Packing. Just the thought of it stresses many people out. One group in particular is new college freshmen. Trying to pack everything you think you’ll need for the next 9 months is a daunting task, especially for students going long distances from home. As the oldest child, no matter how many college tours you go on, no matter how many info sessions you try to stay awake through, you don’t really know what to expect. As I get ready for my second year of college, I realize just how different the first year is from the rest.
“What should I take? Does my roommate want to share a fridge or do I need my own? What about a trashcan? Which clothes need to be taken upfront, or should I swap at Christmas? Definitely switch at Christmas. But will I need a coat before then? Or perhaps just a jacket? When does it even get cold? How many drawers did the dresser have when we took the tour? Four, I think. Or was that at the other school…?”
You write list after list after list of things you might need for school. Everyone and their grandma has something else you just have to take that you hadn’t thought of yet.
Throughout the summer you acquire more and more “necessities” for your very first year of college, and they begin to pile up in your floor. Your mother nags you about it being everywhere, but where are you supposed to put it? As the start of school closes in, you begin to put things in anything you can get your hands on in order to pack: bags from shopping for new college items, boxes you stumble upon, totes, trash bags, suitcases, and more.
You finally load it all in your car, and probably some in your parents’ car. You can’t sleep the entire night before because you are nervous and excited and wondering how the year is going to go. “Will I like my roommate? I wonder what my RA’s name is… Oh, how should we arrange our room? I hope our neighbors are friendly. Who am I going to study with? What if my professors are mean? Maybe they’ll be cool and funny. Yeah, not likely. Have I signed up for too many hours? Maybe I didn’t sign up for enough. Did I remember to pack my towels? Mom probably put them in. I’m going to miss my puppy. And my sister. How often should I come home? Maybe I’ll be too busy…”
The next morning, you hit the road, ready (you hope) for your freshman year.
“Wonder what my roommate is bringing… oh well, guess I’ll see when I get there.”
No lists are needed since most of your college belongings are still in totes under your bed or in the guest room.
The day before you leave to go back to school you pack a few toiletries, and you get out the clothes that you took to school last year. Then, you put half of those back because, let’s be honest, you didn’t even wear a lot of them, and you want all the extra closet space you can get.
The night before you leave you put the stuff in your car so you can get up early to beat the crowds to check-in. You go to sleep ready to get back to campus and see all of the friends you’ve been missing all summer long.
Bring it on, year two, bring it on.