March 5, 2023

CHOUNG | Cluttered Collections 

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In the days between then and now, my room has accumulated memories of my first and second semester and became a home for me to return to. For the longest time, I refused to call my dorm “home” because I wasn’t willing to let go of my hometown or the familiar foundations that fostered my childhood. Cornell wasn’t home; it was merely a place for me to continue my education with the intent to return back home to California in the future. When I first moved into my dorm, it was filled with simply the bare necessities. There was a laundry hamper hidden in the closet, a neat stack of towels on top of my bookshelf and an empty desk only cluttered with various chargers. The only decoration I allowed myself was my beautiful duvet cover set which was a nostalgic first purchase for my dorm room. I didn’t want to take the effort to personalize my room because I knew that I would eventually have to take it all down when I moved out at the end of the year. I was thinking in terms of storage costs and let my dorm room just be an empty shell of what it could be. 

Strangely enough, as the months went on, my room became more and more filled with recollections. There was the water bottle I received at an event during O-Week sitting on top of my bookshelf, quarter cards from Club Fest stuffed in the bottom of my desk drawer. I saw red beaded necklaces from Homecoming on the corners of my bed frame and posters taped up to my wall given to me from my pod-mates in the beginning of the school year. My shoe rack and closet became filled with various online purchases, and my wall was decorated with gifts from friends. A baby blue blanket lies on top of my desk chair and is waiting to be used during my late night study sessions. My trash can is embarrassingly filled with TruFru chocolate covered banana snacks, my newest obsession from Nasties. 

The once hated green walls of Court-Kay-Bauer are now looked upon with familiarity and comfort as I look forward to seeing it after trekking back to North Campus after a long day. I’ve also begun to utilize my kitchen a lot more and began to cook simple homemade Korean meals for the days when the cravings are too intense. Sometimes, the dining hall meals just don’t hit the right spot. My mini fridge is filled with magnets from my travels and a postcard from my first trip to Boston. It was as if one day I blinked, and now my room has become another home for me.

 I never really believed that I would settle into college this comfortably and never gave myself time to idle in the present and the opportunities to make college feel like home. I always thought in terms of the future and I wanted to be as efficient and save as much money as possible. I understood that whatever I bought would not just magically disappear at the end of the school year; it was my burden to figure out storage options for my assortment of clutter that I strangely found myself possessing.  

I am the first to admit that I had a difficult time adjusting to college last semester, and I have various articles written about this topic. I have often used my articles as another coping mechanism because I wanted someone out there to resonate with my feelings and to help me be heard on my struggles. In hindsight, I realized that I never really allowed myself to settle into college. It may sound obvious and strange but I never realized the importance of giving yourself grace and time to settle in. 

Home isn’t defined to a singular place; in fact, it is just tied to me. Wherever I go, my knicknacks of travel souvenirs, collection of thank you and birthday cards and growing pile of hair products to tame my frizzy hair will follow me. Although it’s far from now, as I set out on my path to find my own home after I graduate, I know that I shouldn’t limit myself from settling in based on the time I will spend there. I used to scoff at those who took the extra time to decorate their living spaces, but in college where it’s hard to establish your foundations, it is always heartwarming to return to a room I am proud and comfortable in. 

Adin Choung is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected]. A Dinner is Served runs every other Sunday this semester.