Friday, August 29, 2003

As a renter, Katja Silvera of Sweden has had to move several times as apartments were sold. A few of her favorite things from Sweden include this area rug and a photo of her mother Kaisu Kautonen.

dorm sweet dorm

Students offer tips for turning
a crowded dorm room into
a homey living space

For Mandy Lee, a rice cooker is just as necessary as warm clothes now that she's off to school in Massachusetts.

"I think that rice cooker I'm planning to bring will make me feel most at home," the recent Iolani High School graduate concluded as she examined her 17 years' worth of belongings deciding what to take with her to Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Around this time, many students are deciding among their favorite items and the necessities for surviving dorm life.

"My theory is that all I need is clothes, money and photos of my loved ones," said Jennie Lee, a McKinley High School graduate. "Money could get me everything else, but I'm just going to take anything remotely useful from home."

Jennie Lee started her research online to determine what she might need to survive at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. In addition to clothes and money, she took her laptop and cell phone. The rest, as she says, can be purchased upon moving into her dorm.

Silvera said. as a student working on her master's degree, she's accustomed to living out of suitcases but she always keeps these items with her to remind her of home: A photo of her mother, left, when she was Katja's age, 28, and a four-leaf clover her mom gave her.

Students moving away from home for the first time will want to personalize their new space and bring those special objects that will transform a monotonous dorm room into a home.

"I'd say my pillow and blanket will make me feel most at home," said Patrick Ho, an Iolani School graduate, who's now studying at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

While many freshmen will be moving into a dorm for the first time, Cara Fasone is already an old pro. Fasone, from Mililani, is a junior attending the University of Hawaii and lived at UH's Noelani Apartments last semester.

She remembered the excitement of moving in, only to be greeted by the sight of lizard feces throughout the room, something that newcomers, accustomed to having mom as housemaid back home, may have problems dealing with.

Luckily, the room cleaned up nicely.

Students moving into the Noelani Apartments at the University of Hawaii at Manoa brought essentials and a few favorite things to help them feel at home. Jonathan Gallegos bought his Mitchell guitar.

"My roommate is a fan of HGTV 'Design for the Sexes,' and she helped make our room as girly as possible with lots of color, butterflies and flowers," Fasone said. "The weirdest thing in our apartment was a vase we made out of a female condom."

And more help was available. "The girls downstairs painted stars and a huge portrait of Bob Marley and Jesus in our living room," said Fasone.

To make her side of the room feel more homey, she brought pictures of friends and family. Fasone did not bring a lot of belongings into the apartment because she knew it would not be her permanent home.

"We see students come with basically a backpack, to a student coming with a U-Haul truck," said Darryl Zehner, the director of UH Student Housing Services.

Typically, students bring posters, computers, televisions and microwave ovens. Zehner has even seen a full-size recliner. But he said the thing most students bring is photos that remind them of home.

Student Jason Albertson got some help from his wife Melissa, and sons, David, 7 , and Jonathan, 3.

THREE THOUSAND students, the maximum capacity, moved into the dorms last weekend. According to Zehner, about 40 to 50 percent of these students are from Hawaii, two-thirds of the remainder are from the mainland and the final third are from other countries.

According to Hawaii Pacific University's Web site, more than 2,100 international students from more than 100 countries attend HPU. These international students have far to travel and bring their most precious belongings.

Katja Silvera had to make the long trip from Sweden carrying what would make her feel at home, a Gabbeh designer rug. She brought two suitcases and counts on visits from family and friends, who bring more of her belongings.

"I've lived out of suitcases for the last four years," said Silver, who is working on her master's degree in communications at HPU.

She believed that students should make their new home cozy and comfy, but in addition to packing up physical goods, she said an important aspect of growth and independence is carrying personal traits that "may include courage, an open mind, independence and a willingness to learn about new people, their individual lifestyles, their cultures and their traditions."

Friends make the job easier. Masashi Shimonao, left, carts luggage withthe aid of Jamie Yamamoto and Jamie Murakami.

Some students are nervous or scared about making the transition, but faculty members assigned to dorms are available to help make the move easier.

UH, for example, offers several trips to Wal-Mart or Kmart so students won't have to ship items to the dorms. The students arrive on a bus provided by the university and are given three to four hours to shop. Trucks later haul the newly purchased items back to the dorms.

"Don't bring everything the first day. Bring what you basically need for that first day, and then talk to your roommate to determine what you really need," advised Zehner.

Consulting with your roommate about what is needed for your new home is important, but Fasone, speaking from experience, says ground rules also need to be established to have a happy and clean home.

"We had no ground rules, so no one cleaned and we just lived in filth. With no mommy to pick up after me, it got pretty messy. I could feel things breaking beneath my feet when I walked around," said Fasone.

Leila Nguyen and Brent Edwards rolled their belongings to their dorm rooms at Noelani Aparments.

Cleaning the new home is just one thing students face without having their parents there. Zehner explained that no one will be there to make them attend classes, and he noticed that was one of the harder things for students to get used to living away from home.

"To be completely independent, that's scary and, at the same time, exciting," said Mandy Lee.

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