8 Underrated Items That Will Help You Make It Through Your Freshman Year

Written By : Sarah January 

Photo and Graphic by Briggy Jones

Photo and Graphic by Briggy Jones

Moving out on your own for the first time is an exciting yet daunting experience. Though I didn’t  move out for the first time until I went to graduate school at the age of twenty-three, I was still a bit nervous. The stress of a new environment, new people, and a new culture became overwhelming for me on many occasions. Looking back I wish I had someone to tell me what I am about to share with you: even the little things make a difference. Below is a list of every day, completely underrated items which I have found make adulting a whole lot easier and that I wish I had when I first left home. 

A Unique Coffee Cup

I know what you must be thinking...how is a coffee cup good for anything other than holding coffee? Let me explain. To me, there isn’t really anything quite like a good coffee mug that keeps your drink warm while you are trying to wake up, study, or have your nose in a book. Now what could make this little cup of happiness and caffeine even better? Having a funny quote on the side, or having it in the shape of your favorite TV or movie character. An interesting coffee cup is a great way to express yourself and may even be a cool conversation starter to help you make friends. At the very least you don't have to worry about getting it mixed up with your roommates when yours holds about a gallon of coffee while proclaiming how awesome it is making you as you drink it. 

Noise Canceling Headphones

You almost can’t walk around these days without seeing someone with their headphones on tuning out the world around them. At the gym, at the local coffee shop, or just walking down the street, almost everyone you see has a pair. It is important to point out though that not every pair is the same or works as well as another. I had basic pairs of headphones while I was in school but it wasn't until after I graduated and made some grown up money that I invested in a better pair. Let me tell you there is definitely a difference. I take these bad boys with me everywhere and they have been useful in more ways than one. By investing in a great pair before you head out to conquer the world, you give yourself a way to eliminate distractions while you study, help you focus at the gym, or just give you an escape when the world gets too loud. 

Light Eliminating Eye Mask

When you get to college you pay for that education in many ways, and one of those is with sleep. More than likely you will move into a dorm, apartment, or some other space that you will now have to share with more people than you would like to. Therefore, there will likely be lots of noise and lights keeping you up all hours of the night. One way you can combat this and make sure you still get some zzz’s is by eliminating unnecessary light. Light is one of the main enemies of getting a good night’s sleep. If you invest in something like a black out eye mask it may be helpful in ensuring you don’t lose too much sleep. 

Favorite Candle or Diffuser

Photo by Briggy Jones

Photo by Briggy Jones

Did you know that our sense of smell is tied directly to our memory? That’s why the scent of certain things can transport you to a different place and time. I have always had a love of candles and more recently fell in love with my essential oil diffuser to make my living spaces smell amazing. Sometimes I crave the relaxing sight of a flame burning and the subtle scent of vanilla floating through the air. Other times I need my diffuser sending the occasional puffs of lavender or peppermint into the room while I write or meditate. Either of these items can help remind you of home, help you focus, or relax your brain at the end of a long day so having one will be a big help to you in your first year out of your home. 

Great Tasting Coffee or Tea

Photo by Briggy Jones

Photo by Briggy Jones

Remember that cool coffee cup I mentioned earlier? Well what’s the point of having a totally fun cup if you don’t have anything tasty to put in it? Whether you are a hardcore tea drinker or coffee connoisseur, I suggest that you find something that you absolutely love to drink and stock your cabinet with it. I happen to like both coffee and tea, but truly love exploring the many different types of tea the world has to offer. To this day I have multiple boxes of tea sitting next to my box of coffee pods that I use every morning. If coffee or tea aren’t your thing, check out some hot chocolate or ciders or any other kind of magical brews that taste good and make you smile. A good cup of your favorite drink can make a world of difference in your day. 

Cool Sheets 

Now this might sound like a mommy-type thing to say, but good sheets on your bed can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep. An ideal set of sheets helps keep you cool and doesn’t irritate your skin while you are trying to count your sheep. The ideal sleeping temperature for the average person is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees in order to help you reach those deep levels of sleep. When choosing sheets it is also important to consider thread count, the popular range being between 200 and 800. Thread count isn’t everything though, and you should closely consider the type of material as well. Cotton is generally the most popular choice but there are many other options out there including linen, silk, and even bamboo blends. 

Comfy Sneakers

If there is one thing in my wardrobe that I will splurge on more than anything it is my shoes. Not because I am in love with high heels but because I am obsessed with comfort. When you think about it, generally speaking, our feet are what carry us through our daily life. By default, I think shoes should not only be cute and adorable, but also comfortable. 

My go-to for comfortable shoes is a great pair of sneakers. During school I was on my feet all day every day so being uncomfortable or in pain because my shoes were not practical was not an option. I managed to find some decent pairs of sneakers while in college but it wasn’t until I went into the workforce full time that I made a life changing discovery--memory foam! If you have a hard time finding comfy shoes and haven’t tried out a pair with memory foam in the soles I suggest giving it a go. For me it is like wearing a cloud on my feet and these days I pretty much won’t buy a pair without it. 

Fun fact- they now put memory foam in just about every type of shoe including boots and heels. Even my flip flops have it! If by some chance memory foam doesn’t work for you, still make sure that you find yourself a good pair of sneakers that support your feet and your body well. 


Oldie But Goodie Hoodie

Photo by Briggy Jones

Photo by Briggy Jones

There isn’t anything quite like your favorite sweatshirt in the fall and winter months to give you an immediate sense of comfort. Sometimes dorm rooms are freezing or the library is cold, so what better way to warm up than an awesome hoodie? I personally have more hoodies in my closet than I like to admit, but they have always provided me with a psychological sense of security. They also are a great way to express your individual style as there are endless design options for this one piece of clothing. From solid colors to sports team logos to pop culture references, you can find just about any type of hoodie on the internet these days. Find one that expresses who you are and is  comforting to you and it will make being out on your own just a little bit easier. 

This list of items are things I wish I had put more thought into when I first moved away from home. They may seem insignificant or not important in the big scheme of things, but one thing I have learned is that it really is the little things that matter. When you put thought into everyday things like your cup of coffee or the candle in your apartment, those small moments are extra opportunities to incorporate happiness into your life. In my experience learning to appreciate the little stuff like that in life can make all the difference, especially when you are first stepping out to conquer the world. 

Sarah Nichole January 

Sarah January selfie

Sarah nichole january

Sarah is a California girl who has a slight obsession with all things historical in nature or travel related. In addition to her love of history and culture, she has a passion for health and fitness and is also a hardcore bibliophile with an ever growing book collection. Since finishing her Master’s Degree in 2015, she has become a teacher who is growing her career as a writer. When she isn’t teaching or honing her writing skills, you can find her with her nose in a new book, binge watching Supernatural, or planning her next getaway to the beach. If you want to talk about writing, books, history, travel, Disney movies, puppies...or anything in between, feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and IG.