Community / Lifestyle

Dana Boarding: Life Hacks

Are you a Dana Hall boarder and reading this now? If so, CONGRATULATIONS! You have thus far managed to survive the sometimes treacherous boarding life of Dana Hall. At this point, you know the basics of how to board. There’s no need for me to tell you things like brush your teeth, do your homework, and shower occasionally. Hopefully, you’ve already mastered those essentials. Now, it’s time for the fun stuff: Dana Hall boarding hacks. Compiled for you here are the top 10 little-known boarding hacks that you can use to make your boarding experience even better. You’ve learned how to survive Dana Hall boarding life. Now, it’s time to learn how to thrive!

Tip #1: Open your shutters during the day so that the sunshine can dry out your room.
If you board in one of the Johnston dorms, then you probably know all too well just how damp and sticky the room can get when it is humid outside. The Johnston dorms tend to mirror the weather outside; if the humidity outside is above 60% and you don’t own a dehumidifier, your room is inevitably going to be humid as well. The simplest and most effective way that I have found to keep my room feeling crisp and dry is by opening up my window blinds each morning and allowing the sunshine to flood my room while I am at school. This immediate brightness not only helps to keep the oppressive humidity at bay, but it also helps to wake me up on even the roughest of early mornings.

Tip #2: When you miss a pet from back home, seek out one of the many campus pets.
Do you love animals or miss your own pets back home? When you’re a boarder at Dana, life can get pretty stressful. Managing this stress can be especially challenging for boarders because they don’t have all the comforts of home at school with them. At home, when I get stressed out, what usually makes me feel better is giving one of my enormous fluffy cats a huge hug. While I don’t have my own kitties at school with me, there are several faculty pets that can fulfill my pet-hugging needs. These include Janna’s dog Lucky in the Shipley Training Center and Grayson’s dog Satch in Johnston D. When asked if Satch likes attention from students, Grayson’s answer was a resounding “Absolutely!” According to Grayson, “Satch loves meeting new people and making new friends. He’s also a great dog for people trying to get familiar with dogs.” Grayson describes him as “calm, gentle, and extremely smart” and I personally can attest to the fact that he is an absolute sweetheart. If you’re looking to get some quality cuddle time with Satch, Grayson advises that you visit on the nights that she and Satch are on dorm duty. The very best night to seek out Satch is “on Fridays” says Grayson “because we have extra free time to relax in the lounge.” Personally, I can think of no better way to start off the weekend than by petting a sweet dog like Satch. So, next time you miss your pets or just want to hug something fluffy, go give one of the campus’s many pets some love. Not only will petting them make you happy, but it will make the pooches happy as well. It’s a total win-win!

Tip #3: When you just need a break from campus, check out the Brook Path.
Do you love nature, but find that living on campus makes it difficult to get out and enjoy it? If so, then the Brook Path is the place for you! The Brook Path is a beautiful walking area that is conveniently located parallel to Dana Hall and stretches for nearly 2.5 miles. The path follows Fuller Brook and passes by both Hunnewell School and the Wellesley High Stadium. Well-maintained and not usually busy, the Brook Path is perfect for walking, relaxing, or taking photos with friends. While the Brook Path is gorgeous year-round, my favorite time of year to walk it is in the Spring. As soon as the snow melts and the temperature begins to rise, the Brook Path becomes a playground to countless baby bunnies, squirrels, chicks, and even the occasional deer. When walking the path in the Springtime, it feels as though you’ve stepped straight into the Snow White fairy tale! Another gorgeous time to walk the Brook Path is in the Autumn when the canopy of trees that shelter it are all changing from lush green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, and gold. Whenever you want to take in a bit of natural wonder, you need look no further than the Brook Path. So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend and go check it out!

Tip #4: If you are too stressed to function, try visiting the Health Center Stress Room.
Have you heard of the Health Center Stress Room? Well if you haven’t, I’m here to let you know that, when Dana Hall has you stressed beyond belief, there is actually a special place you can go to recover. This place is the Health Center’s Stress Room, and it might be the campus’s best-kept secret. It is available to day and boarding students alike and as long as the Health Center is open, the Stress Room will be too. Paige Gallenberger, a day student who has visited the Stress Room on several occasions, is a big fan of it. She says, “Whenever I am under a lot of stress, I go to the Stress Room. It’s a great way to get off the internet and away from my studies, which are both the root of my stress.” Paige, like many students, feels that sometimes she simply needs to “focus on the present and set all worries aside for a brief moment during the school day.” So, next time boarding life has you stressed beyond belief, take a quick trip to the Stress Room where you can recollect yourself by taking a nap on the couches, coloring with crayons, watching a movie, or even taking your rage out on a Dammit Doll. While getting stressed out every once in a while is inevitable, the Stress Room is an excellent resource to help make these times easier.

Tip #5: If you have international friends who use different social media, download it!
As a boarder at Dana Hall, where the international student population is 15%, it is very likely that you have friends who are from countries other than your own. Some of my closest boarding friends are from countries all across the world, and it is truly incredible to make friendships with people who have grown up in places and had experiences so different from my own. While having close international friends is amazing, there is one big obstacle to these friendships: keeping in touch long distance. I remember my Freshman year at Dana trying to get in contact with some of my boarding friends over Winter Break and finding that none of my texts would go through. Over and over again, I tried to send messages but had no luck. It was only weeks later, once my classmates and I had all returned to Dana, that I learned that texts couldn’t send internationally. Luckily though, I found a solution to this problem: the wonderful app WeChat. WeChat is an app that enables you to text, call, and even FaceTime other users around the world regardless of their location. Since then, I have discovered that there are tons of different apps that I had never even heard of before that are helpful for keeping in touch with far-away friends. If you want to keep in contact with your new boarding friends around the globe, I highly recommend that you ask them about the different social media apps that they use and download them for yourself. Just this simple action is beyond helpful when it comes to keeping in touch. Also, you may even find, as I did with WeChat, that you like some of these apps even more than your own!

Tip #6: Check out all of the places you can grab snacks on campus.
Do you like food? Of course you do! As a boarder, I eat almost every meal at Dana Hall, so finding a variety of yummy foods on campus and keeping things interesting is very important. Personally, I find that the dining center food can get a bit repetitive and boring if you eat there 3 times a day and 7 days a week. Luckily for boarders, there are several different places on campus that you can grab a quick snack or even load up on junk food for the week. These include the snack area in the Student Center, the vending machine and Snack Shack in Shipley, or even the Health Center! I find the Shipley vending machine to be an especially good option because, if Shipley is open, the vending machine will be too. Also, if you are truly desperate for snacks, the Health Center is also a good place to go because they have emergency snacks available and will supply them if you need them. All you need to do is ask nicely.

Tip #7: A snack stash that you can stow under the bed is essential.

Another food-related tip is to always stock your room with non-perishables. While keeping food in the dorm fridge is an option, there is always the risk that it will be stolen. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have non-perishables at the ready. From personal experience, I can attest that it is absolutely no fun to believe that you have a dinner waiting for you in the fridge only to discover that it has been eaten by someone else and you now have nothing. These mysterious cases of disappearing food are somewhat frequent in the Johnstons, and I have learned that backup snacks are an unfortunate but necessary safety precaution. Luckily for hungry boarders, there is a wide variety of interesting and tasty non-perishable food options. My roommate Annie Xu is an expert when it comes to finding healthy fun snacks that can easily be stored in a closet or under a bed. Annie says that “Granola bars are important because they are so easy to grab for an early morning or whenever.” In addition to bars, Annie also says that she “personally like[s] to stock up on nuts.” I have found that seltzer bottles, microwavable soups, chips, and candy are also all good options. Really, you can get as creative as you want with your snacks, but just always make sure that you have some on hand.

Tip #8: Have fluffy blankets at the ready for wintertime and take full advantage of your heater.
New England can be utterly frigid in the wintertime. Over the last two years, I have accumulated several different strategies for beating the cold and staying toasty in the dorms even during the harshest of snow storms. First and foremost, blankets (and lots of them) are essential when it comes to keeping cozy. I always have at least one huge fluffy blanket on hand. It’s unbelievable the difference that one thick soft blanket on your bed at night can make between an unrestful night of shivers and a night of blissful sleep.

Tip #9: Take full advantage of your room heater.
If fluffy blankets alone aren’t enough to keep you warm, I also have one more secret weapon against the cold. What is this wondrous secret weapon, you ask? Two words: heater perching. In the wintertime, whenever I make the trek across campus from school to my dorm, there is only one thought on my mind: get warm again as fast a possible. The best way that I have found to do this is by rushing into my room and immediately cranking up the heater. Once the hot air begins to blow out of it, my favorite thing to do is perch myself on top of the heater and wait for myself to thaw out. This practice is something that has come to be known as, “heater perching”, and it has helped me to go from freezing to toasty more times than I can count. Since Freshman year when I first began to do this, it has become something of wintertime ritual for me, and the heater is now my absolute favorite part of the room. I know it sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, but trust me, it might change your life.

Tip #10: Download reward apps or get reward cards for your favorite shops in Wellesley Center.
If you are a boarder at Dana Hall, you have probably already become pretty familiar with the shops in Wellesley Center. After all, the majority of these shops are conveniently located only a quarter of a mile away from the dorms. This close proximity is amazing because it means that I can decide that I want pizza from Old School and have that said pizza in my hands within 20 minutes! Can life get any better? There is one downside to this closeness, though. Over time, the habit of frequently going to town can get pretty expensive. That’s where my tip comes in handy: use reward apps and cards. As a frequent patron of the Wellesley restaurants and shops, I have become something of an expert on which businesses have reward cards or apps and how to make the most of them. It may seem like they won’t make much of a difference, but trust me, they really truly do. The sheer amount of free goodies that you are given when you first sign up make it worth it in and of itself, from free bagels, to coffee, to ice-cream. From personal experience, the reward programs that I have found to be the most worthwhile are the following: Peet’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins, Bruegger’s, CVS, B.Good, and J.P. Licks. So what are you waiting for? Go sign up and start enjoying free food and awesome rewards! What could be better than that?


I have now bestowed upon you the top ten boarding tips and tricks I have learned over the years. Now, with these tips in mind, go forth, fellow boarders, and hack your Dana Hall experience. The campus is your oyster and Wellesley is yours for the taking. It’s time for you to thrive!

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