I feel like I start every post on this blog with “college is weird”, so I’m not going to say that. But move-in day might be kind of bewildering, considering college’s overall… Confusion. After your parents leave and you’re suddenly on your own in a brand new place, it’s easy to get freaked out. I know I almost lost my nerve those first few hours alone, aimless and unsure. I wished there was a list or a rulebook, something that would tell me what to do with myself, because I had no idea what was going on. I got invited to a frat party and a prayer circle, neither of which I attended, and ended up wandering campus and getting lost with my roommate (at the time) and Morgan. It wasn’t a bad first day, but I could have used my time just a little better, and there’s some things I wish I’d known then, that I definitely know now. So I’m giving you what I didn’t have then – the move-in checklist of things to get done before you attend your frat party, prayer circle, or random wanderings.
Meet Your Neighbors
This is first on the list because I have personal experience with the awkward “I have no idea what your name is but you live next door and it’s too late to ask” nod and I love you too much to let that happen to you. You don’t need to be the overly-chirpy person meeting everyone on your floor and, let’s be honest, you’re not going to remember that many names. But introduce yourself to the neighbors on either side and directly across the hall, smile and say hello anytime you see them, and maybe they’ll think twice about vacuuming at four in the morning (another thing I have experience with).
Unpack Your Essentials
Ideally, everything will get unpacked on the first day. Also, ideally, it will stay in its nice, organized place for the rest of the year. But this is not an ideal world, so if you must, prioritize unpacking the essentials. This means your hygiene products for nightly and morning routines, bedding, and clothes to sleep in and wear the next day. Sit down and list the things you do (and what you need to do them) in the next twenty-four hours and unpack those first. Everything else is details.
Learn Your Public Transport
Fun story: The first time I got on a bus alone, I got on the 22 South instead of the 22 North and ended up sitting in a parking lot on the edge of town in an empty bus for about five minutes before the driver realized I was there, told me I had to get off, and then realized I was a lost scared freshman and put me on a bus back to campus. You won’t learn your whole public transit system in a day, but figure out what main routes will get you to the places you need to go and memorize them. You’ll be a superhero to others in your building, and avoid terrifying treks to the city limits.
Lay Down Ground Rules
I’m not going to make jokes about this one because it’s difficult. When you live with someone, you don’t want to make waves, you want to be accommodating, you want to be liked. But on the first day, sit down with your roomie(s) and have a good talk about what is and isn’t okay. Specify what you’re alright with sharing, how you want to handle guests (including overnight ones), when you intend to go to bed and wake up, and other important habits – if you hate the sound of nail clippers or can’t sleep with the lights on, speak up now. Listen to roomie, too, and try to be accommodating of their needs. Write down your ground rules. And then (this is the hard part), enforce them, even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
Make Plans with One Person (and Follow Through!)
Since I started attending U of I, approximately one million people have said “We should get dinner sometime!” to me, and I have gone to dinner with about six of them. With everyone’s schedule being so different and communication being so hard, actually making plans in college is a pain. It’s also hard because you don’t want to be shot down or dismissed, but be bold and take that first step. Instead of squealing “We should get dinner sometime!” and then walking away, never to see that person again, try “We should get dinner tonight! Do you want to meet in the dining hall at six?” If they agree, follow through (and maybe invite a few more people, to pull a group together). If they say no, say “Some other time, then.” After that, feel free to never see them again, though.
Now, I might be biased, but I don’t think any of these tasks are too unreasonable, so I’m going to hold you accountable! Write them down and check them off for yourself if you have to, but if you’re reading this and you’re headed to your first day, I hope you at least consider getting these five things done. If you do, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear how things worked out. And as always, whether you’re partying, praying, or wandering, please use the buddy system and be careful in new situations. Alright, alright, I’m done being your mom now.
To stay on task, check out my first week checklist, as well, and stay tuned for checklists for your first month, and important milestones like midterms and finals week. Want updates when they’re posted? Enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box on my sidebar to get notified of new posts from Living Between the Lines!