Well, here you are at Colonial Inauguration. You’re meeting and greeting fellow freshmen, registering for classes and getting a taste of what life will be like in a residence hall. By now you should have come to at least one important conclusion: residence halls are small. GW has packed all of you in so tightly that you barely have room to breathe, let alone room to bring all of the belongings you’ve been accumulating for the past 18 years.
There are certain things that you will and will not need your freshman year. Obviously the basics- bedding, clothes, a computer – but what about things you don’t know you need? Well, read on young ones and you will be just fine.
Things you never thought to bring that you’ll need
Tools: This doesn’t seem like something to bring to college, but don’t question it. My uncle gave me a small set of tools before I came here and simply said, ‘Trust me, they will get a lot of use.’ And did they ever. We broke out the hammer and nails the first week of school and put up Christmas lights all around the room. (Sure we had nail holes in the room, but the lights never fell down.) It is also nice to be able to put together a bookshelf, broken radio or whatever else requires at least a screwdriver.
Kitchen supplies (even if you don’t have a kitchen): There are certain kitchen accessories that are nice to have around and don’t take up a lot of space. A can opener comes in handy on a cold winter day when all you want to do is heat up a bowl of soup in the microwave and wrap up in your covers. A corkscrew is nice because sometimes cheap wine is all that you can afford. Finally, get yourself a blender. Sure, it seems a bit frivolous, but they can be stashed away in a corner and you’ll thank me later when Tuesday becomes your official margarita night.
Extra bathroom supplies: OK, here’s the deal. Every time you are at the grocery store with your parents, say that you are out of toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc. – by the end of the summer you will be completely prepared for that morning when you realize that your roommate used the last of your conditioner. Sure, you could buy toiletries here, but why not stock up on mom and dad’s dollar while you still can?
One or two formal/dressy outfits: You never know when you are going to need to look nice, whether it is for a fraternity or sorority formal, job interview or a really swanky date. This may not seem like a necessity, but at least you won’t have to go out and spend a load of cash at the last minute when you decide that you really do want to go to that formal dance.
Posters, decorations: I only say this because they are probably cheaper at home. Also, it is nice to get to your room and personalize your space right away, rather than having to trek down to the poster store in Georgetown and compete for the same old images of Bob Marley smoking a joint that everyone else will have in their room. Take the rest of the summer to find unique items to spice up your drab walls.
Things that you want to bring but really don’t need
Every last high school memory: While it is tempting to bring along every yearbook, picture frame, etc. with you to school, there is one sad truth – these items are going sit in your closet taking up space collecting dust. If you want memories of your good old high school days, bring photos – you can hang them up on your walls and actually enjoy them. Besides, think of all the new memories you are going to make here at GW.
Extra furniture: You do NOT need an inflatable couch, butterfly chair or a futon in your room. These things take up so much space, thus detracting from the tiny amount of personal space that you have claimed for yourself. If you really need extra seating for any reason, then just buy oversized pillows to sit on. Inflatable furniture isn’t really that comfortable anyway.
Toaster ovens, George Forman grills: Unless you have a kitchen, you really have no need for these. In fact, you and your roommates would probably end up fighting over who has clean up the mess after making a round of grilled cheese sandwiches on the George. And cleaning dishes in the bathroom sink is no fun. If you want a sandwich that much, go get a grilled cheese from the dining halls that are located in the Thurston Hall basement and HOVA dining room.
Every single book you own: OK, for the nerds like myself out there, while it is tempting, bringing every book you own takes up a whole lot of space and you won’t have time to read or reread any of them. Trust me, I made this mistake thinking that, as an English major, I needed to have every book I own just in case. Well, the ‘just in case’ never really happened and now I have three boxes of books collecting dust in my closet. Leave them at home and catch up on reading over winter break.
While this may not be everything that you have to look out for, it is a pretty good start. Just remember to use a little common sense and realize that you will have to graciously share your space with one, two, three or maybe even five roommates. Now go home for the summer and enjoy your privacy while you still have it.