You’ve seen it in movies, you’ve heard stories, and now it’s on your calendar: move-in day. It’s the inevitable threshold to the next four years of excitement, friends, and opportunity.
Way, way back, when I was a freshman (I’m a rising sophomore) this date loomed over me all summer long. How could I possibly transfer my enormous and still growing pile of college supplies from my foyer to my dorm room? What poor, unfortunate souls would be forced to carry my storage containers, stuffed with cold medicine and cereal, upon my arrival to campus?
I am not kidding when I say that members of the Welcome Wagon—a group of student volunteers who assist freshmen on move-in day—audibly groaned as my car pulled up. “This is a big one,” a volunteer had turned to warn friends. I remember looking at my sister and steeling myself for what was sure to be a disaster of a day (spoiler: it wasn’t).
The Gavel has been in your shoes, and now we would like to impart some wisdom to the Class of 2023 (and all those who come afterward). Channel any anticipation into making preparations this next month and soon you’ll find yourself counting down the days to the start of the semester.
Pack in advance.
It may feel too soon to start picking out snacks or setting aside clothes anytime before August, but it is truly never too early. As summer comes to a close and friends start leaving one by one, the last thing you want on your mind is the decision between a Full versus Twin XL sized comforter (Pro Tip: if you want it to cover the side of your bed, Full is your best bet).
Try creating a separate packing list for each category (clothing, toiletries, food, etc.), and work through them slowly. Not everyone is within driving distance of BC and packing entails a different thought process for those individuals. International and non-East coast students could benefit from making a different kind of list, one that involves making decisions about which items they want to bring and which they intend to buy after move-in. A written record will minimize the chances that important items are forgotten.
The room you are living in is essentially a cinder block box. It is your cinder block box, though, and design possibilities are extensive! Your dorm is a place to unwind, to study, or to host friends. It’s a place where you will laugh, cry, and call home. It is your new home.
The best advice in terms of planning your “theme” is to bring items that make you happy and to communicate with your roommate. Create a space that you will enjoy coming back to after class, but remember that your roommate(s) is going to have to look at whatever you choose to display for the next nine months. It is courteous to check in with your roommate's plans and make sure you are on the same page.
Also, remember that there is a reason no furniture is nailed to the floor. You are invited to shift pieces to what best suits your needs. The beds, for example, could face the door, meet in an “L”, or sit in opposite corners of the room. There is no right or wrong layout, only what makes the most sense to you.
Remember the boring things.
I was so invested in picking out a tapestry and printing pictures that I neglected to remember some of the most basic tools I use at home. I can‘t recommend it enough: bring (or buy) cleaning supplies. Assembling a collection of tools guarantees you the ability to tackle just about any mess—and messes will happen.
Clorox wipes are perfect for rubbing down desks, micro-fridges, and door handles (hello, cold season). Any type of floor cleaner, even a small broom and dustpan, is a smart addition. A lint roller is a great way to clean off your comforter without completely washing it. Bringing a glass or window spray is a great way to keep mirrors clean. Paper towels are a multipurpose staple and, above all else, should be invested in. All out of plates? Spilled coffee on your rug? Postmates skimped on napkins? The solution to each of these problems lies in a roll of Bounty paper towels.
Take advantage of shopping opportunities.
One of the trademark events put on during Welcome Week is a class-wide trip to what is arguably the epitome of warehouse stores: Target. This means that, should anything be forgotten, you can find peace in the fact that it will likely be available there.
The BC bookstore also carries more essentials than you may be prepared to find (think everything from face masks to dry shampoo). Groceries and other convenience stores are scattered around campus, and accessible via the campus bus system, a quick Uber ride, or sometimes a short walk. BC and the surrounding area has you covered.
Notice those around you.
The people living nearby, from neighbors directly across the hall to your Resident Assistant (RA), will be a constant presence throughout the year. This is not to say you will all become best friends. You will, however, run into them often, learn their names quickly, and ideally forge the unique bond that can only come from sharing a bathroom with twelve people.
It is easy to stay in a bubble of your own thoughts during move-in day and focus only on what happens within your room. However, introducing yourself or at least saying “Hi!” to the new faces you pass can be a great way to start getting to know the people you're living with. Creating an open, friendly atmosphere on your floor is crucial, and it starts with your approach to floormates. Resist the urge to nervously look away. Invest in others early on, and you will reap the benefits of a positive floor atmosphere all year long.
Open yourself to whatever feelings this day brings.
For many students, moving into dorms marks the first time leaving home—and families—behind. Crying when you hug your family goodbye is far from a sign of weakness. This is, rather, a testament to your gratitude for the last eighteen years or so. Showing some emotion could also help your parents cope with the painful process of letting go. Tearful farewells will be happening all day long, whether they be in airports, residence halls, or parking lots, so try to banish any embarrassment.
At the same time, hold on to the excitement as well. There are so many reasons to be happy—think of all that first semester will bring! New faces to meet, spaces to explore, lessons to absorb. Not to mention a beautiful New England fall, months of tailgating, and an extensive list of club meetings (check out The Gavel at the Student Involvement Fair in August!).
To quote the BC Office of Residential Life, in reference to moving in and out of residence halls, “Well, to be honest, it's not easy!” Then again, nothing worth doing is easy. Embrace move-in day for all that it is sure to be: hectic, emotional, messy… and a milestone to remember. Everyone around you wants nothing more than to help, and every other member of your class is going through the exact same thing. The Gavel and the rest of campus cannot wait to have you here in Chestnut Hill. Best of luck and see you soon!
Next to writing, some of my favorite ways to spend time include designing Spotify playlists for friends and making grocery runs to Trader Joe's. I'm drinking coffee or tea almost constantly, and my mantra is the classic yet undeniably basic, "If it's meant to be, it will be!"