He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown: Dorm Essentials

dorm essentials

Dorm life: two words that inspire excitement and fear in the hearts of many incoming freshman. I’m Brianna Lambert, a first year student and one of the writers behind He, She and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown. In this column I’ll share all of the good, bad, funny, and painfully awkward things that come along with living in a dorm.

Happy 250th! That’s right, Brown University has been educating unique and driven students for 250 years now. For 250 years, students have come to live and learn on Brown’s campus, and, in those 250 years, scores of them have forgotten to pack some very essential supplies for their dorm room. In this post, I’m going to tell you which of the things you’ll probably forget to pack that you will need so you can be a little more prepared than I was.

Command hooks, command hooks, and more command hooks: These things will become your best friends. They are some of the best tools to maximize your usage of the small space you have.

A broom and/or handheld vacuum: I definitely didn’t think about this one when I moved in. Dorm rooms get really gross really quickly, so you’re going to want to clean it every once in a while. I would suggest getting a multi-purpose Swiffer.

Air freshener: Again, dorm rooms become gross and sometimes smell weird. Make sure your friends will want to hang out in your room by keeping it smelling nice and inviting.

(More) storage containers: So most of you won’t forget to bring storage containers, but you will most likely underestimate how many you’ll need. I ended up buying a couple more when my mom visited for parents’ weekend because I had nowhere to put my sweaters.

Stepladder: This only pertains to those of you who, like me, will loft your bed to the highest point in order to have the maximum amount of under-the-bed storage. You might think that you can just jump into bed every night like I did, but after the first time you hit your head on the wall after overshooting the jump you’ll realize that a stepladder would be so much more efficient.

Passport/social security card: You’ll need these if you ever plan on working a campus job. It also comes in handy if you ever lose your state issued ID for whatever reason (happened to a friend of mine and my roommate, so it isn’t that uncommon).

Iron: Yes, it’s college and no one really cares if your clothes are wrinkle free or not in class, but you’ll thank me when you have an interview for an internship or job and you don’t look like a wrinkled mess.

Stay classy Brunonia,



Hey there! I’m Chelsea Phan, one of the first-year students behind He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown. I’ll be telling you all about the home away from home! 

As you’re thinking about what to bring to the dorm, don’t forget to consider some of these essentials that tend to get overlooked:

  • vacuum: If you have the habit of knocking over cereal boxes, consider bringing along a vacuum. Actually, even if you don’t have that habit, bring one anyway. Dust and other random particles do build up over time, and that can get kind of annoying. I’ve found a hand-held vacuum to be particularly useful, but if you’re planning to have a large rug in the room, a larger, lightweight vacuum might be a better option.
  • door mat: Your mud-soaked or slush-soaked shoes will have a comfortable place to sit as it dries off, and people won’t walk all over your room leaving footprints everywhere. You could just leave your shoes outside in the hall, but some might be a little paranoid about having their shoes stolen or something. Luckily, no shoes have been stolen yet to my knowledge.
  • mirrorIt’s nice to know whether or not you look like a mess before you leave the room. It’s also a lot of work to walk to the bathroom just to use a mirror.
  • mattress padSleep is an integral part of life. Comfortable sleep —> a slightly more comfortable life.
  • fan: There’s no air conditioning in the dorms… I think it’s a Northeastern thing. Coming from Texas, where I was accustomed to blasting the A.C. all the time, I suffered a great deal during the first few weeks of the fall semester (which was, to my surprise, hot and humid).
  • Utensils/Dishware Often times, you’re going to be eating in the dorm, so it’s definitely handy to have these.
  • Trash bags: (get the right size).
  • Flip flops/sandals/slippers: you’re going to be walking around in some not-so-pristine places…

Until next time,


If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future posts, please feel free to email either Brianna or Chelsea at brianna_lambert@brown.edu or bao-han_phan@brown.edu.


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