What to Bring:
The first thing I wish I knew was what to bring and not to bring. I know that sounds super basic and cliche, but it’s true. I most definitely over packed for both semesters of college, and I wish I hadn’t. My biggest takeaway with clothes would be to bring your favorite clothes for the first semester- aka YOUR essentials! For me, this means lots of comfy clothes, activewear, and a few sweaters! Depending on where you plan to go to college will impact the weather for your first semester. I can promise you, you won’t wear unworn shirts with the tags still on them. Leave those at home. Although I thought I limited my college closet, I still had a surplus of clothes. Don’t forget, you also have more than just your closet (if your roommates are into sharing and borrowing clothes). Also, if you go home for Thanksgiving or any other holiday weekends, you will have the opportunity to get more clothes or switch them out for other items. You don’t get a massive closet or massive closet space to begin with, so use your closet + drawer space wisely… so try not to overpack :)
It gets cold faster than you think, so all those cute summer outfits + tops will only be worn for a few weeks. So, limit your warm-weather outfits. Also, consider the fact that you’ll be doing your own laundry now too so the more clothes you bring → the more clothes you wear → the more clothes you wash → the more laundry you do. I know it seems straight forward, but now that you’re a freshman, you may not have the luxury of your own room, so space is limited. Make sure you bring a sturdy yet movable (or rollable) laundry basket. I used a pretty flimsy one and it would always tumble over- I also invested in a collapsable laundry bin when I needed to move clothes from the washer to the drier- it was a lifesaver (and it took up barely any space!)
Next, is probably my favorite topic- decorations. I printed out hundreds of pictures and bought so many fun signs and posters for my wall, but in reality, I actually ended up with less wall space than I could’ve ever imagined. Most college students hang some kind of string lights around the room, which makes the room A LOT more welcoming. I would highly recommend investing in a variety of command strips, especially the velcro-stick kind- these work on all different kinds of walls and textures, so you don’t have to worry about making a mess. Since I lived in a renovated mansion (I know, how cool!) the rooms all varied in sizes and shapes… along with quirks. I was lucky enough to have an old fireplace ledge next to my bedside. I found it super helpful to hang up my decorations up and out of the way, especially since my bed was semi-lofted.
I hung a lot of string lights, signs, and pictures within those string lights, and my biggest thing I learned is taking them all down is a pain, so, keep it simple. Find a color combo you like and that your roommate(s) can also work with, we chose pink, white, and gray, which tied in nicely with my bedspread and pillows. Overall, the goal was to create a warm and cohesive room! With that, if you are a picture junky like me, I would say it’s in your best interest to hang pictures with decorative/washing/painters tape that goes with the theme of your room- or colors you enjoy. Picture frames constantly fall down + are difficult to put up- trust me. I’m 4’11 and hanging things up high is not a fun workout. Plus, if you don’t like your design or the look of your wall, you can EASILY change it- tape is so simple and harmless (*make sure the tape is safe to work on walls)
Some other items that are a must for college include a charger with multiple outlets. This is super useful when you’re hanging with friends or if you want to charge many devices at once.
One item I found handy (along with my roommates) was a step stool. You never know what you’ll need to reach or fix or grab, so definitely a helpful item to reach tall shelves + areas.
Plus, you can use it getting into bed too if you need it (like me).
I also recommend bringing a compact medicine bin/ first aid kit with all essentials, a thermometer, band-aids, cough drops, Advil/Tylenol, etc. basically any other pills, medicine, or items you might need in a situation. It’s better to have an abundance of health-related items, you never know when you (or a friend) might need it. With this, make sure you bring your medical/health care card(s) and insurance card with you if you need to go to off-campus Urgent Care or the Health Center on Campus.
Super random, but bring one beach towel with you that you can sit on if you choose to do your homework by the ocean, walk on the beach, or watch the sunset. Plus, it’s also helpful if you get cold. You don’t really want to use a sandy shower towel…
Lastly, I would also bring extra batteries, a light lap desk which will allow you to work comfortably from your bed, a mini backpack or bag that you can carry around campus with smaller items when you don’t want to haul your school backpack everywhere, and slippers that you can wear around your room.
What I learned:
Wow, I kind of popped off for the items, but anyway, here comes the real stuff. Like I said before, my freshman year had a lot of ups and downs. I met so many wonderful people but I also met people I didn’t really vibe with… and that’s okay.
Although it might look like everyone has instantly found their best friend through social media, there are plenty of people who still haven’t met their people just quite yet. Personally, I met some of the best people and some of my best friends roughly halfway through the first semester. So if you don’t find those people instantly, it’s okay. Most of my peers agree that there are those friends you make during the start of the school year just to help you get adjusted and comfortable! I call these people the first-month-friends. The name is self-explanatory, as they serve a purpose to help us find our groove. But, if you are lucky enough to find people who really click with you, you’re definitely lucky :) Keep the good ones around. With that, don’t get discouraged if you are having a hard time finding friends! There were so many nights where I felt like I would never find people that would truly like me for me, but by doing things I enjoyed and branching out, I was able to connect with so many new faces. If you and another person don’t click, it’s totally natural. The great thing about college is that there are so many new friends that you haven’t met yet, so don’t feel stuck with people who don’t fit your vibe. I truly believe your vibe attracts your tribe, so the real friends will stick by you no matter what.
I also want to take a moment to tell you there is NO rush to getting into a new relationship. Yes, there will be so many new faces and some you might really want to be with, but you have to remember, everyone is adjusting. College is a completely new environment for everyone, so get to know yourself and all the things that come with it before you start seeing or dating someone.
I truly believe that the right person for you will come into your life at exactly the right moment, so no need to rush something you want to last, right? Plus, college is stressful as it is, so go get a grip on everything THEN find someone. You will know if your partner is the right one if they add positive experiences to your college life, not negative ones.
I started dating my boyfriend at the end of October, and I can confidently say our relationship could not have come at a more perfect time! I felt very comfortable with the college environment, getting involved, classes, and socializing. I could go off about our story/relationship but that’s for another day :)
This could potentially be a tough/scary topic to discuss, but I think it’s important to be real about it. There are many positives to having roommates, including constant company and entertainment, someone to talk with, someone to hug, someone to share food and clothes, etc., but, there are also things to be cautious of.
I think it’s really important to thoroughly discuss living aspects with your future/current roommate(s). I ended up living in a quad my first semester, and although it was fun, I would recommend trying to live in a double for your freshman year. There will be plenty of opportunities and social events for you to meet new people, but I honestly believe living with one other person is so much easier than living with multiple three. No hate to anyone who enjoys the quad or triple lifestyle, but for me, I found that communicating with one person about daily tasks and lifestyles worked really well. Sometimes, things can get quite busy and loud in a quad or even a triple, so I would also make sure to thoroughly discuss the small things like sleeping, cleaning, homework, and leisure habits.
Also, you don’t have to say yes to the first person who asks you to room with you, there will be plenty of options and people. Plus, going random isn’t really that scary. I ended up switching out of my quad and going random into a double for my spring semester and it was the best decision I made my entire freshman year. Plus, my new roommate and I got along super well so it was a blessing in disguise. If you don’t like the living situation you’re in, it’s never too late to switch. Talk to your Residence Director or Residence Life and they will help put you in a new and better environment.
Lastly, I wanted to shine some light on classes. As someone who struggled with anxiety with schoolwork in high school, I’ve worked extremely hard to balance my mental health and my academic success, so, heading into my first year of college, I wanted to balance both without overworking myself.
One thing that helped me stay on track was to use my time between my classes to get work done. Instead of getting in the habit of napping or doing nothing, I wanted to be proactive. Thus, I’d have less work to do get done later in the day!
I also found that the layout of classes, which is most likely every other day (either Tuesday + Thursday or Monday, Wednesday, Friday) works well to balance out what work I need to complete first. It helped me get into a routine and stick to it. I explored around my campus for the often-missed quiet spots where I could study or do homework without any distractions, which helped motivate me to get my work done.
By keeping a detailed agenda and a monthly calendar I was able to successfully spread out my long-term assignments and manage my social and sleep time too!
If you have any more questions or comments, feel free to contact me directly through my email ([email protected])
Thank you again for reading. Remember, don’t be shy, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and embrace the new!
Stay happy + healthy :)