It’s a four year sentence. White walls and low ceilings glow beneath a harsh fluorescent light. Worn furniture hides patched drywall.
Yet Taylor students have found a variety of ways to make their dorms feel more like home, bringing life to the spaces meant for deeper community.
“Your rooms are where you go to hang out,” sophomore Hanna Fritz, Olson Hall discipleship assistant said. “I thought about that. What if I want people to feel comfortable and welcomed into my room, but then I want them also to feel empowered, and emboldened to go and love other people?”
The answer lay in the details for Fritz.
Bringing smaller items from home, such as a blue and pink quilt or plush dragon, have made all the difference in her space — as has the prayer nook she created.
“I wrote up (prayers for) every one of my family and my prayers for Olson, for my wing. Stuff of that (nature). I need to write more because there's so many people to pray for, but I have those taped up, and in the morning, I read my Bible and then I kneel and I pray in that little spot.”
Junior Sarah Lozier, a junior professional writing major, created a similar space within her dorm. A resident of English Hall, Lozier has decorated both her suite and her room to create a more vibrant community space.
Verses handwritten by Lozier’s family hang next to her bed. A framed picture of a woman touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak is a focal point on the wall.
“Incorporating things that make you (who) you (are) is how I do my room,” Lozier said. “Home to me is just bright colors and stuff that makes you feel cozy. So, nothing on my desk matches color wise because that's just who I am. Because I'm bright and bubbly.”
Lozier’s mix-and-match style is evident across her room, from the purple handmade string pennants a friend gave her to the various bins and organizers stashed in her bookcases. Somehow, it all comes together to create a life-giving space filled with warm colors and fake flowers, perfect for Lozier’s goal of entertaining her friends.
For students hoping to create a more homey environment, however, freshman Rebekah Wells offered several recommendations based on lessons she’s learned over her first few weeks at Taylor.
Her biggest piece of advice, though?
“A big one for me that has really helped in my dorm life has been choosing the right things to splurge on,” Wells noted. “Which, for us, it was a very cute aesthetic mini fridge.”
By thinking ahead on items she hopes to take with her into her future home, Wells learned she didn’t have to sacrifice design for economy. And, attending a seminar on dorm hacks before moving in her freshman year, Wells got a head start on room tips as well.
Taking the advice of the senior Taylor student leading the lecture, Wells bought a sunshine-styled rug and did her best to plan out her room prior to move-in day, another piece of wisdom she recommended for new and returning students alike.
“The last thing I would (recommend)is setting a reset day,” Wells said. “Very, very light dusting, a little bit of vacuuming … honestly it does help. I was here for less than a week and there was dust. And when we vacuumed, the room was noticeably changing.”
Changing the dorm from a blank canvas with a so-called “prison light” to a personal space requires reflection, but finding one or two items that spark personality can make a dorm your own.
And as students create new circles of friends and family across campus, their dorms are becoming more and more their own, a four year sentence becoming a four year first home.