Gradifying is thrilled to welcome Lauren Anstey to the blog today! Lauren will be discussing the important of establishing a “home” during your graduate training and various ways you accomplish that goal. For more about Lauren, scroll to the end of this post. If you would like to contribute a guest post to Gradifying, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
On a hot and sticky September afternoon, I rolled up to the front doors of my new apartment – the place I was to call home for the next two years as I completed my Master’s degree at Queen’s. The transition was a familiar one; I had moved into university residence in the first year of undergrad, and then I had moved again in second year, staking out my personal space amidst the mess of roommates. This transition, however, would be something different. I had yet to meet my classmates or get to know others in my department. Kingston was a new place to me and this little bachelorette pad was to be all my own… alone. Thinking of the old saying ‘home is where the heart is’ left me feeling homesick for my hometown, for the familiarity of my parents’ house, and for the comfort of having my undergrad friends beside me in the next room.
Making the transition to a new living space can disrupt your sense of comfort and of home. It’s going to take some getting used to before the blank walls of a new apartment or room begin to feel like your own. But getting set up and settled into a new place is an important part of getting ready mentally for the school year ahead. A student’s living space will serve many functions over the course of a school year: a starting point for each day, a place of rest and refuge, a social gathering place, a place of work, challenge, thought, and finding solutions. The physical setup of your space is likely to impact the way you feel about your new home and how you operate out of it. Here are some considerations that may be helpful in turning that new space into a home:
The Bare Necessities
When you set up your space, consider not just what’s familiar but what might actually be necessary. Obviously, a bed, linens, a dresser or closet, a workspace with a comfortable chair, cutlery, dishes, and more, are all essential components of a home. In the effort to save space, many of us unwittingly pare down items that have actually been key parts of our productive routines. For instance, foregoing a kitchen table to save space might make sense at first but once you settle into a routine, that kitchen table might just be the secret ingredient you need for a fresh start to each morning. Admittedly, all the necessities do add up and it can be challenging to transport everything to Kingston. In some cases, you can save yourself the trouble and find items once you are here! Check out yard sales and Kijiji ads for great deals.
Colour Your World
Some landlords will allow renters to paint their space. If you get the green light, give your space a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. Select a colour that is familiar and comforting or fresh and revitalizing. Budget-friendly paints and supplies are available at most big-box home renovation stores. But if you are looking for something closer, check out Vandervoort’s General Store which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. For the sake of your health and the environment, you may also want to consider low- or no-VOC paints, which reduce your exposure to the chemicals given off by many household items (including paint, carpets, furniture).
Home décor doesn’t have to break the bank. Decorate with photos and artwork that make you feel good and you enjoy looking at. Online resources such as Pinterest and budget home décor blogs (such as Dorm Design and Thrifty College House) can serve as sources of inspiration for easy and affordable home decorating.
Show and Tell
Whether family or friends are around the corner or around the globe, sharing your space with others helps to strengthen a connection between you and your new home. Give your parents a Skype tour, take a photo of your room and send it to a friend, or send out a change-of-address e-card so others have your new address. The more you share your space with others, the more it will become your own.
Now that the above tips have spurred a great big to-do list for your new place, plan on stopping by the Back-to-School Charity Warehouse sale being hosted by the Queen’s Sunshine Foundation Club on Saturday September 7th. The sale will have nearly everything you need to cover the necessities, get creative, and decorate your new home, all at low yard sale prices; and it gets better – all proceeds from the sale will go towards the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, granting dreams to kids with severe physical disabilities and life-threatening illness. So put your heart into your new home and support a great cause in the process!
Lauren Anstey is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education and an Educational Development Associate with the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s. She has been an active member of The Sunshine Foundation’s Kingston Chapter since 2011 and is excited to be founding president of The Queen’s Sunshine Foundation Club this year. In her spare time, Lauren can be found working on creative projects around her downtown home with her husband.