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Aryn Sanderson

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Dorm life, while exciting, isn’t always easy. Most people have never been packed into a tiny room with two strangers, fueled only by eating campus food and caffeine (lots of caffeine). Besides the bare essentials, people rarely think of the most clutch items to bring. While dorm living is an adjustment, these 10 not-so-obvious things can transform your dorm room into a home away from home:

A sleeping bag: You’re living in San Luis Obispo, the happiest city in America … so guess what? All of your high school friends are going to want to stick a piece of gum on Bubblegum Alley, gobble up a Firestone tri-tip sandwich and, quite simply, rage it up. Twin beds are not meant to be shared. Instead, invest in a sleeping bag and make your overnight visitors as happy as the city they’re staying in.

Hot water maker or coffee maker: Pick your poison — tea or coffee. No matter what, you’re going to need caffeine to fuel your first year of all-nighter study sessions and to get you up for your first post-Thirsty Thursday early Friday morning class.

To-go mug and plastic utensils: Don’t forget a to-go mug to bring your beverages on the run. Pack plastic utensils so you can eat your Easy Mac and ramen … without having to sneakily steal utensils from Vista Grande Cafe.

Noise-canceling headphones: They’re helpful for when you need concentrated study time. They’re useful for when you don’t want to hear your roommate going through the “I-love-you-more” routine with their long-distance lover on Skype. And, most importantly, noise-canceling headphones come in handy when you need to tune out the rest of the world — or, at the very least, the rest of your tower.

Power strips and a long Ethernet cord: Without a TV, you’ll want to watch Hulu in bed. These two necessities are the only way to make that magic possible.

A fan: Dorm rooms are not air-conditioned, and summer, fall and spring here can get toasty. Bring a fan and make sure your box of a dorm room feels nice and airy.

A portable stapler: Bring a stapler to class the day a big paper is due, and you’ll find a lot of new friends. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about turning in a foolishly paper-clipped essay (what a noob).

A full-length mirror: Honestly, there is no way on Earth that a floor full of people can equally share mirror time. When communal mirrors are full of people primping and trying on outfits (um, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, obviously), you’ll need your own. Plus, the provided mirrors only show neck up, and we all know you’ll need to thoroughly analyze your costume choice. Which brings us to …

Costume leftovers: Not having an adequate costume should never be an excuse for missing out on fun. Girls and guys alike: Bring an arsenal of costume basics — from last Halloween’s animal ears to your high school hoedown cowboy boots — and live it up. If you go greek, costumes will come in handy for your very first exchange and, if you don’t rush, you’ll still be invited to your fair share of themed soirées.

Your wits: Be clever. Make a system with your roommates so you know when one of y’all is getting some and the rest of you are, ahem, sexiled. Buddy up to your resident adviser, and make sure you can wiggle your way out of a noise violation. The only way to hack it in the dorms is strategy. Remember: YOFO. You’re only a freshman once … hopefully.

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