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Accessorized to Learn 

Back to School ’07: Face it. You’re gonna need some frills to go to college.

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College students are nomads. They band together in a 20-something Diaspora, linked together through their junk cars, cardboard boxes and mini-fridges. Each fall, they force clothes into tiny dorm-room closets. Each spring, they shove their crumpled garb back in duct-taped duffels and head for summer dwellings.

As you unpack your printer and desk lamp, the dorm hall’s din seeps through thin walls. You quickly realize your roommate chews with his mouth open and has horrendous body odor yet still brings numerous girls home. People are drinking, screaming and spinning in circles on the lawn every weekend. Suddenly you’re not just a nomad; you’re living in a collegiate traveling circus as a trapeze artist balancing study time and social adventures. At times, it drives you insane.

At college, your room is a safe haven. Be yourself behind a closed door. Break something or watch hours of television online. You can tune out (or tune in) whenever you please. The following items will help you keep your sanity and originality in a mad, mad world.

Stock up on essentials before leaving for school. Head to Costco and buy a jumbo-size ibuprofen bottle. Ibuprofen’s uses are endless, especially in a college room: It solves stress headaches, stomach cramps from cafeteria-food toxins and Popov-shot hangovers. You’ll end up eating them like they’re candy.

Also on the list: a miniature sewing machine (find one at Walgreens or Toys-R-Us). The Freshman 15 will cause you to pop a few buttons, and you’re too poor to buy new jeans. Sewing machines patch holes in seconds, and they beat using a hand needle. If you are a DIY person, they’re convenient for changing dress hems or taking in vintage T-shirts. Sewing machines help you stay three steps ahead of Urban Outfitters and that, my friend, is a good place to be.

Fish some twinkle lights out of your family’s Christmas storage box. Dorm-room fluorescent lights are often bright enough to singe your eyes. Hang up some light strands, plug in table lamps and avoid flipping that switch. Otherwise, the light bouncing off white-washed walls will make you feel like you’re in a hospital wing.

Everything else you need short of a Prozac prescription is available in local, independent stores. Buying from Salt Lake City vendors will insure your dorm-room possessions are original. Plus, you’ll have something to hold when you get homesick.

Stop by Sam Weller’s (254 S. Main), Ken Sanders Rare Books (268 S. 200 East) or The King’s English (1511 S. 1500 East) to get a couple page-turners. Even though college courses are usually reading-heavy, you should have books that you’ll enjoy when you’re stressed. It doesn’t have to be mentally stimulating—pick up the latest smutty novel or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if that’s what soothes you.

You should also hang some local artists’ prints or posters on your white-washed walls. A dorm room isn’t an insane asylum but cramped conditions and bleak décor may cause you to think it is. Potter Press’ (sold at Slowtrain Music, 221 E. Broadway) and Leia Bell’s (LeiaBell.com) prices directly correlate with student bank accounts, starting at as little as $12.

Music taste varies as much as DNA. You and your roommate may get on splendidly, but when she cranks up the Van’s Warped Tour compilation, you’ll want a pair of headphones.

While picking up your Potter Press print at Slowtrain, peruse the sparkling veneer shelves. You don’t want those new headphones to collect dust. If shuffling through alphabetical stacks overwhelms you, Slowtrain’s owners, Chris and Anna Brozek, offer the following must-have dorm-room soundtracks:

• Feist, The Reminder: “The perfect summer album. If you keep it around the dorm, it’ll surely ease you back into that great summer mood. Look for it on the best of 2007 lists … it will be there.”

• Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane over the Sea: “This is not only one of the best albums ever, but it is an indie-rock staple. Keep it around for long nights, lonely nights, or not-so-lonely nights when you want to show off your music credibility.”

• Velella Velella: Bay of Biscay: “A little bit electronic, a little bit funk. It’s almost unheard of, so be the first to show off this party gem.”

Finally, even though you’re living a hectic college life, you’ll want to keep in touch with your family and friends back home. The world may have gone electronic decades ago, but writing snail mail to your grandmother or friend will calm you down after turning in a 20-pager or fighting with your roommate. It’s also nice to open your mailbox and find something other than your latest DVD arrival (yes, you should get a Netflix account).

Letter-writing is an exquisite escape. Spend a little money on unique correspondence goods. Find an oh-so-sweet card set at Blue Cockatoo Gallery (1506 S. 1500 East) for Granny, but for your other letters, pick something morbid or burlesque-themed at Jared Gold’s boutique, Black Chandelier (Gateway and Trolley Square malls).

You may enjoy experiencing nomad adventures and absurdities, but it’s good to touch down to earth once in awhile—even if that just means mailing a postcard or taking a nap with earplugs. It can’t be Cirque de Soleil every day; even trapeze artists have to sleep. {::NOAD::}

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Kit Warchol

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