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First Day of School

Andriana writes about her move-in day experience!

Andriana writes about her move-in day experience!

Hi everyone!

This week’s topic–the first day of college–might seem odd. I’m a sophomore! I’m over a year removed from this Sacred Day. Why write about it now? And, let’s be honest, do I even remember my first day of college?

Well, it is nearing the end of Winter Term. For any high school seniors or parents who might be reading this, you are nearing college decision time (if you haven’t gotten there already). After that, it’s only a short step away from move-in day, the famed event which will live rent-free in your minds for the next six(ish) months.

While I was super duper uper excited to start school, I had no idea what to expect from my first day of college. Yes, I read the detailed schedule. Yes, my parents and I had our own itinerary. But what was it really going to be like? With the disclaimers that 1.) everyone’s experience will be different and 2.) this is based on pre-COVID times, let’s get started.

What happens during move-in day?

We got to Carleton around 9:00 AM, and the first thing we did was park and unpack the car. Fear not–there are many students milling around, available to carry things or give directions. When we arrived at my palace-dorm, we met my roommate and her family, and also marveled a bit (I had a corner room in Fancy Cassat with, like, four window panels).

Andriana's Cassat Dorm
My beautiful dorm

We then spent most of the morning unpacking and running a couple of check-in errands. Quick note: there are lots of activities scheduled for move-in day. My parents and I didn’t do most of these–we were busy setting up the ol’ dorm, and didn’t really feel the need since we had already visited and toured campus.

Around noon, we went to the LDC to get lunch, and it was absolutely packed with students and parents. I ate with my family seeing as I didn’t actually know anyone yet. On that subject–don’t worry if you don’t have new besties to sit with by 12:00 on move-in day. You won’t turn into a pumpkin, you don’t have a magical expiration date. Go in knowing that it could take time to meet people and make friends.

In the afternoon, I went to the Bald Spot to meet my New Student Week (NSW) group. We did a couple of get-to-know-you activities, and, yes, there was a beach ball involved. We then headed to the Rec Center as a group to attend the Welcome Speech, which probably has some more official name that I’m forgetting. It was a nice introduction* to Carleton.

*One lucky birthday girl even got about 1,000 people singing “Happy Birthday” to her (so watch out if your birthday coincides with move-in day)!

After that came the famous Frisbee Toss, and then the dreaded goodbyes. Next, dinner on the Bald Spot with my NSW group. Back in the dorms that night, there was a floor meeting so that us freshmen could meet each other and our RAs. Then, bed. The end.

Andriana Frisbee Toss
Me before the Frisbee Toss

So what *really* happens?

About 500 words in, I will now tell you what move-in day is really like. Because what you read above is essentially the nice, neat, clean version. So. Without further ado:

Parking is a nightmare. Just be prepared for that in advance. Granted, we got there late, so maybe it’s better if you arrive early? I won’t promise though. We made about five trips between car and dorm. (My sincerest thanks to the Higher Being who ensured that Cassat has an elevator.)

During the unpacking process, we realized we forgot about a hundred million things–just an estimation, mind you. Out to Target went my father and uncle. Meanwhile, my dorm looked like a landfill, what with all of the boxes, packing material, and general debris. I guarantee you will experience at least one fall throughout the day.

Andriana's messy room
My move-in day mess (and this is just the desk!)

It took both my mom and me to make my bed, seeing as we decided to put the mattress on the highest rung. It was Us vs. Bed, and for a while there, Bed was winning. At one point, my mom was sprawled spread-eagle on the mattress, wrestling with the cover sheet, fitted sheet, top sheet (are these not the same thing?), and finally the actual comforter. Needless to say, I didn’t change my sheets until Parents Weekend.

The First Meal of college felt a little like a test. I still can’t say for sure that it wasn’t. If your parents are with you, expect glances of appraisal, questions of “are you sure you don’t want another veggie?” They will wonder, and so will you, if you are truly capable of feeding yourself. To calm your nerves, you will eat approximately fifty cookies.

The afternoon was an awkward blast. It was so fun to meet new people! But also stressful. I was plagued with thoughts of will they like me? Will I like them? There was no definitive answer. But there were shy smiles, nervous laughter, and the eventual realization that I was not the only one who had no idea what I was doing.

The Welcome Speech was a blur, and then came the Frisbee Toss. It’s a lovely tradition, but right after comes the goodbyes. And I really dreaded them. As ready as I was to start college, I was not ready to say goodbye to my parents. I felt so embarrassed, too, because I was surrounded by my new peers and the last thing I wanted to do was cry in front of them! But I couldn’t help it. (As far as I know, it hasn’t irreparably damaged my reputation.)

Dinner and meeting the floormates were nice bonding activities, but by the end of the day, I was exhaustedLike, unbelievably so. I didn’t have time to feel sad, or scared, or nervous. I didn’t have time to feel anything, in fact. My head hit the pillow, and then my first day of college was over.

Last thoughts…

Please do not expect your first day of college to be magical. It probably won’t be. And if it is, do share your secret. Know that likely no amount of preparation will make the day easier. It is messy–literally and figuratively.

But, corny though it may sound, it really is the first step to starting a new chapter. Think of it as a rite of passage, after which you are officially a college student. And that is exciting! And worthy of celebration! So as you approach your Special Day, be excited and celebrate. (And maybe proceed with just a smidge of caution.)

Andriana is a sophomore at Carleton, where she plans to major in English and double minor in Creative Writing and Cross-Cultural Studies. Although she will be spending this fall at home in Richmond, VA, Andriana is already excited to return to Carleton and escape the southern heat. When she isn’t busy avoiding Virginia’s never-ending summer, you can find Andriana binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. Meet the other bloggers!