressy as you’d like, to each their one! It’s comfort… but make it stylish.

My friends and I arrived to the very first game an hour and a half before the start. Was this too early? Maybe. We had no idea what time to get there though and we wanted to be sure to get a good spot. We’ve decided that an hour is plenty of time.

The following are personal tips I will continue to consider before every game from now on:

  • Even if the weather shows an overcast day, apply SPF. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Have your outfit planned the day before. If it’s an afternoon game, you don’t have to think about it much. It makes the process smoother.
  • Be sure to eat and hydrate before every game. Especially if it’s an afternoon one. Especially if the sun is going to be out. You’d think you would, but then you end up waking up later than planned and you’re rushing to get ready and you forget to eat or drink anything.
  • Going along with the first one, prep according to the weather.
  • Get a fun group together to go to the games with!
  • If you want a front row spot, get there an hour and a half before the game starts. Otherwise, I think an hour is just as fine.
  • Participate in the chants even if you have no idea what to do. Make it look like you do. It’s a ton of fun.
  • ^^ Show your school spirit. Go all out! Everyone loves a crazy hawkeye fan 🙂

A Pinterest Dorm Room

If you’re like me, you’ve had your dorm room mapped out in your head since the beginning of your senior year in high school. And you’re exactly like me if you had an entire Pinterest board dedicated to it… I enjoy doing these things! You can totally check out my “Iowa” board on Pinterest for reference:

It’s also fun to just think about and envision; but when you start actually purchasing things for your room, it gets pretty hectic. It’s the little things that you need that don’t cross your mind unless you’re told about them. Of course, I read every article on Pinterest that had to do with all things college dorm rooms, such as things you need and don’t need for your room. I also talked to some friends who are in college about things they were glad they brought and things they didn’t end up using. If they can provide specifics and things out of the ordinary, that makes it even better. Both of these resources are extremely helpful. The University of Iowa also has numerous, helpful lists on ‘What to Bring’ on their website for Housing & Dining.

If you have a roommate, it’s best to coordinate who is bringing what and what you want your room to look like. Unless you have a completely different style or like the same things, it’s important to come to an agreement either way. You’re going to be living with this person for nearly a year. You want to get along. My roommate, Maggie, was fine with whatever. 

I took the Sherwin Williams color ID quiz: because when you’re creating your living space, you might be totally into a color scheme, but it may turn out that the colors are too busy for your liking. My color ID/scheme was perfect for me. I sent it to Maggie, and of course, she liked it, too. Here’s a hint: when searching for a roommate, find yourself a Maggie.

Sure, it can be stressful, but it’s also a lot of fun. If you’re like the typical guy, however, you’re good with whatever blue plaid bedspread your mom bought you. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Ultimately, you’re going to be living in your dorm room for an entire school year–make it a space you want to spend all night binge watching Criminal Minds and eating popcorn. 



That’s it. That’s the title. 

Let me elaborate. 

I’ve been at Iowa since Sunday, August 18th. It’s been overwhelming. It’s been exciting. It’s been different, uncomfortable, and new. 

Let me elaborate. 

My entire life I’ve been surrounded with familiarity. Nothing has ever been “new” to me. I attended a small Catholic school in the same town and went to the same school for 11 years– three year old preschool to eighth grade. The only thing that’s been “different” to me was transitioning to a small Catholic high school.  Sure, that was crazy, and being a freshman just kind of sucks because nobody likes you. It’s a common theme everywhere.

Familiarity has been very nice. In no way am I complaining. We all love knowing everything about everything. It gives us a secure feeling, in a way that gives us really nothing to worry about. We don’t realize we’ve been surrounded with that until we aren’t.  That familiarity, albeit safe, is also what inspired me to go somewhere new. And, yes, that feeling of not knowing anything, which has given me an overwhelming amount of different emotions, is what I have felt since moving four hours away from Missouri to Iowa for college.  

So for most people, that’s what college is. We go from knowing everything and everyone, to a place we aren’t familiar with. We ask ourselves if it’s socially acceptable to wear a Velcro towel after we shower in a non gender specific hall… We question if an underground tunnel connecting dorms was a scene from a horror film… We find ourselves stuck on the Cambus for 30 minutes–no explanation needed. Suddenly we’re “broke college students.” The student loans, the academically challenging classes, the culture shock (how does one Cambus?), the whole shabang. 

But I’m glad that everything is new and difficult, because “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I don’t know who said that, but they were right. Iowa is my new life. I chose it because of that reason. I didn’t want to go to Mizzou with the people I’ve known my entire life at a place only 30 minutes away from home. It is a challenge that builds character and gives you new experiences. It forces you to make new friends and become accustomed to your surroundings. I have so much to learn. 

A change has been long overdue in my life. 

I’m so ready for it.