Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dorm Living 101

I lived in an apartment for two years when I was in college. This was a private apartment situated on-campus. I lived with a mom - who was a guidance counselor at our university - and her awesome daughter who was only two years older than I was, and two other girls. One was from Parañaque and the other one was from Nueva Ecija. We started living in our 'dorm' when we were college freshmen and we all became good friends and treated each other like sisters. We remain good friends until today.

My family was very supportive of my decision to go away to college. My mom expressed concern over how far I was going to be from them but other than that, she was okay to let me go. I was 16 and I was going to live on my own for the first time. Colossal shopping trips took place once we got to Manila. I was excited and terrified but I knew it would be one big adventure.

Here's a helpful list to get you started on dorm living:

1. Get good and comfortable bedding

My mom bought me three sets of bedding - fitted sheets, pillow cases, comforters and blankets. The ones below from Roxy are tres cute!

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photo from

2. Get storage bins and plastic containers

Storage and lack of space are often the main issues when living in a dorm. My college dorm provided us with a sizable closet but still, I needed extra bins and containers for my stuff like my shoes and bags. You can also  buy a shoe rack or a bag organizer. I also had plastic containers to store my food supplies in - my cereal, biscuits, cup noodles, some canned food.

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photo from

3. Buy the essential appliances and furniture

My mom bought me a mini-iron and an electric fan. Our room didn't have airconditioning but it wasn't hot. In fact, it was very cool, especially during nighttime. I love how UP Diliman's campus is so full of trees. We watched TV in the living room and we could use the fridge, the microwave and the stove when we wanted to. We were treated like family. 

We had beds and mattresses. I didn't have a study table, so my mom bought me one which came with a small chair.

Check your dorm before you move in, talk to the administrators and dorm managers and see what you can bring and what you can't. Just buy what you need.

4. Purchase a good lamp

A good lamp helps you study without disturbing your roommate and serves as a night light. Choose something that doesn't overheat so don't just buy any lamp. Choose something that doesn't strain your eyes and will last long. The really good ones even have an adjustable low light feature which can double as your night light so your room isn't pitch black when the lights are out. 

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5. Get laundry supplies

I had my laundry done at Php 18.00 a kilo but when funds are low (because my allowance went to clothes shopping), I had to resort to doing my own. Even if I had my laundry picked up, I washed my own intimates - undergarments, some camis and stuff. My mom bought me a medium sized basin, a hamper (a laundry bag will do), laundry detergent, some hangers, clothespins and a laundry brush - in case I decided to wash my own denims. Fat chance, I just wore them for weeks straight without washing them. Hey, I was 16 and didn't know better. 

6. Buy a good laptop (or a tablet)

My uncle gifted me with one when I was a college sophomore. It was one of the earlier Compaq Presarios. It was much easier to have your own computer than to go to the library or to an internet cafe. It weighed a ton. C'mon, it was the year 2001. A lot of universities have computer services for their students. Trust me, you won't really need a printer. You can save your work in a USB flash disk and that's all you need to bring to the library to have your work printed out. I was lucky I had friends and a boyfriend who printed my papers for me. I just sent them the files through email.

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7. Assemble a first aid kit

I was a sickly child - plagued with asthma until I was nine or ten. My mom provided me with a small first aid kit with cough, cold and flu medicine. It had eye drops, a thermometer, some bandages, iodine solution, Band-Aids and some medication for pain, for upset stomach and other common illnesses. Still, I cannot count how many times I called home crying because I was sick and just wanted my mom. Haha! My mom then had to call her sister and cousins in Manila so they could rescue me. What a baby.

8. You will need towels and toiletries


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photo from

9. Shop for school supplies

My mom made sure I had a good scientific calculator, a planner, and a binder. I also had desk organizers and mini book shelves.

10. Decorate your space to personalize it and to keep homesickness at bay

I had photos of family and friends all over my room when I was in college. I also kept a journal.

There you have it. Dorm living doesn't have to be a nightmare. In fact, it's a great way to test the waters of 'real life' and see if you can survive it. It's not easy but it's loads of fun and will teach a teenager so many life skills. Yes, eating vienna sausages straight from the can IS a life skill.

When you're prepared, you'll - forgive the pun - pass living on your own with flying colors!

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