Everyone’s first night sleeping in a college dorm is a very different experience. For some freshmen, moving out of their childhood bedroom and into a new space feels like the first night of total independence and a fresh start. A lot of freshmen spend their first night up late promising themselves they’ll keep everything spotless and organized like those fake dorms in Ikea catalogs they spent hours swooning over just to realize that it really looks nothing like that in real life even if you buy every single item pictured including the mini cactus and perfectly-color-coordinated books for the bookshelves. Some rest their heads that first night and sleep more peacefully than ever knowing that they won’t be woken up (three hours earlier than anticipated) to the sound of a parent’s voice asking how on earth they live in such a messy room and demanding that it’s clean by noon. Others immediately feel the pressure of having a new space to take care of, a new responsibility to actually vacuum and actually sweep the floor and actually dust the corners and actually empty the garbage can before everything starts growing mold because if they don’t do it no one will and that’s…gross.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum—excited to take full control and have the best, prettiest room ever, or thrilled to finally be free to throw everything everywhere and not have to do anything about it—getting through your first night is a very important process. It’s like making your bed in the morning; if you do, you set up the rest of your day to be more organized, more productive, more positive. If you take the time you need to find the right sheets, fold your blankets, arrange your pillows, decorate the walls, and make your new room feel comfortable for you, it’ll make everything feel a lot easier in the future.
Having moved in and out of college dorms three times already in my two years of college, I’ve learned a few key tips and tricks that can set the right mood during the first-night process. Honestly, the first tip is to make sure your parents have driven away before you set up everything. I firmly believe that the way your first college dorm room looks should be something you’re in charge of, something you handle completely on your own. This might be the first time you’re living in a space that isn’t somehow owned by your family members, so that “this is my house and in my house I decide how things look” excuse is not applicable anymore. The second tip is to make sure you’re at ease and in a comfortable state before you start putting everything together. Don’t start folding your clothes and hanging your pictures on the walls while you’re still sweaty and unable to breathe properly from the 406 trips you took up and down the stairs trying to carry everything you brought to school with you. Maybe take a short nap or a soothing shower first, then start when you feel ready. This is your new room, don’t be messy. We both know you’re better than that.
The third and final tip is (you guessed it) to fall asleep to songs that fit the occasion. In case you don’t know where to start, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite songs to listen to when any busy or slightly overwhelming day is finally over. Each of these songs were carefully picked from a much longer, less coherent list, and played a significant role in calming me down when the intensity of moving away from home and suddenly finding myself surrounded by completely unfamiliar people and places started to get to me a little bit. These are the songs that brought me back to a head-space that I did recognize and feel safe in.