by Anastasia Checchio

Whether you’re traveling a few minutes or a few hundred miles away from home, the countdown to college is overwhelming. Fortunately, the wait is almost over and fall semester is just around the corner! The beginning of the semester is exciting for all students, especially incoming freshmen. I remember feeling a mix of emotions in anticipation of move-in day, none of which compared to the overwhelming excitement that I felt once I finally moved in.

There is so much to do in the summer before you move away to college, it’s easy to let an essential item or two slip through the cracks. Lucky for you, I’m here to help!  As a rising senior, I’ve been around the block a few times (sometimes barefoot, but we’ll get to that). I’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks along the way and it just so happens I’d like to share a few.

So, Class of 2019, here is my list of the top eight must-brings for the start of the 2015-16 school year.

RAIN GEAR

So, I suffered an embarrassing incident during my first month at Temple, thanks to Philadelphia’s unpredictable precipitation patterns. It was early and I woke up late, threw on sweats in a flustered frenzy and dashed down the stairs of 1940 into an epic torrential downpour. As I was finally about to make it to my class, a police officer on 12th street stopped the oncoming herd of students to allow cars to pass. As I waited in the rain, my flip-flop got caught in the stream gushing down 12th street and floated away. After I caught my flip-flop, I trudged to what was left of lecture and sat there in my sopping clothes, thinking about the embarrassment that could have been avoided had I:

Stopped hitting the snooze button on my alarm

Listened to my mother when she graciously offered to buy me rain boots

I cannot stress enough the importance of rain gear in college. Consider bringing multiple umbrellas, for you will go through many during your time at Temple due to the merciless wind tunnels on campus. Classes do not stop due to the rain, so be prepared!

MATTRESS PAD

Unfortunately, mattresses in the residence halls aren’t the most comfortable (read: it’s kind of like the princess and the pea). Of course, nobody truly realizes this until their first night here. Or the next morning, when your body hurts in places you didn’t know existed.

Your dorm room should be a haven — a relaxing space to seek refuge at the end of a long day. Back in high school, I created my perfect space at home over the years and I was determined to recreate it in my new residence at Temple. I came prepared on move-in day with all of the essentials, but most importantly I came with two mattress toppers. Out of all of the furnishings for my dorm, nothing topped those toppers. My new haven would not have been complete without an incredible bed to come home to after classes.

It’s a great investment (I promise).

FIRST AID KIT

I have to admit something: Parents are right sometimes. Especially when they urge you to bring a first aid kit. Listen to your mom when she tries to pack one for you. She is right. You are wrong. They’re necessary.  At college, your parents are no longer around to take care of your bumps and bruises; it’s all on you.  It’s inevitable that at some point you’ll get hurt or sick, so be prepared!

Typically, these kits are equipped with everything to treat minor injuries and ailments. If any further attention is required you can always stop by the Student Health Center on the 4th floor of 1810 Liacouras Walk. I am thankful that I had one of these; I’ve seen my fair share of tumbles and illnesses. You’ll be just as thankful once you’re in need of Band-Aids and/or Advil after a long weekend (trust me).

Thanks, mom.

HDMI CORD

When I came to college I had no idea what an HDMI cord was, but now I can’t live without one. These nifty cords can be used to transmit what’s on your computer to your TV screen! It is, in a word, brilliant.

This cord comes in handy when you’d like to watch movies or shows on your TV instead of having all of your friends crowd around your laptop. If you have Netflix, this is an absolute must-have! My friends and I still have viewing parties to watch movies together and catch up on our shows.

BACKUP HEADPHONES

Trust me: There is no such thing as too many pairs of headphones. I never realized how much I used them until I came to college and lost my first pair. It’s like when you lose a sock in the laundry — if the sock played music and helped you find privacy in crowded spaces.

Misplacing a pair of headphones always starts same: You came home from class, leave them on your desk, start your homework (read: watch Netflix), and just as you’re about to leave… your headphones are gone.

You tear apart your dorm room; find that sock you’ve been missing for months (score), but no headphones. You text all of your friends and enter all five stages of grief.  As you brutally interrogate your roommate about her most recent whereabouts, you think to yourself “how could I have possibly misplaced my headphones?”

You’ll find that losing your possessions is extremely easy in college, but finding them is extremely difficult.  Save yourself the headache and pack an extra pair.

WATER BOTTLE

I really never used a water bottle prior to college, but I’ve come to realize that they are an absolute must-have for students. They cut down on the sale of plastic bottles, and they save you money.

Carrying a water bottle is eco-friendly and furthers Temple’s commitment to sustainability. Our university shows its appreciation for those who use water bottles by providing more than 100 filling stations throughout campus. This is especially convenient, because these stations make it easy to fill up before class. Water bottles are a convenient and sustainable way to stay hydrated throughout busy days on campus.

If you, for some reason, forget to bring a water bottle to school, feel free to visit Erin McHugh, the College of Liberal Arts’ Director of Enrollment Management. Her office is on the 12th floor of Anderson Hall.

She’ll hook you up.

AGENDA

This time in your life is all about self-exploration: pursuing your passions and finding your place in the world. With college comes a new level of independence and responsibility, both of which should not be taken lightly. College is your time to branch out, but make sure that you do it realistically.

You need a plan.

An agenda is the perfect way to organize yourself so that you can efficiently complete everything you seek to accomplish. You will soon realize that college is all about balance, and an agenda will help you plan sensibly so that you aren’t over-exerting yourself or setting unrealistic expectations.

I’ve found that my agenda has changed. What I wanted on move-in day isn’t necessarily what I want now. As an incoming freshman I was a psychology major, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would switch to neuroscience. I remember meeting a neuroscience student at orientation before I even moved in and thinking, “Wow neuroscience. That’s something I could never do.” Here I am, a senior neuroscience major with an undeniable passion for the subject matter. My agenda has changed over time, thanks to the support that I’ve found it my advisors, teachers, and peers here at Temple University.

AN OPEN MIND

To close this article, I’ve chosen what I believe to be the most important “must have” for any college freshman: an open mind.

Being open-minded means immersing yourself in new experiences, which is what I believe college is all about. Everybody’s college careers will differ, but as incoming freshmen you are all unified by the shared experience of a new beginning.

College provides you with a clean slate and a chance to reinvent yourself; it’s just up to you to execute. Being open-minded is the most important advice I can share, because it has the power to open doors that you never knew existed.

If there was one thing that I did right as a freshman, it was put all biases aside and start my college career with an open mind. I am thankful every day for the incredible friendships that I have formed and as I look back on my years at Temple, I wouldn’t change a thing. My friends and I always say that we are so lucky to have found each other. We are truly fortunate, but I sometimes wonder if we would have found each other without being open-minded. I am unsure of how I would have found a group so different, yet so alike, without this mindset. My friends are eclectic and certainly quirky; each of us adds a different facet to our dynamic bond. Each of us posseses our own unique strengths and weaknesses, and we tackle college’s ups and downs together. I am so lucky to have such a strong support, and I owe it all to freshman me.

The beginning of college evokes different emotions for all of us. Regardless of how you’re feeling about the beginning of this new journey, it’s your time, Class of 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited to have you.

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