Each year, as soon as the school year begins, a black hole slowly opens up in my life. Almost instantaneously money and time disappear, and my living space shrinks down to a fraction of the space that I’m used to at my parents house.

This time, I’m coming in as a junior, halfway done with college. The thought is as equally terrifying as it is thrilling, and I like to think that in my time at Mason so far, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips to make college living a little easier.

Cooking, and eating, are a passion of mine. Though I’m currently living in a dorm with a kitchen, I’ve also got some great recipes for easy homemade microwave meals. Grocery bills can add up quickly when you move into a room with a kitchen, so I’ll also share some of my favorite recipes and menus for cheap and quick dorm eating.

I love recycling and up-cycling to turn old or unwanted things into something new and exciting. It’s also a great way to save money and have fun getting creative and crafty. I’m a firm believer in making your space your own, so I’ve completed several D.I.Y. projects for my dorm room to feel more at home.

To stay sane as I load myself down with three jobs and 18 credits this fall, I have to keep myself organized and efficient to make sure that everything gets done well, and on time. I’m not a naturally organized person, so agendas, calendars and lists are this girl’s best friend.

I made this D.I.Y. customizable calendar to sit on my desk so that I can map out my major responsibilities of the week. Overall, it cost me less than $5 and since I made it myself, I was able to pick the colors and number of blocked days. I chose to make mine a weekly calendar, but you could expand it to a month-long or color code it according to your schedule. For roommates, it might be a good idea to hang the calendar in a central location in the room with both of your schedules permanently inked in under the glass.