Most students would agree that going away to college is one of the most exciting things to happen to them so far. Okay, maybe it isn’t going to college that is exciting, rather getting out from under your parents noses.
As August approaches and you are beginning to pack up your room of childhood memories, remember this — you do not need to bring every little thing that holds a memory; there is not enough space in your dorm room, tiny apartment or, if you’re lucky, low-rent house. Also consider the fact that you will most likely be living with at least one roommate, and if you both empty out your rooms at home, there won’t be any space to move, eat, sleep or study.
Here is a go-to packing guide that will prevent you from hauling things back to Mom’s house every weekend and help keep the sense of newfound freedom to do-what-you-want-with your-own-space from taking over.
Sheets are a must. You really don’t want to be sleeping directly on the mattress supplied by the University. Invest in some quality cotton sheets — they are light and breathable in the hot summer months and will keep you cozy once it gets cold. You don’t want cheap sheets that will tear halfway through the semester.
It is also probably a good idea to bring some pillows, unless you are one of those weirdos who doesn’t use a pillow, in which case, you are just inviting future neck problems.
In addition to a warm duvet or comforter, you should bring a blanket or two, even if you don’t think you’ll need one (trust me, you will be glad to have one to curl up with if you are sick, cold or when your roommate insists on keeping the thermostat at an icy 50 degrees).
It is probably a good idea to leave the blanket your grandma knit for you when you were a baby at home, unless you do not mind crumbs, drinks and other messes spilling all over it.
When you move into your dorm, apartment or house in August, it is going to be hot.
And I do not mean the “oh man, is it warm out today” kind of hot, I mean the I’m-dripping-in-sweat-please-rush-me-to-the-nearest-air-conditioner kind of hot. Leave that big winter coat at home for a while. All of those wool sweaters and long underwear should probably stay at home too; they can keep your coat company.
Pack clothes you wear regularly — your favorite jeans, the shirt you wear two (sometimes three) days in a week hoping it doesn’t smell and the majority of your socks and underwear.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in your house or apartment, that doesn’t mean you will actually do your laundry in any sort of timely fashion, and while you can slide by wearing the same jeans a few days in a row, doing the same for underwear could lead to a health issue...
Bring some things you are comfortable sleeping in. Chances are you will end up wearing those clothes more than anything else, because between studying, partying and the whole being adult thing, appearances take a backseat. And if you are in the dorms you will need something to walk to the bathroom in during the middle of the night.
Don’t bring with you every pair of shoes you have in your closet at home. You won’t wear them all. Trust me. Bring your good sneakers, shoes you are comfortable walking around campus in, a pair of flip flops and limit the excess to two or three other pairs.
Bring a swimsuit, just in case, but really try and limit what you bring clothes-wise to things you know you will wear. Don’t bring the T-shirt that has been in the back of your closet for three years or the little black dress you swear you’re going to wear as soon as the occasion arises.
This is the most fun part, in my opinion, and after clothing the easiest category to become overwhelming.
String lights are a great way to add some personality to your room, but most of them use batteries. So if you go the twinkle-light route, keep the environment in mind and invest in some rechargeable batteries and a charger.
Don’t tear down all the posters from your room at home just yet — bring a few of your favorites and give those prime placement in your room first. You will be surprised how quickly wall space will fill up and make your room feel cramped.
Tapestries are great, and can turn a white wall into a mural with little effort, but keep in mind they can be very busy and will leave less room for other decor.
To hang little memos, notes, and flyers in your room, invest in a small cork board or magnetic dry erase board. This will add some style to your room and help you stay organized. You can even find magnetic whiteboard calendars and kill three birds with one stone.
To hang all your rad decor, bring lots of small thumb tacks, double-sided tape and clothespins. Small tacks don’t leave large holes in the wall like nails do, double-sided tape is great for hanging posters and you can use clothespins to hang pictures from your string lights.
Things you probably won’t think of
If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your immediate living space, bring detergent pods instead of liquid. You can simply throw a couple in your basket when you go to the dormitory laundry room or down the street to the laundromat, and you will never have too little or too much soap.
Bring earplugs. Just listen to me here. Even if you have never used them before and insist you are the deepest sleeper there is, bring them. You never know when your neighbors will throw a rager the night before your first exam.
Things you should definitely leave at home
Moving away is hard, and it can take a while to adjust to a new space. Bring that one thing that comforts you. Even though you probably don’t want to whip out your 18-year-old teddy bear on the first night, you will be comforted just knowing you can.
Don’t bring the guitar you got for your birthday three years ago and have picked up only five times. Yeah, it would look cool sitting in your room, but you aren’t going to play it, and you will be embarrassed when people ask you to play and you can’t.
If you are a book nerd like myself, you will learn the hard way that all of your books won’t fit in your new college-sized space. If you like to re-read books, bring two old ones and no more. You can always buy books, that is guaranteed, but leave the 10-year-old copy of The Velveteen Rabbit safely at home.
When packing, remember the U.S. Mail Service does exist, and you can always add to your room — and you probably will throughout the year — so obey the golden rule for college packing: if you haven’t used it in the last year, leave it with Mom and Dad.
Celia Raney is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Celia_Raney.