Moving away from home and into a residence hall isn’t easy for anyone, but the transition can be much smoother if you pack light and pack smart. Ensure you have the essentials first: twin XL (extra long) sheets and linens, a computer and plenty of surge protectors and extension cords, desk and backpack essentials, and basic toiletries. Unless you are living in an apartment or Jack-and-Jill style room with a private bathroom, you will probably not be allowed to leave any personal items in the bathroom. A shower caddy is a must for easily transporting your toiletries. Pack only a few kitchen supplies such as plates, bowls and flatware only packing a few pots and pans if you know you will be cooking. If your college is close to home, save closet space by only bringing clothes for one season at a time and then switching them out throughout the year. Stock up on Command hooks and strips (especially the velcro hangers): these have a thousand uses and won’t damage walls. Leave your printer at home–most colleges have a free printing program with print stations throughout campus. Be sure to coordinate beforehand with your roommate on who will be bringing which bigger items such as a fridge, microwave, or TV, if you both want them in the room, sharing is a good space saving option. For a complete packing list, check out www.collegepackinglist.com
Now that you are packed for college, lets get ready for move in day! On move in day you will want to ensure that you and your roommate work out timing of each of your arrivals; while it can be fun to move in at the same time for the sake of bonding, it can also be stressful and the two families can overcrowd the room. Often times it is good to stagger your timing in the room unpacking. After the bulk of unpacking is over you two can decorate together, or grab dinner to start out your joint living experience.
A Resident Adviser (often called an RA) is a student who lives on your dorm and helps you transition to campus and everything that comes with living in a residence hall. Usually, they’ll hold an opening meeting to introduce themselves and explain a little bit about how they can help you. This is a great time to meet everyone you’ll be living with and since they make these meetings mandatory, don’t be shy! You’ll want to make friends early, so don’t miss this chance.
The first time you meet your RA, don’t hesitate to ask them any sort of questions that have been bouncing around in your head. Whether it’s how to figure out the bus schedule or how to work the showers, they are happy to help you, so take advantage of that guaranteed friend. If you have a roommate, you’ll also sit down with them and your RA to do a roommate contract. This is just a way to set ground rules and expectations of each other while you live together. For example, you might be okay with sharing your food, but NOT ok sharing clothes. Or you might be a night owl, and your roommate isn’t so making sure you both feel comfortable setting a “lights out” time can prevent future conflicts. Don’t worry about awkward stuff like significant others visiting.
Your RA knows that this may be a concern and can help you two talk about it. Your RA is there to keep people safe, so if you ever have an emergency, they are a good person to contact. They are also there to make sure you’re having fun, and this is where programming comes in. A big part of an RA’s job is throwing get-togethers that can educate you about campus life, share opportunities about academics, or just help you get to know the people who live in the building. Look out for flyers and posts on social media that will advertise these events. There is usually free food, so you don’t want to miss them!
After you have settled into your dorm, gotten to know your roommate, and met your hallmates, it will be time to start class! If possible, it is a good idea to walk the route of your classes on campus that way you are familiar on day one. The first day of class (aka F-DOC) is an exciting time, especially when it is your very FIRST FDOC! You will quickly realize that tradition is a big part of student life, so be sure to learn more of the traditions at your school. For example, your college adviser went to Carolina and one of the most popular Tar Heel traditions is taking a sip of water from the Old Well on FDOC. Legend states that taking a sip from the Old Well on the first day of class will ensure us a 4.0 that semester. And boy did we all want that, so it was common to see a long line of students waiting to take a sip and a photo in front of the iconic Old Well. The first day of class can be a little hectic, but taking part in any traditions will allow you to feel a part of the campus community and get you excited for the road ahead.
You have so much to look forward to as these exciting days approach. You will make friends and memories that will last a lifetime, so make sure that you are enjoying yourself AND staying on top of your school work. As the old saying goes, “these are the best four years of your life” so make them count!