The #1 Freshman Mistake?

As most of you know, I am a dreadful overpacker. I once brought two bags for an overnight trip. And while I am working on rectifying this fact about myself, there are some areas in life where I believe it is acceptable, even preferable, to “overpack.”
For the past several weeks I have been getting ready to move in to a college dorm room 25 hours away from my home, for the first time in my life. I have also spent a lot of time on the internet searching and reading anything and everything on being a freshman in college. I am amazed at the amount of blogs that say something to the effect of “freshman shouldn’t overpack” or “dorms are small, pack light,” and my least favorite “the number one freshman mistake is to overpack, you really don’t need that much stuff.” I might be biased, as a college freshman, but I could not disagree more, and for several reasons.
First, I, and most other college freshman, are leaving the house they have been living in for some time. My room is set up the way I want it, I have everything I need, and I need (or at least use) everything I have. If I don’t have something I need, my mom probably has one I can use. That isn’t the case in a dorm, at least not until you have several friends you are comfortable enough with to borrow their dress slip because you forgot yours. I honestly don’t know exactly everything I’m going to need for the next 3 months. Most people would make the argument of “well if you end up needing it there’s a walmart in the town you’re moving to.” But if I have a dress slip at my home in New York, why would I want to pay for one at the walmart in Texas? I’m a college freshman, remember? I’m broke.
Second, I will be living in a dorm, with a person I have never met, 25 hours away from my immediate family, for the next 2 1/2 months. After that, my parents are moving 5 hours away from my school, just in time for Thanksgiving break. This means that after I leave my house in New York (which was yesterday) I will never be back. And when I go “home” for Thanksgiving, I will be in a house I’ve never seen before, surrounded by boxes. I realize my situation is definitely not the norm, but the principle is the same. When you move out of one house into another, however temporary, it helps to make it feel a little more like a “home.” Different people do this different ways, but I do this with things. This move into my dorm will be my seventh move. That is eight different “homes.” Through each move the friends have changed, the houses have changed, and the climates have changed, but my room has essentially stayed the same. I’d like to take what little pieces of that with me to my dorm.
And lastly, I will be 1600 miles away from my family. The only other thing that has stayed constant through the moves is my family. I am incredibly close to my family. I have never lived away from them for more than a month. If I was moving to another house with my family and without my stuff, I would still have a feeling of “home.” But after they move me into my dorm, they’re driving the 25 hours back to New York, and I’m staying in Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I want very much so to stay in Texas. I am looking forward to many very exciting adventures at school. I know I am going to make lots of friends and create a “home away from home” within the first year I’m at school, but until that happens, I’d like to be able to go back to my cozy room and feel comforted. I would like to have all the pieces for the outfit that I think of on my way back from my first class. I would like to have my favorite blanket to cuddle up in when I’m overwhelmed with homework in the third week of school. It’s these little things that will make me feel more at home, and I think a little bit of crowding on my half of the dorm room will be worth that feeling.
Bottom line, everyone is different. A “home” feeling is more important to some people than others, and stuff is more important to some people that others. Because of this, I don’t thing it’s fair to tell people they shouldn’t bring the things that make them feel comfortable, especially when they’re in a brand new place, with brand new people, and brand new experiences. I don’t think I’m materialistic because not everything I’m bringing to school fits in my car. And I don’t think that “overpacking” is the number one freshman mistake.


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