When I first set foot in Prospect 116, it felt like home. Someone’s home, anyway. The soothing scent of goji berry and orange, Adele’s husky voice and the pink hue of the walls and bedspread created an oasis of coziness amidst the building’s overwhelming dinginess.
It was obvious that the room put Emma Teal Laukitis ’13 in a serene state of mind, too. “It’s my sanctuary,” she said, exhaling with a smile. “It’s where I come to just get away from everything.”
Ironically, Laukitis hadn’t even planned on decorating after returning from her semester abroad in Italy. “I was like, oh, I only have one semester. I won’t decorate. But then I spent all of Winter Study decorating,” she said with a laugh.
Her efforts paid off. The room is easy on the eyes, particularly the colorful photo montage above the bed. It includes the types of pictures you’d expect to find on a student’s dorm wall – photos of Laukitis’s family and friends, mementos from her semester in Italy and her own artwork. But there are also quirkier components – black and white photos of strangers, random pieces of sheet music and an Alaskan flag.
For Laukitis, constructing this creative collage is an annual affair. “I always resist putting the same things up,” she said. Many of the items adorning Laukitis’ wall are things people have sent to her. “I have lots of pen pals,” she said. As she grew up with limited Internet access in rural Alaska, Laukitis has been writing letters for years. “It’s like a routine,” she explained. “I love snail mail. I still send everyone letters.” If any readers are seeking a site to display work publicly, a quick tip: Your best chance might be to drop it in Laukitis’s SU box.
Laukitis’s culinary corner – complete with a fridge and wicker basket overflowing with teabags – reinforces the room’s homey vibe. She confirmed that her pad is always stocked with two dietary staples: tea and oatmeal. “I just went to Wild Oats and stocked up,” she said. “I got peanut butter and dried cherries and jam and walnuts and raspberries. I just go to the store to buy stuff to put in my oatmeal. It’s the only reason I get out of bed in the morning.”
The junior’s luxury pad wouldn’t be complete without its large picture window. The room is situated on a hilltop, offering a bird’s eye view of the campus below. You can see football players hustling, squirrels scurrying and hungry students sauntering to dinner at Driscoll. The window also offers a chance to observe a curious campus structure, which Laukitis affectionately calls, “that weird building that steams.” Though she’s not exactly sure what goes on there (who is?), Laukitis has a hypothesis: “It’s like something out of Harry Potter. Something inside is magical and creates steam.”
Speaking of magic, the room also contains a promising good luck charm: Tacked to the wall is a signed jersey from Olympic skier Nina Kemppel. “She was a family friend. My sister and I used to ski in high school, so she gave it to us,” Laukitis said. “I still wear it around sometimes.”
I asked Laukitis if her room reflected her personality. “I guess so,” she replied. “I like to make things, create things. All the time here, we’re thinking about other people’s creations and we don’t get to create things ourself.” That explains the large basket of art supplies under the desk, which Laukitis breaks out whenever she needs to whip up a batch of custom-made valentines. As I came to find out, the girl is crazy for crafts. I asked if she wouldn’t mind making me some cards to hand out to friends. “I’ll do it,” she said with a giggle. “I’ll do it, and it’ll be dangerous because I won’t get any work done. Crafts are my favorite thing ever!”
Unfortunately, Laukitis will have to abandon her well-adorned magpie’s nest in a few months’ time. But she’s already thinking ahead to next year. She plans to rent a house on Latham Street with three friends. “I’m excited to cook and just feel kind of independent,” she said. And since the house is a bigger space, there will be more to decorate. Perhaps Laukitis and company will adopt a theme – maybe even have individually themed rooms. “We could do rooms of the world,” she proposed. “Or we could have a dinosaur room. I have lots of dinosaur stickers.”
Whatever theme the group decides to adopt, it seems like Laukitis is envisioning a bright future for her off-campus crib. Between good friends, themed rooms and a fully-stocked oatmeal pantry, it seems like she’s well on her way to creating a home away from home. There’s just one thing missing. As Laukitis noted, “All I need is a puppy.”