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When I was packing for college, I shamelessly took everything I thought I needed… times two.

Four toothbrushes? Check. Four phone charging cords? Check. All my high school binders, including my calculus and macroeconomics notes? …Check.

Obviously, I didn’t need all of that. But there were some things I hauled over from California that I was really, really glad I brought. These were things I never thought I’d appreciate, but now that I have them, I’m thrilled they’re floating around in my dorm!

ITEM 1: MINIATURE-SIZED NOTEBOOKS

The desks at Hopkins are generally pretty small, depending on the classroom you’ll be in. I’m assuming that most of your classes during your first two semesters will be lecture-style, which means you’ll have a pretty small writing space. That’s why I decided to buy small craft journals to use as notebooks. They’re light and small, so I can carry around at least four of them in my tote bag without feeling like my scoliosis is worsening. They’re a good investment, since I seldom end up using more than 1/2 of big, 3.5″ x 11″ notebooks anyway, and these are cheaper and cuter. I got mine from Daiso Japan in store (shipping is pretty expensive from the website), but Muji and other stationary stores do have them in stock.

ITEM 2: HOT GLUE GUN

Before you ask: Yes, a hot glue gun is very helpful!

No, you don’t need it for classes, but it definitely helps you repair things that white or stick glue can’t. The advantage of having a hot glue gun versus gorilla or super glue is that it’s more versatile. If you’re planning on having an arts-and-crafts night with your friends, a glue gun is your best friend. If your picture frame needs to be fixed, glue away. If your shoe (like mine) ripped in the middle of the semester, you can glue the sole for a temporary solution. They’re well worth the inexpensive investment — trust me!

ITEM 3: STICKERS!

They’re a good way to spice anything up, from notebooks, to laptop covers, and to water bottles. They’re also a great way of self-expression and repping your clubs, activities, etc.! I like to get my stickers from Redbubble, since it’s a great way to support individual artists and they have really neat designs, but Amazon also sells laptop and skater stickers in bulk for a cheap price.

ITEM 4: STAMPS AND ENVELOPES

There’s nothing more de-stressing and sweet than writing a letter to a loved one or connect with your friends in an old-fashioned way! I wrote letters to my friends and family members for their birthdays and just to check in, because getting an actual physical letter on paper is a better feeling than getting a text message or a DM on Instagram. It’s also a great excuse to write large amounts of text catching your friends and family up on your life in college, because you can go much deeper on paper than over digital media.

ITEM 5: FLASHLIGHT

It’s something you won’t really need, but in case there’s a power outage in your dorm in the dark, a strong flashlight is your best friend. Yes, your phone probably has a flashlight, but it’s good to have something battery-powered in case your phone dies. Also, a phone flashlight isn’t very bright, and if you’re deep darkness, a flashlight is a better option than your phone.

ITEM 6: CAMERA

If you have a camera, whether it’s a disposable, film, polaroid, or digital, consider bringing it! You might not have time during finals season to take photos, but it’s a great way to capture memories when the weather gets warmer. Whether you and your friends are hanging out on the Beach, going to the BMA, or headed down to DC, there will be plenty of fun photo opportunities for you to snap a few pics for social media. Photoshoots around the artsy neighborhood of Hampden are also a great way to explore nearby and pass time during breaks, weekends, or days off!

ITEM 7: A JAR

My biggest issue about organizing my desk and drawers was that I often lost little things, such as jewelry, paper clips, cards, and more. Bringing a small jar or tupperware specifically for the purpose of storing small objects was something that never crossed my mind. My sorority big gave me this cute glass jar, and I’ve used it extensively as a container for my rings and necklaces and small stickers. It’s so helpful to have around, and I strongly recommend using something like this!

These are just some unconventional things I found to be super helpful in making college life a little easier. The transition is a bit rough for everyone at first, but hopefully these little things will make it smoother like it did for me!

Until next time!

— Steph