POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2010
Incoming University of Hawaii freshman Jackie Donovan plans to personalize her space at Hale Ilima when she moves into the Manoa dorm next week. The Mid-Pacific Institute grad drew up a list of things she'll need but hasn't made any final decisions on dorm decor.
"I went shopping, and there are so many options, so many colors. I haven't picked anything specific yet," said Donovan, daughter of UH athletic director Jim Donovan, who also lived in Hale Ilima when he first came to the islands.
"I know that I'll end up with bright colors because that makes me happy and brings out my personality. I'll definitely be putting up pictures of me and my friends. That would make me feel more comfortable because they always support me."
Many students get their first real experience living away from home when they head off to college. Adding a few personal touches to a dormitory room can create a familiar setting among strange surroundings and foster a "home away from home" atmosphere.
STORES EASE STUDENTS' SHOPPING» The Target store in Salt Lake is hosting an after-hours shopping event for UH freshmen from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Aug. 17 as part of Warrior Welcome Week. Transportation will be provided from residential halls, according to Nick Sweeton, associate director of Student Housing Services. Shopping trips to Walmart also are planned.
» Bed Bath & Beyond, newly opened in Pearlridge, offers a Pack N Hold program similar to a bridal registry. A hand-held scanner lets students choose the items they would like to purchase; checklists are available on-site. Students also can pick out items and have them held at the store until they are ready to move into their dorm. Call 486-3791 for more information.
Tanaka already got a taste of dorm life after participating in a seven-week summer science and engineering program for native Hawaiians. The electrical engineering student wasn't as homesick as he expected during the summer program, so he doesn't feel the need to decorate with sentimental knickknacks, except for maybe some New York Yankees memorabilia.
"I'll definitely need a calendar. The days just flew by, and it was hard to keep track of things," he said.
The four round Hale Aloha Towers -- Lehua, Ilima, Mokihana and Lokelani -- are opening to students next week after a two-year, $24.5 million renovation. The buildings house 1,080 students in the 560 rooms.
Windows were replaced, public restrooms renovated and new furnishings purchased for public areas. A room-card access system similar to what hotels use was installed to improve security.
One thing UH dorm dwellers don't need to worry about is getting wired. All rooms are wired for Internet use and cable television, and many of the residential halls have Wi-Fi access, according to Michael Kaptik, director of student housing services. For regular land-line phone service, students pay a one-time charge of $19. "We have found that most students do not use their room phone because they are coming to campus with cell phones," he said.
As with any decorating project, it's best to know the room dimensions before making any purchases. This ensures closet organizers and under-bed storage containers will fit and there's space for personal accents and wall decor.
Since most dorms have rules about painting the walls or making other improvements, bedding and accessories such as chairs, throw rugs, wall art, floor cushions and accent pillows provide the best opportunity for students to add color and personality to their dorm rooms. But remember, you'll likely be sharing your small space with another student, so you might want to coordinate purchases with your roommate.
For a fun touch, use strings of pixie lights or paper lanterns but no candles allowed. For studying, desk and reading lamps are less harsh than the fluorescent lighting that might already be available in rooms.
A mattress pad or topper can provide extra comfort to dorm beds, and students must bring their own sheets, pillowcases, pillows, blankets and comforters or bedspreads.
Storage is always an issue in tight spaces, and dorm rooms are no different. Storage bins that fit under beds, stackable drawers, closet organizers and over-the-door hooks and pouches are options. Collapsible laundry hampers and drying racks and a tabletop ironing board can help save additional space.
And what dorm room is without posters, wall art or framed pictures of family and friends? Remember to use the adhesives listed in the housing guidelines to avoid being charged for damage later.
Before moving in, make sure to do a thorough inspection and detail any existing damage on the "room condition form" students are required to fill out. The form is used to check for damage when students leave the dorm.
"If there is damage beyond normal wear and tear, the student would be assessed for the damages," Kaptik said. "Most students do a good job of not damaging their rooms."