(What does featured image mean? Go to the Hopkins Interactive page and you’ll see what I mean. No, go ahead. I’ll wait.
Worth it, right? I’m ridiculous and have too much free time on my hands.)
Less than two months until you guys arrive on campus!
I’m starting to see more and more packing-for-college-anxiety on the Johns Hopkins Class of ’17 page, asking about how to take care of bedding and other miscellaneous items. I was planning on answering all of these questions on the page itself in comments, but after getting approximately 77857649063 of these questions, I figured it would be a good idea to write up a post (like I did for the people who were anxious about going to SOHOP) about what to pack for Baltimore weather, and really, just college in general.
The idea for this post came from a question asked by one of your fellow classmates (Deborah C. to be exact) whose question started:
JHU_Grace responded, as a true east-coaster would, by telling her that there was absolutely no need for cold weather clothes in October:
i’m from southern new jersey, so i’m pretty used to the climate on the east coast, but one of the biggest mistakes i made was bringing and buying too many winter clothes too early. what a lot of people do (and what i’ve found works best) is bring mostly summer and early fall clothes when they get to campus and then swap out those clothes with warmer, more winter-appropriate options when they go home for thanksgiving break.
…just bring maybe one heavy-duty jacket for any unexpected weather.
And while I always respect a fellow SAABabe’s advice, I proceeded to dismantle what Grace said about packing. Not because I’m jealous of her ability to handle cold so well or anything (although… you know what we’re not going to discuss that right now) I promise!
All I know is that if I hadn’t brought my peacoat and fluffy fleece jacket, the “mild autumn” weather (as the east coasters describe it) would have killed this poor west coast kid.
I know how hard it is to try to figure out what you’re going to need- I was there a year ago, and I’m still there now. (I recently had an argument with myself about how much use I was going to get out of a french press coffeemaker.)
Here are a couple of important things to keep in mind as you pack for college.
NOTE: This is called “A Californian’s Guide” for a reason. Maybe someone will write the “An East Coast Kid’s Guide to Stuffing All of Your Belongings in Your Car Efficiently” guide one day…
Let’s address the reason why this post exists in the first place: don’t trust what anyone says about Baltimore being “not bad” in terms of weather. Ever. EVER. Now, obviously, your experience with the weather differences are going to be different than mine because I’m literally allergic to the cold but I’m pretty sure I paid a dollar in shipping over warm clothes for every time I was told, “Hey, just bring a hoodie and you’ll be fine! It doesn’t even get cold here until December.”
This is especially applicable if you’re not going to be able to go home for Thanksgiving, like me; it is crucial that you pack for the entire fall/winter semester, and not just the parts of it you’re excited about, like the humid, sunny, August weather.
What I’d suggest: Bring a wide variety of coats, in varying, and layer-able thicknesses. If you are worried about being an outfit repeater, either 1. hide from the evil outfit rememberers, or, 2. just bring a couple of variations.
Oh, what? You want to hear specific items? Oh. Uh… Here’s a disclaimer.
Fashion advice from a SAABlogger- this is probably a first. BOYS, if I’m losing you, scroll down to the next point. This is going to be a doozy. That being said, this is pretty much a unisex guide to fashion for warmth, so don’t scroll past, keep reading! Man, I’m bossy.
Remember also that I have a more Californian, laid-back style (AKA, less J. Crew and more Goodwill, less Vineyard Vines and more Free People) but hopefully this helps.
- A peacoat can be easily obtained at low and high price points, is super layerable (the hoodie-peacoat layering technique is a favorite of mine), isn’t too warm (for that, go fleecy, fluffy, and/or downy), and is a really cute item for fall in general.
- I’m all about the classic hoodie- it’s a super layerable, super comfortable, warm-when-you-need-it-to-be kind of clothing item. Get one with a Hopkins logo if that makes you happy.
- Cardigans and Sweaters are a good idea- they can be worn by themselves during chilly summer nights, and with other clothing items during colder fall nights.
- Boots! Or other warm footwear. Warm footwear is, really, an all-year-round necessity; you can pair it with warm spring-ish clothes for, I don’t know, a rugged look (?) and with warm, fluffy clothes for the “help i’m from california and it’s snowing” kinda look.
- SCARVES! These are also awesome multitasking items- I started wearing my giant, fluffy, blanket-like scarf from late September and I didn’t stop wearing it until late March.
You can see the pattern here though- layering and multi-tasking items.That’s the key to not bringing every clothing item that you own, while not repeating outfits too much or getting too cold.
Related to the cold, but not quite about the cold- I made the terrible decision of deciding not to buy rain boots and was s*** out of luck when Hurricane Sandy hit Baltimore. Don’t forget that it rains a LOT in Baltimore.
WAITWAITWAIT. Everyone download a trustworthy weather app to their preferred electrical devices because oh my god, i’m overlooking something HUGE right now, which is this:
DON’T FORGET IT GETS GROSS AND HUMID, THOUGH. I know I’ve been harping on the “bring warm clothes” front, so let me take this opportunity to tell you that it will be VERY HOT when you come over to move-in. And not just hot. It’s not like California, where it’s hot, but dry, so not gross. It’s humid.
Not humid like you think, like after a rainy day when the air gets a little bit thick. Like, “Oh come on, I showered five minutes ago and now that I come outside I’m just sweating again? ugh” kind of humid.
So don’t forget to bring tank tops and shorts and skirts and dresses and light cotton tshirts. I’m just putting that out there.
What I’d recommend: Multitaskers. (You’re going to hear this a lot. Sorry. Don’t hate me.) Dresses that will look nice with tights when it gets warm, shorts that can be worn with tshirts and sweaters alike, etc. Jeans are always great.
Also, don’t forget your fan at home. Get a fan, either through the bookstore, at Towson which has all sorts of stores, including Marshalls/TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and Walmart, and is accessible via rent-a-car from campus, or, if you please, through the Amazon Prime service which you’re eligible for a six month free trial for with your shiny new @jhu.edu account.
Speaking of Bed Bath and Beyond, Freshmen, meet your new best friend. “That doesn’t make sense,” I hear you guys say. “You just said they had Walmart, and who can resist a blue light special?” (Wait. Is that Kmart? Oops.)
Bed Bath and Beyond will allow you to choose the things you want at your hometown store, and then pick up whatever you choose at the Bed Bath and Beyond nearest your school campus. In your case, this means that you’ll be picking up things in the aforementioned Towson, which is pretty close. This is an AWESOME option for people who can’t bring everything they’re going to need because of luggage and/or laziness factors.
I don’t know if this is how it works for every store, but for the one nearest me, I went to the wedding registry area, and asked for the college student registry option (they’ll definitely know what you’re talking about, because it’s an option that a TON of students use).
This cut down on a lot of time when actually in Baltimore, because I didn’t have to run around the store and dig through shelves that had already been torn through due to the whole college registry thing.
Here are some really awesome and important facets of this program that I think make it great:
- You aren’t officially buying anything until you get to Baltimore. This means that if you think you may need something but you’re not sure, you can put it in your cart, have the people in Baltimore pick it out for you, and then take it out of your cart if you decide you don’t want it. For example, I was going to buy a vacuum, and had it in my cart, but after talking to my roommate and realizing she had bought one already, I returned it in Baltimore.
- If the store in Baltimore doesn’t have what you want, your store will ship it for you. This means that if something is on mega clearance at your store but not available in Baltimore, you can ship it, no problem. It also means that if you want something that isn’t available at either store, they’ll ship whatever you want to the store in Baltimore from whatever store has what you need.
- Bed Bath and Beyond loves sending out 20% coupons. Just saying.
- This means you don’t have to ship/pack your fan/coffee maker/storage shelves/other bulky items!
Even if you don’t end up using this program for whatever reason, it’s just a great store to get whatever you want. Did I mention that the mall that the store is in has a Panera? Yeah. Just saying.
Online Shopping also just became your new best friend. Whether you take advantage of the aforementioned Amazon Prime deal or not, you’re going to have to become acquainted with the world of online shopping. If you love a store, track down what size you tend to be in that store, and when you’re cruising through a mall or something, track down what things look interesting. I know you have time. I didn’t do anything during my pre-college summer.
Amazon has everything, from ramen noodles (a college staple), to clothing items, to all of the textbooks you’re ever going to need, to electronics in case something dies and/or explodes.
You can also sell back textbooks using Amazon and make money that way. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
Don’t ruin your favorite purse by toting around a laptop, notebooks, and textbooks in it. Many a favorite purse has been torn apart by the wear and tear of daily use. I see girls with those Longchamps bags all the time, and I’ve seen girls carry leather purses and other cute bags. By the end of the year, though, they’ll probably look a little worse for wear.
Just get a backpack or a sturdy messenger bag. You won’t have to replace your purse every year, and there are some really cute backpack options out there. This is the backpack I use; during the holiday season, the bags go on sale! Click here to be taken to a reddit thread with about 89234729 options for good looking, but functional backpacks.
If you haven’t used it in six months, don’t bother bringing it. One of the biggest packing mistakes I made was trying to bring my entire life with me to college. This meant that even if I had a certain gadget or gizmo that I hadn’t used in forever, I thought, “hey, I’ll be able to use it in college, right?” I’d come up with convoluted excuses and wierd reasons as to why I would need these things, bring them to school, and… never use them.
A good example of a bulky thing you think you’ll need but will never actually use: an iron.
(Plus, people in your hall who are from the east coast who just threw it in at the last minute will definitely have one, and if not, hang up your clothes by the shower and the steam will take the wrinkles right out. I promise.)
Another good example of a bulky thing you think you’ll need: A Brita filter.
(That may be AMR specific, but because we had a water fountain that was closer to my room than the bathroom sink, I ended up filling the brita, sans filter, with water from the water fountain. It was kind of useless. Also, I just drink the tap in Baltimore. Relevant:
There are things you’re going to forget you need, but you will need. This is a long list of things, but here are the absolute basics.
- Clorox Wipes: handy for cleaning up college dorm room sized messes. Meaning, when you’re making coffee in your room and you spill half of it on your desk. Also good for things like dusting gross surfaces, cleaning the microwave when food residue gets stuck everywhere, wiping a markerboard, and, in a pinch, washing your hands.
- Utensils: Whether you have the unlimited meal plan or the 14 meal a week plan, you’re bound to eventually eat in your room. If you’re like me, you’re going to eat in your room a lot. This means that you either need to buy a box of “assorted utensils” at char mar for five dollars (and end up with a ton of plastic knives) OR just bring a couple of forks/spoons/chopsticks/whatever preferred eating utensil. They don’t take up too much space and they save money in the long run.
- On that note, Tupperware/other food containers: You’re going to need somewhere to make your crappy college ramen, aren’t you?
- A water boiler: This may be Jackie specific, but I drink a lot of tea, eat a lot of soup, and drink a lot of coffee. These all require hot water. I didn’t bring a hot water boiler, my roommate did- but I ended up using it more than she did and I felt bad.
- Duct tape: Just bring it. seriously. It doesn’t take up any room and it’s SUCH A LIFESAVER.
- First Aid Kit: Because I was the only person in my hall who brought a first aid kit, people used my neosporin (antibacterial ointment) a lot. You’re going to cut and/or hurt yourself, and clorox won’t solve this mess.
- Scissors: Pack scissors in your checked luggage, obviously. For some reason, neither my roommate nor I thought to bring scissors and for the rest of the year we used the dinky scissors that came with the sewing kit that I bought.
Obviously, there are more items you may need, but those are the things that ended up being the most useful in my room.
Also, if you’re going to be in the AMRs, bring thumbtacks and things to hang on your wall! I had a ton of pictures and things up on my wall, and it made things feel more homey. Just don’t keep your windows open during a windy spell, or you’re going to end up with photos everywhere.
Lastly, don’t forget that your mother still loves you. Or father, or aunt, or other gendered supervising parental unit. By that, I mean, if you really need something and you’re kicking yourself because you forgot your favorite boots or your favorite coat or whatever else, she’ll (or, he’ll, or they’ll) be perfectly happy to send you a package.
…after lecturing you about how you should have thought about the fact that you would have needed whatever item.
And all I can say is, uh, apologize, and nod and smile and tell them that they’re right, and, in a week, sign for the package full of warm clothes or summer clothes or appliances or towels or whatever else.
Okay. That’s it. I’m out of tips. I hope this helped at least one of you, because otherwise, I spent like seven hours writing this post and amalgamating pictures and tips and links for nothing.
Just kidding. I love you pre-frosh! Even if I don’t know any of you. Is this getting creepy? sigh. This is why I can’t have nice things.
I’m going to end with Life According to Jimmy, because, hey, if you suffered through this post, you deserve a few laughs.