Move in day is one of the most educational days of your college career. You hone crucial spatial intelligence by tetris-ing the furniture into a reasonable layout, snaking cords around your room so all your electronics can plug into your surge protector, not to mention finding a nook for every one of your earthly possessions. On top of that, you’ll develop social intelligence as you navigate between the edgy, tearful parents and the other fresh-faced and frantic residents trying to pull their massive suitcases past your own.
You’ll also learn plenty about yourself: How well you handle stress, how much you can lift, and how much you’re actually going to miss your parents. Move-in has plenty of potential to be the a stress-fest, but if you remember five simple things, it could just as easily be smooth sailing.
1) Ask questions
Lots of things can go wrong when dozens of people attempt to relocate into a single space. From misplaced keys, to wrong room assignments, to malfunctioning appliances, practically every turn can look like impending disaster to the uninformed. Fortunately, there are people around to help. Move-in is staffed by Resident Assistants who’ve been trained by Student Affairs, and have the answers to any question you might have. Where’s the bathroom? They’ll know. Is there an elevator? They’ll let you down gently when there isn’t. How do I get my light bulb fixed? They’ll show you where to submit a maintenance report. If you’re a Douglass Woman, you’ll have the additional resource of your Peer Academic Leaders.
Don’t wallow in confusion—it wastes valuable time for everyone involved.
2) Lift with your knees, not with your back.
We’re a largely sedentary culture, here in America; so many of us may not be physically prepared for shifting all our earthly possessions from one place to another. If you are, props to you, but remember that you will also have the assistance of Move-In Crew and their lovely red moving bins.
Seriously, keep yourself safe. Be aware that items in your car may have shifted. If you packed anything made of glass, be cautious in case it broke. And definitely lift with your knees, not your back. The last thing anyone wants is to start the year off with a twinging spine.
3) Bring water.
Many of the dorms are not air conditioned, and move-in occurs during one of the hottest times of the year. Especially with the physical exertion of moving heavy boxes, you will get sweaty. It’s also a good idea to move wearing clothes you don’t mind sweating in, but don’t forget to take care of your basic needs: Hydration. Possibly the only thing worse than injuring yourself moving in would be passing out from dehydration.
4) Leave your perfectionism at home.
You’ll be surprised at how long the move-in process takes, and how hectic the day is. There will not necessarily be time to primp your set-up like a Pinterest posting, not to mention that your furnishings, room layout, and amenities may not be what you expected. None of these are factors under your control. Rather than stressing about minor details that have thrown off your grand plan, focus on adapting and meeting practical goals. What moving containers do you have to empty and send home? How can you make all the outlets accessible? Think about where you’re going to store your heavy blanket while it’s too hot to use it, not whether it matches your roommate’s color scheme.
5) Keep breathing.
Especially for first years, move-in is a very stressful day; you’re diving head first into a strange new world, full of new people, in a new place, leaving behind everything you ever knew. Or at least, that’s what it can feel like. Add onto that a 90-degree day, smashed light bulbs, and no elevator, and it’s easy to imagine someone losing their cool.
Just keep breathing. Nothing that happens on move-in day will trigger the end of the world. If you wind up hating your layout, you can always change it later: just breathe. If you’re sweating bullets, remember that the student centers and libraries are all air conditioned and equipped with water fountains, so you have cool-down options: just breathe.
And if you’re hefting a trunk up three flights of stairs, remember that you only have to move in once. And definitely keep breathing.