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Things you never knew you needed in your dorm

When I loaded the last overflowing Bed, Bath & Beyond bag into the trunk before move-in day for my first year at Brown, I was convinced it would be impossible to ever need anything else. I had stockpiles of bandaids and paper towels, an assortment of t-shirts and nail polishes, and even a collection of multi-colored beaded necklaces (just in case). And based on the amount of boxes and bins and bags I carried up the stairs to my 2nd floor dorm room, I was beginning to accept my status as a classic overpacker. However, I soon realized there were many essentials that I never knew I needed that did not make the trip up to Providence. My mom, who had recently become an empty nester, was happy to secure any items I truly couldn’t live without and hand deliver them to me just two weeks after orientation. 


  1. A fully-equipped bottle opener

Perhaps one of the most formative experiences I’ve had here so far is learning to open a bottle without a bottle opener. And while scissors are great in a pinch (despite the minor battle scars), a corkscrew/bottle opener combination is a must-have. Not a wine girl? You would be surprised how much happiness wine in red solo cups can bring to a pregame. Even if you don’t use it yourself, a neighbor will probably roam the halls looking for one at some point during the year. 

  1. Extra socks 

Laundry is a chore… literally and metaphorically. Most weeks, I run out of clean socks before any other article of clothing. Securing an extra week’s-worth of socks can mean the difference between adding “laundry” to your to-do list and enjoying a stress-free Sunday. Also, the competition for open washers and dryers is fierce in the laundry lounges, so it’s expected to lose a couple matching pairs in the chaos of the cycles. 

  1. A speaker 

This may just be my personal experience, but, without fail, someone always forgets the speaker for the pregame. Playing music off a laptop Spotify can never establish the same mood of excitement as a full-volume jam session. A portable bluetooth is a game-changer.

  1. A stool 

A lofted bed can help tackle the storage issue of dorm living, since the space underneath is seemingly endless. However, the struggle becomes so real when you need to climb just to go to sleep at night. A stool is great for lazy moments when you want to save some energy while getting into bed. It can also be helpful in an attempt to reach the highest closet shelves (Keeney people will know). 

  1. Party shoes

It only takes your favorite pair of white sneakers getting permanently stained by jungle juice once to dedicate a pair of shoes specifically for going out. Mud, drinks, other shoes, and everything in between will find their way to your feet. Be prepared or suffer the loss of your favorite shoes. 

  1. Emergency Snacks 

While the Ratty is truthfully much better than I expected a college dining hall to be, swiping in and navigating long lines is stressful and time consuming. Also, you really never know when you’ll want a snack, whether you’re hungry while studying or need some junk food after a Saturday night. My personal emergency snack kit includes trail mix, Cheez Its, green grapes, and Double Stuf Oreos. 


Packing for college can be an overwhelming task in and of itself, and many “essentials” are often omitted from the official packing list. However, ensuring that you have a couple of these easy-to-forget items can make your first couple of weeks just a little bit easier! 

Maddie is a junior at Brown from Connecticut. She is concentrating in Economics.
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