Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

From Home to Dorm

Paly seniors are just beginning to embark on the journey of dorm living and luckily, they have alumni to guide them as they go
From Home to Dorm

As the weather gets warmer and the school days move by faster, Paly seniors are gearing up for their transition to college. To pick up and move one’s entire life may seem overwhelming. Not only are many people moving out for the first time, but challenges with roommates and small dorms can make the transition even harder.

One of these challenges can be making a college dorm feel like home. Unlike the usual hometown bedrooms, they come plain and undecorated. Many students attempt to make their dorms more homey and personalized using decor and distinctive mementos.

Clarissa Lee, a Paly senior attending Wellesley College in the fall, touches on some personal items she’s taking to remind her of home.

“I’m gonna bring some of my favorite stuffed animals and pictures of my dogs to decorate,” Lee said. 

Aside from the physical space, one of the biggest transitions and differences between high school and college living for most is adapting to constantly living with another person. Finding and becoming a good roommate is important to a smooth college transition.

While many people find their roommates through mutual friends or social media, Paly senior and rising CU Boulder freshman Jeremy Dukes is choosing to go the random route.

“I’m just going to roll the dice,” Dukes said. “I think that can lead you to meeting a lot of cool people and I just want to be open to anything.”

When it comes to finding a roommate, the first step is understanding your lifestyle. Being realistic about your living habits and how you will be as a roommate to someone else is just as important as thinking about what you are looking for out of a roommate. Ryan Hudacek, Paly graduate and current Vanderbilt University freshman, believes one aspect of this is cleanliness.

“You have to think realistically about your living style rather than idealizing yourself as a super clean or organized person,” Hudacek said. “You really have to consider your day-to-day habits. It’s also important to set boundaries in the beginning but also to be flexible because this is the first time both of you are learning how to live with a stranger.”

Living away from home for the first time can be hard to adapt to. Ben Antonow, a Paly graduate and sophomore at the University of Michigan, found there was a steep learning curve.

“[It took time for me to learn how to] manage not only my area but the common areas of our house clean,” Antonow said. 

Learning to be a good roommate is vital to building a pleasant environment in college, but who you live with is just as important. 

“A messy roommate can be okay if you are fine with that, but what you don’t want is a dirty roommate who leaves food out and never wipes anything down,” Hudacek said. “A pile of clothes is different than two-week-old food.”

Even if disagreements arise, there is always a way to coexist peacefully. University of California, Berkeley sophomore, Evie Barclay has a good perspective on what makes a good roommate. 

“A good roommate is communicative and flexible,” Barclay said. “Even if you and your roommate have differences, a kind roommate who’s willing to compromise goes a long way.”

While moving to college can feel isolating, it is important to note that many are also going through a similar transition. Being someone a roommate can rely on is key to the living process. 

“[I] think a good roommate is someone that you don’t necessarily share interests with or have the same personality as,” Antonow said. “My roommate was the same major as me but we lived very different lives with different schedules.”

In navigating the challenges of dorm living, Hudacek shares some practical insights.

“Extension cords with many outlets are necessary because I can have multiple things plugged in at once anywhere in the room,” Hudacek said. “Also, shoe bins for your closet floor are super helpful because they help keep all your shoes in one place and in a more organized manner. The closets are small so there is not much room to line them up, saving space and keeping things organized is super important in a small dorm.”

Living in a smaller space with a roommate can also bring some technical challenges when it comes to conserving space. While many things are useful in adjusting to living alone, Antonow had a few items that were necessary for the adjustment. 

“[The most useful thing in my dorm was] a drying rack for my clothes because the washers and dryers in my dorm were low quality,” Antonow said. 

Most dorms also come with built-in ceiling lights that are too bright for nighttime studying, early mornings or just everyday life. Barclay advises incoming college freshmen to steer clear.

“The overhead LED lights are awful,” Barclay said. “I have a regular lamp that sits on my desk and a remote-controlled sunset lamp that changes colors.

Stanford Senior Abby Cummings has lived in a dorm for the past four years and knows how to spice up a blank space. 

“During move in, dorm rooms feel generic and sterile which always inspires me to try and decorate my space in a way that feels homey and personal,” Cummings said. “Over the years I have created and collected wall art that is a reflection of who I am — for me that means a lot of nature and ocean-inspired wall decor.”

Regardless of how small the dorm is, some decor and love can make it feel just right. Cummings understands the importance of feeling at home in a dorm room. 

“I have created a space that I look forward to spending time in, and that can start conversations when I have friends over,” Cummings said. “The photos on my walls especially remind me of fond memories and experiences that make me happy.”


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About the Contributors
Brooke Hudacek
Brooke Hudacek, Editor-In-Chief
2022-2023 Staff Writer 2023-2024 Editor-in-Chief I joined C Mag because it is a great community on campus! My favorite part about being a part of C Mag is the creativity and freedom I get to have. It's amazing to be a part of something so many people will see and enjoy. In my free time I like to swim, travel, and hang out with friends!
Siena Dunn
Siena Dunn, Editor-In-Chief
2022-2023 Staff Writer 2023-2024 Editor-In-Chief I joined C Mag because I was drawn in by the diversity of design and creativity throughout each spread. I love that C Mag has become a community of people who have a variety of common interests and who can easily work together. I enjoy dancing, thrifting, and hanging out with my friends.