“Oh… Anchor Down!” Enthusiastic cheers erupted from a mass of Vanderbilt students. However, we weren’t at a football game or pep rally. Instead, it was 7 AM on the morning of move-in day for Vanderbilt’s newest group of students, the Class of 2020.
As cars started rolling in, upperclassmen waved eagerly to the cautious yet animated faces of the first years stowed away in over-packed cars. Some of the first years willingly high-fived the move crew, while others hid behind their closed windows in embarrassment, but all were experiencing the first of many memorable days at their new university.
The first years see only one side of move-in day: the cheering, the smiling faces, the efficient unloading of belongings. But what is move-in day really like, from the other side?
Honestly, it’s not that different.
Just like the first years, many of the move crew participants started the day hesitantly. We woke up before 6 am, shrugged into the blindingly bright pink shirts, and trudged the 15 to 20-minute walk to Commons. We began to wonder why we were doing this—for the opportunity to move in early, to give back to the great experience we’d had freshman year, or because all of our friends were doing it? None of those reasons seemed quite worth it anymore. The promise of breakfast was likely the only thing drawing some exhausted students out of bed.
We were loaded with coffee and chicken biscuit sandwiches, then sent on our way to our designated house. We mingled awkwardly, unsure what to expect, while freshmen lined up in their cars a mile or two away, also wary of the day. Yet, all hesitation fled as a leader of the move crew called us together. He gave a few short instructions, but quickly began to lead a cheer.
We all begrudgingly responded, “Hank’s House,” a response cemented into our brains early freshman year. But he didn’t stop there. He repeated the cheer until we were all screaming at the top of our lungs, “HANK’S HOUSE!” Smiles inevitable on every upperclassman’s face, we were ready to go.
As the first car drove in, we began cheering, partially at the excitement of the first car, partially just because everyone else was. While the first set of unloading was a bit awkward, we quickly got into the routine of pulling out boxes and TVs and even stuffed animals, then quickly transporting them to the rooms. The faces of parents when we told them they didn’t need to carry a thing were unforgettable.
By the end of the day, spirits had dwindled. Some participants had abandoned the efforts, and the ones who remained were drained and sore. Still, we pushed on to finish the job, just as the first years in their rooms struggled to finish unpacking their room, despite their own diminishing energy. Unfortunately, that’s where much of the comparison ends. The first years spent the rest of the day and the days to come surrounded by excitement, new people to meet, and hope for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the move crew returned to our dorms for a nice, long nap.