Hello! It's been a while since I've done a College Journey post, but with school starting up very soon I thought I'd jump back into doing these. A quick recap for people who are new to the blog:
I go to a small liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere Illinois. I love my school, and wouldn't trade it for another college ever. I'll be the first to admit, though, that even your dream school can be hard work and stressful. So these posts are both a little diary of sorts (however, I do have a side blog now that will get the chunk of the diary portions) and a helpful guide for both first-years and returning students. If you ever have a question or need advice, don't hesitate to contact me! I'm not a pro but I've managed to survive the first year and learn quite a bit about surviving as a shy bookworm in a place where I'm expected to be outgoing all the time.
Here are my past College Journey posts:
Last year there wasn't a set schedule, per say, for these posts but this year I plan to do two college journey posts a month. I'm thinking that the last two Thursdays of each month will work out well for this, so keep an eye out.
Now, onto the actual intended content of this post: PACKING
Yes, it's very daunting to be packing up your things in order to move out of your house and into a college dorm. But, worry not, there are about a billion packing lists out there that will help guide you on your way to figuring out what to bring with you. The one from hercampus.com is my favorite because you can actually print it out and it's a really nice, easy to use list. But, like most lists, it's got way more stuff on it than you probably need. I've decided to more or less share my packing list and strategy. This is what I actually ended up using last year and what I plan to bring back this year.
I'll be following the categories put in place by HerCampus, by the way, but I won't be going into so much detail. If you do plan to use their list, I recommend printing it out and crossing off anything you don't need before you start using it as a checklist. It helps to prevent from getting lost.
First and foremost- bring a comforter and an extra, lighter, throw blanket that you can still sleep with even if it's a million degrees outside. I can't sleep without a blanket on, so having a light one has been a life saver. I was also able to use it when I did homework outside on the grass. You're also going to want a mattress pad and don't be afraid to invest in a nice one. It's the best thing that has ever happened to my sleeping! I'm not even kidding a little bit. The mattresses at school aren't awful, but they're not the best so it's a nice comfort there, but even at home over the summer I use it on top of my rather comfortable mattress. (Everyone at home is super jealous of my bed now, haha.) The number of pillows really depends on each person. I bring two, one a really puffy one that I sleep on and one a little flatter that I use under my knees (it helps with my back, actually). I also recommend getting one of these sitting pillows that has the little armrests on the sides and can be used to make sitting in bed more comfortable. I use mine all the time and sometimes fall asleep reading with it, it's comfortable enough. And don't forget pillow cases (I recommend at least two for each pillow but personally bring three per pillow just in case) and sheets (again, two or three should do it). An important reminder: you're bed at school with probably be an extra long twin, so prepare for that with the proper size sheets and mattress pad! If you want to get fancy with your bed, a few throw pillows can tie the room together. I don't have any (yet) but I'm currently on the hunt for cute, bookish ones.
Adhesive hooks are a must even if you don't quite know what you're going to do with them yet. I promise you will find a million reasons you need them, so get at least one pack of the sturdy ones. I also see the perks of a closet organizer, especially if you only get a small dresser. I didn't need one last year because of the way my room was set up (and I got double the dresser space) but this coming year I know I'm going to have to pick one up pretty early in the game. As for lamps it can't hurt to bring one, but until you see the set up of your room and figure out how much you're actually going to be using one (and whether you'll be able to fit any and if your desk has a built in light like many do) don't bother getting too many. Same with a full length mirror. I know you're going to want one because rarely do rooms come with them, but wait until you see where it would fit. Last year there wasn't really room for one in my room and it wouldn't even fit over the door. Hangers are super easy to overlook, but you need enough to hang at least half your clothes (if you have a dresser) and all your clothes if you don't. Don't skimp on these. I know you can get them pretty cheap from a bunch of places. Getting a safe is also a brilliant idea. I'm not saying you won't trust your roommate, but there are some things (like, maybe some extra cash or your birth certificate) that you don't want to take any chances with. I use a safe that's meant to be kept under the seat of a car (it's actually a mini gun safe I think, lol) and it's a pretty perfect size. I wish I knew where my dad had gotten it, because it's perfect. There's a chance your bed will be lofted, so you're going to want some sort of step ladder to get up if you're short like me. I use a little blue box that also serves as extra storage and I got it at Target. I'm pretty sure I saw them there again this year, and they're pretty durable. Last but not least, decorations. Go a little crazy because you want this to feel like your home since it is, at least for the rest of the semester. Wall hangings, pictures of family and friends, funko pop figures, whatever! Just bring a little of everything. And don't worry about setting it all up the first day, because you will have time in the coming days as school gets rolling in order to get comfortable.
This is a pretty short but important list: bring whatever you use at home to use at school. Not sure what you use? Ask whoever does the laundry. I use fabric softener, the occasional garment bag, laundry detergent, and a portable stain remover pretty regularly. I also recommend a lint brush because, yes, you will use that for more than lint I promise (I don't know how many times I used it on the most random things, honestly). And don't forget a hamper and if you can splurge get a bag as well. I had to travel three floors in order to get to the laundry and the bag saved my life. Most important, find out how you pay for laundry and bring a surplus of that. Chances are, you're going to need a butt-ton of quarters so stock up!
Food is a comfort for me, so I bring a little more than I probably need. My advice: if you drink soda or something else regularly and don't want to have to get up and leave your room every time you want some, bring enough of that drink to satisfy you for half the term. If you have the ready ability to go shopping (money, a car, whatever) then you probably don't need that much, but during the first weeks of your freshman term you want to make sure you have your comforts with you easily. The same goes for snacks and favorite meals. Bring enough to sustain you for quite some time. Obviously, you can't make elaborate meals, but I bring my favorite soup, pepperoni, and even macaroni that I can only buy near my house and it really helps on hard days to have these things. Also, make sure you have a steady supply of water. I have a filtered water bottle and that's enough for me because next year I actually have a water fountain practically outside my door. A lot of people I know recommend a filtered water pitcher.
Now, this really depends on where you're living. If you have a kitchen, bring a few basic things like some pots and pans and spoons and whatnot. I don't have the luxury of an easy to get to kitchen (though I do have access this year, which is great!) but I still bring some basic necessities: chip clips (I actually use pipe cleaners which we have in quite the abundance here and they work in such a neat hack, honestly), a dish towel (if you make a lot of food bring more; you want something to clean up with, after all), plates (I have four), bowls (again, four), cups (sensing a pattern yet? four), and a portable mug for whatever I might need. I can't recommend the mug enough. I also keep sponges and dish soap ready at all times because I hate when dishes pile up. Also, utensils can be easily overlooked, but beyond bringing the regular sorts (knives, forks, spoons) bring an extra sharp knife that can be used for cutting things like pizza (or cake). I had to get one last minute and I've used it so many times it's crazy. If you're school allows it, bring a fridge and a microwave, too. Make sure to talk with your roommate to see who brings what, though. I personally don't drink coffee but if you need a coffee maker then make sure you pack one away. Another important addition: paper towels.
Towels! Bring at least three (I bring four) and make sure they're the extra long type, especially if you share a shower with many people. You want to be able to wrap yourself in one securely. I also bring a robe because it is plushy but if you have long enough towels you should be okay. Though, for someone a little uncomfortable with their bodies (like myself) a robe is a must. And don't skimp on the shower caddy because it will save your life. If you can, keep it in your bathroom. If you can't, keep it by the door. Before I forget: bathroom/shower shoes. I have two pairs. And even then I got some rash on my foot which was really really itchy but otherwise fine. Honestly, a pair of flip flops will do the trick.
Anything you use on a regular basis at home. That's the general rule here. If you're not sure, just take not for a few days of everything you use when you go in there. And I'm counting things like hand soap and toilet paper. Yes, some school don't supply toilet paper. I'm lucky mine does. It might seem hard to forget, but not having your favorite toothpaste and a decent toothbrush will seriously mess with you. A tip I learned from my mom: dry shampoo is the way to go for early classes after late nights. A few other necessities I don't want you forgetting: hairbrush, glasses/contacts and related supplies, hair ties, nail clippers (my poor friend had to suffer without them for weeks! it's dreadful when you want to do something but can't), a razor, sunglasses, tampons/pads (if applicable, obviously), tissues (you will use! because you WILL get sick), and tweezers.
I'm really bad with clothing, so I don't know what you're going to want. But a rule of thumb: bring two weeks worth of outfits. Ideally, you can do laundry once a week, but if you're swamped you're going to want clean clothes that didn't take an hour and a half of your time to wash the day before. Also, make sure to prepare for whatever climates you'll be moving into.
I'm not sure what you use on a regular basis, but bring that. And bring the chargers for that and any batteries you will need. A laptop case won't hurt, either. And spare headphones/earbuds is something you won't want to go without, no matter how much you love the people you're living with.
A backpack or similar bag, letter writing paper (which is a splurge but I love handwritten notes on nice stationary, sue me), envelopes, an eraser, folders (I actually have a folder with six pockets and that's my favorite thing in the world), highlighters (my bae!), notebooks, pencils, pens, pencil case, sharpie(s), a planner (or two if you're crazy like me), post-it-notes, a ruler, scissors (a must!), stamps, a stapler, tape, and white out. Obviously you'll want your textbooks, too, but whether you wait until you see the syllabus or get them in advance to do some early reading is up to you. I wouldn't worry too much if you forget any of this stuff because your school store will surely have it. But it's nice to be prepared during the middle of the year when midterms start keeping you up late, so be prepared before then. It depends on how the school works, and how much is costs, but a printer is not a bad investment. Or at least make friends with someone who has a printer and chip in on the ink (which is expensive!).
Anything you use on a daily basis and anything you need to be comfortable at the drop of a pin. I mean, obviously be safe about it, but make sure you have not just medicine but a basic first aid kit and cold packs. Also, because it is college and you're an adult, condoms. Chances are, though, your school will proved some for free (it's humorous how many places one could get free condoms at my school- like, literally any study room you walk into has a box of them). A small word on sex: if you're going to do it be safe. That is all.
Well, this is actually the fun part imo. Bring any art supplies you need. For me, a writer, that's a journal or two and colorful pens. I also bring a sketchpad and my watercolors because that is the best way to relax when I'm super stressed out. On the same note I bring my small collection of coloring books. Like, there are only two, but it's practically a collection, right? LOL I just realized I had three but one's a joke so still, two. Also, I'm obviously a book nerd (what gave it away?) so I bring books. And I've finally cracked the code on how many to bring! Observe: figure out about how many books you read a month. For me, that's around five. Then figure out how many months you'll be at school before you can get home and switch some books out. For me that's nearly three months. Now multiply: fifteen. I plan to bring about fifteen books with me. That's a fluid number, and not counting any preorders that will arrive at my school while I'm there, but it's a pretty solid number (at least for me). You don't want to bring to many books. I've been there done that and while it's nice, you won't get the chance to read them all and then you'll have to bring them home and they are heavy, dammit! A must have is games. I bring Settlers of Catan, three different packs of cards, and this year I'm also throwing in Exploding Kittens. These are games I love to play and they're fun for a bunch of people. Bring things you can play on your own and things you can play with others to help break the ice. Truth be told: it was over a game of cards that I found some of my best friends. Any religious materials you need should be brought as well. Religion is such a source of comfort for many people. Normally, I bring my bible (btw I'm Catholic, a liberal Catholic but still a Catholic), my rosary, and a statue of Mary that was carved from wood from the Holy Land. It's just a small collection of things but when I'm in a bad way they're nice to have by my side. A sleep mask is also a must for me. Even if it's not bright in the room you're sleeping in, it sometimes helps remind my eyes that they should stay closed because I'm falling asleep. And don't forget an umbrella. It will rain at least once and you don't want to get caught in the rain with an open backpack and no cover (my poor TA...). Also, an extra bag or two so you can travel and visit home for a weekend and have a way to get things back and forth.
So, yeah, that's it! That's what I would recommend. Didn't see something on the list you can't live without? Well, then bring it anyways. As much as packing lists are nice, they are only a guide and shouldn't be taken as the be-all for college. I do hope this helped quite a bit!
And best of luck with moving into college!