Staff Picks: Freshman Dorm Essentials

Hey, Class of 2024! Welcome to the Penn State family.

In just about eight weeks, newly deemed Penn State freshmen will pour into campus from all corners of the world. Yes, it’ll be nerve-wracking, especially under a host of new guidelines and restrictions. But it’ll also be incredibly fun, challenging, and transformative.

One of the most exciting parts about becoming a college student is the shopping that comes before moving away from home. You’ve probably already picked up shower shoes, desk lamps, and air fresheners, but some of the most important items are the ones you’d never think of.

To make sure you’re ready for the college experience, we asked some of our veteran staffers to discuss their personal dorm essentials.

Ryen Gailey: Microwavable Food

I wouldn’t have survived freshman year without an ample supply of microwaveable food. I think I ate enough Kraft Mac & Cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to last me a lifetime.

As someone who rarely ate in the dining halls, I preferred, when possible, to make my own meal in the microwave. It was easier, transportable, and didn’t require me to plan my nights around heading to the commons.

Most of the dining halls have a surplus of microwaveable foods, but I also loved it when my friends and I would order out and I could reheat food for meals in the following days. Each room is provided with a fridge and microwave, so you’d better get your money’s worth. After all, there’s nothing more fun than making microwaveable rice krispies with your friends at 2 a.m.

Matt DiSanto: A Trusty Doorstop

Boring, small, and practical: Doorstops have it all.

If you’re living in an unrenovated dorm, ushering in constant airflow is essential during the two weeks when it’s actually warm out at Penn State. Hopefully, they’ll bring in some cool hallway air and keep your room from getting too stuffy in the late August heat.

Doorstops also have an especially important social function. If you’re like me, you’ll head up to State College without knowing a soul and start craving social interaction within the first 24 hours after your folks say sayonara. Keeping your door open is an easy way to make a few friends and say hi to the folks who walk by. I can safely say I’ve met some great pals through awkward open-door chit chat. After all, you never know who might walk in.

Michael Tauriello: Tabletop Ironing Board

What can I say? I like looking sharp when I roll up to a career fair.

Before college, I didn’t really think I’d need one. I usually cleared off my desk every other Sunday and did my ironing there. No big deal. No, it really is a big deal! My parents shipped me off with an ironing board, and now I can’t imagine ironing without one.

Ironing is something I can look forward to when I need to get it done. It’s like your dad mowing the lawn. No one understands why it’s therapeutic, it just…is. Dressing for success is key, and a tabletop ironing board is the keychain to go with it.

Alysa Rubin: Umbrella

My freshman year definitely wouldn’t have been the same if I didn’t have a good umbrella. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been caught in the rain and would’ve gotten drenched without one. Of course, taking the bus will help you avoid getting wet. But for those long walks across campus on rainy days, an umbrella will become your best friend.

Lindsay Tagliere: Alarm Clock

When I first got to college and didn’t have my parents reminding me how late it was, I stayed up until 4 a.m. every night and was miserable when classes started. I was devoting most of my day to sleeping instead of doing homework, studying, eating, or socializing.

Setting an alarm for when I needed to wake up AND when I needed to start getting ready for bed saved my sleep schedule, my health, and my grades. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is essential to keeping yourself both physically and mentally healthy, and I wouldn’t have been able to hold myself accountable without my alarm clock.

Owen Abbey: Air Purifier

The Penn State Plague is a real thing, ladies and gents, so being prepared for it is essential…especially this fall. Sure, stocking up on medicine will help after you get sick, but why not have something that prevents you from getting sick in the first place? That is where the air purifier comes in, and it was the single greatest investment that I had in my freshman dorm.

You turn it on, and it cleans the air within that tight little space. Your roommate won’t complain because it helps them not get sick either. Win-win, if you ask me. It will also be important with all of the health and safety protocols that are in place as a response to the coronavirus. I firmly believe that the air purifier was the reason I did not get sick during my freshman year when everyone else around me did, and with the coronavirus looming, not having one is a risk I would not take.

Gabe Angieri: GPS App

Having a GPS on my phone was crucial as a freshman. After all, I had absolutely no idea where any of my classes were. The navigator on my phone helped me get around campus, especially when I had to make the 20+ minute walk from Atherton to Keller.

I needed directions to navigate campus for the majority of my first semester, and even on occasion during my second semester. Freshmen, do yourselves a favor and have your GPS ready to go on day one.

Dana Nunemacher: Filtered Water Pitcher

I couldn’t imagine my life without my filtered water pitcher. I used that thing every day and will continue to use it for the rest of my college career. Not only was my water bottle filled each day with clean, fresh water, but I was able to use it every day to fill up my tea mug.

I was also happy to have my water pitcher because my building didn’t have a filtered water fountain…or any water fountains, for that matter. Be sure to add a filtered water pitcher (and extra filters!) to your shopping list.

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