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Hoot Recommends: dorm essentials

Hello and welcome back to “Hoot Recommends,” where members of The Brandeis Hoot’s editorial board share our thoughts on different topics. This week, members of our board will be sharing the things they have in their dorms or homes that they just can’t live without.


One of the best investments I made for my dorm was getting a cushion for the very uncomfortable chairs that Brandeis provides. Just a cheap lawn cushion tied onto the back of my chair makes sitting at my desk a much more bearable experience. I also think a small personal fan is essential for dorms that don’t have AC, and a rug is essential for non-carpeted dorms. Being able to create air circulation when it’s hot and avoid cold linoleum when it’s freezing are very important when it comes to surviving New England weather.


I no longer live on campus, but while I did, the thing in my dorm that was necessary every single day was my surge protector/power strip. With the limited and/or difficult to access outlets in every dorm room I had, it was crucial to have an accessible, dependable set of outlets I could keep in a central location in my dorm. I will never understand why we must struggle with furniture layout or with badly placed outlets in every single Brandeis dorm room, but I digress. I’d use my surge protector daily to charge my essential devices, have my Keurig plugged in, my fan running in the warmer months and whatever else I may have needed to plug in in a pinch. It was also super helpful when inviting friends over to study and making sure they had a place to charge their laptops and phones as well.


Let’s face it. Some of the dorm rooms at Brandeis can seem pretty bleak. I, personally, don’t want to return to my room after a long day of classes just to be greeted by blank cinderblock walls. That’s where posters come in; they’re an easy way to not only add some color to your dorm, but also to show off your interests and hobbies. Last year, my walls were decorated with posters featuring everything from “Dragon Ball Z” to The Killers. However, after I brought them home for the summer, tragedy struck and they all, somehow, went missing. After searching all throughout my house, I came up empty handed. Nevertheless, I have continued to amass my collection of posters, currently including ones for “Star Wars,” “Fullmetal Alchemist” and the “Barbie” movie.


There are quite a few items in my dorm room that I could not live without; my fan, beanbag chair, the colorful decorations that remind me of home. However, the one item that stands out the most to me is my foam roller. That thing has been through it all with me yet it never fails to make me feel better. Even my dog sees it as the coolest (though forbidden) toy in existence. As a runner, having a roller is a staple to keeping myself feeling fresh. Despite this, you certainly do not need to be a runner to own a foam roller. Hiking across campus and perhaps up the Rabb steps on the daily makes every Brandeis student a perfect foam roller candidate in my eyes. I usually foam roll every night before bed and stretch to decompress. It’s a healthy habit to form as it can relieve most types of leg and back discomfort as long as you do it regularly. Especially considering how much the average student sits everyday, it is important to relieve muscle tension and also increase blood flow. All in all, foam rollers are pure gold and everyone should treat themselves to one if they’re interested. Roll ’Deis!


A blanket. Especially for the “shoulder” months when the heating has not yet turned on and it is incredibly cold out. In general, having an additional layer on top of your sheets is helpful in general because it makes the room feel more personalized. I can also be (very) fancy and fold the blanket and put it at the end of my bed to make my bed look like the ones on display in an IKEA. 


A dorm necessity I have used for all four years of college is a set of dumbbells. I have four pairs that I bought in the fall of 2020, a bit of a costly investment but so worth the money. This may not be a widely held opinion but, as someone who works out frequently but hates cardio and is not on a sports team, I have found no use in Gosman. The general weight rooms are small, hot, crowded and have pretty limited hours. Not to mention, depending on where you live on campus, a bit of a hike (which would have discouraged me from ever working out). Having just two pairs of dumbbells in your room, plus maybe a yoga mat, provides endless workout opportunities that you can fit around your schedule. If you have an hour and a half in the morning before class, why not do a 30-minute workout? Or maybe you just need to exert some energy after sitting around all day. The dumbbells are always there to add just a bit more challenge and options to a dorm room workout. If you’re willing to spend the money, I highly recommend it.


I love to have my room smell good, so I would never live without an essential oil diffuser. If you’re looking to get a diffuser, I highly recommend the Muji one. It might be a little bit pricier than the other brands, but it totally worthes the price for how durable it is and the smoothness of the mist. Muji also has a ton of different scents of essential oils that perfectly pairs with the diffuser. If you ever think of getting one of those, go to the Muji store on Newbury Street to try them out (This is an ad sponsored by Muji, believe it or not)!


Command Hooks are the single most useful and versatile item I have owned. I am impressed by the strength of Command Hooks for my dorm room needs, as well as their ability to be efficiently and cleanly removed. As someone who is not terribly crafty, I seek out items like Command Hooks that allow me to create points of organization and decoration in my room without using any specialized tools. In my current room, I have five Command Hooks; one for my tote bags and purses, one for my jacket and umbrella, one for other warm layers, one for my bathrobe and lastly, one for my towel. Not to be contained to hooks, I have diversified my CommandTM products to include their velcro-like adhesive strips. These strips hold up my whiteboard, which I have used for many purposes. Believe it or not, this is not an advertisement for CommandTM, though I would not be opposed to a sponsorship (reach out please, CommandTM).


Several dozen copies of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”


Often in college, there will be times where you just don’t feel like leaving your room. Maybe you will be in the zone with work and you don’t want to interrupt that. Or maybe you had a busy day one day so you want to relax the next day. That means you should take advantage of the resources in your room. The resource I strongly suggest to take advantage of is the mini fridge. This is your cold rectangle where your favorite foods can go. If you pack it right, you can store a lot of food in there that will prepare you for any upcoming days when you want to be cooped up in your room. You can store your green box from the dining hall to keep some extra meals, as well as great items from the C-Store, like drinks, fruit, desserts and more. The possibilities are endless and it will truly make your dorm room feel like home. I live off-campus this year, and I originally was not going to have a mini fridge since we had a big one in the kitchen. However, the house had an extra mini fridge that I was able to bring up to my room, and it makes me wonder how I could have lived without one. It is so nice to be able to just walk a few steps and have a great amount of food that I can eat whenever I want. So if you have a mini fridge, make the most of it! If you’re at a point where you are not sure if you want one, get one! Your stomach, feet and comfort will thank you.


Now that I do not live on campus, my essentials have changed drastically. It used to be a fan when I lived on the sixth floor of East last year (so death), and maybe some ice cream in my mini freezer to drown my sorrows. Anyway, now I love a good candle, I have a couch in my room, and I have a bed that’s not the size of a stick. So my recommendation: don’t live on campus (peace and love DCL).

This might seem stupidly simple, but my floor lamp that I bought from Target (as well as the two lightbulbs I had to buy alongside it). It is such a change using warm lighting in my room. The overhead lighting in my dorm last year made me feel like I was working in an office 24/7. What’s worse, it was impossible to do my makeup—I would go into the bathroom to check myself afterward and I would look like a circus clown. Additionally, I have a lot of fairy lights hung up to set the mood. My room is my happy place so something as basic as lighting has to be perfect to improve that quality of life.

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