Last week, Admissions_Ardi and I took a stroll over to the freshman quad to watch some of the move-in activity. As usual, it was a scene of perfectly organized chaos. And when I say perfectly organized, I mean just that. JHU’s move-in day reflects the excellence, efficiency, and enthusiasm that we value in our academic and extracurricular lives here on campus. For new students and parents, I think it’s the perfect introduction to the incredible place that will serve as a home away from home for the next four years. The freshman quad was filled with Peer Ambassadors and Orientation Ambassadors who were busily moving boxes and bags from packed minivans, smiling all the while. A student-run business, The Complete Dorm Room, doled out pre-purchased XL sheets, fans, and school supplies to slightly harried parents. And, of course, there were lots of freshman students, looking just a tad nervous as they observed the confident returning students hauling their stuff.
Nervousness is a pretty typical (and reasonable!) emotion to feel on move-in day. But when I asked some of your favorite student bloggers to share memories of their freshman move-in experiences, it became clear that nervousness was always quickly joined by another emotion; namely, amazement at the painlessness of the process. From JHU_Tess :
“I remember the dread on my family’s faces the morning of my freshman year move-in. The previous year my older brother had gone to college, and to say that his move-in was a disaster would be the understatement of the century. So as we drove to Homewood, the tension in the car was palpable. As it turned out, there was no reason to be concerned. My family still discusses to this day how we didn’t lift a finger throughout the entire process. Everything was organized and efficient, and by the time I made it up to my room, the Hopkins movers had already brought up all my stuff!”
From JHU_Lucie : “When I moved into AMR 2 as a freshman, my family was incredibly nervous wondering how we’d get everything into the room; you see, I’m a twin, and my dad’s car was filled to the brim with college items for TWO people. When we pulled up in front of the dorm, our car was swarmed with move-in helpers wearing ‘I like to move it move it’ t-shirts, and, in what felt like 30 seconds, our car was empty!”
The bonding that occurs during move-in was also a theme. From JHU_Erica :
“I’ll never forget rolling my suitcases from the hotel across the street to AMR 2. It started pouring down rain and I was dripping wet when I arrived to my room, but all the volunteers and students were so friendly and welcoming! My entire house bonded over the terrible move in weather since most of us were soaking wet!”
From JHU_Ruthie: “The way PAs and OAs collect the student from the car allows the freshman to meet someone new the instant they step onto campus, and that kind of immediate bonding only happens because everything is structured so effectively. I remember the PA who moved me in last year – she actually turned out to be one of my Alpha Phi sisters after I rushed! I hope that I’ve had the same positive effect now that I’m on the flip side.”
I loved reading what each SAABer remembered about his or her move-in day, and as I did, I couldn’t help thinking back to my own experience four years ago. Because I was a Pre-O kid coming from Minnesota, my parents weren’t able to help me move in to my room—instead, we left my stuff at the Outdoor Pursuits basecamp when I went off for my trip. When I returned from Pre-O, some of my leaders helped me load my stuff into a van and haul it over to AMR II, where I was met by a team of eager, friendly student movers. Within minutes, all of my boxes and bags had been dropped in the middle of my second floor room in Gildersleeve house. I couldn’t even begin to think about settling in without taking a shower first—I was pretty sure I would scare away any fellow freshmen I encountered in my post-Pre-O state.
After wandering around the maze that is AMR II for a several minutes looking for a bathroom, I finally found one and spent a good half hour washing away the after effects of a week on the Appalachian Trail. Pre-O had also left me with a nice, big pile of very dirty clothes, so my next stop was the laundry room. Although I had practiced doing my own wash several times that summer, I still managed to load my quarters into a dryer instead of a washing machine, which led to several more trips up and down the stairs to get dollar bills to make change to put into the correct appliance. At this point, I was famished, so I went off in search of dinner. The FFC wasn’t open yet, so I tried to make my way into Charles Village. Instead, I got totally turned around and found myself near what I would later be able to identify as the Hopkins Club (which is basically in the opposite direction of Charles Street, for those of you who aren’t familiar with campus). I had done a pretty good job of staying calm until this point. I had gotten to my dorm, picked up my keys, found the bathrooms, done my laundry, met my R.A. But now I was hungry and lost, and I was losing it. My chin was trembling as I dialed my home number on my cell phone, and by the time my mom picked up, I was sobbing. We laugh about that phone call now, but at the time, she says, it was so hard to be so far away, feeling like she couldn’t help me. She did, however, get me calmed down enough to continue my quest for dinner, which eventually led me to Chipotle.
Reaching Chipotle was like discovering an oasis in the desert. In high school, my friends and I would actually drive 45 minutes from our small town just to get Chipotle. I would soon learn that novelty of this particularly chain restaurant was lost for me when I no longer had to go to such great lengths to get it. But right then, it was just what I needed. As I sat there with my burrito bowl, awkwardly pretending to read some of the freshmen brochures I had brought along to distract me, a couple of older-looking girls walked in. As they waited in line, another group of girls entered, and a reunion full of happy squeals and shrieks ensued. I couldn’t help but smile a little. They sounded just like me and my best friends from high school when we saw each other after time apart. They seemed really happy, so sure of themselves, and so at ease in a place that was so foreign and strange to me at that moment. I know it sounds super corny, but I actually remember thinking to myself, “That will be me, someday soon.” Before I knew it, a year went by, and I came back to a campus I could navigate easily and met my friends for dinner at our favorite Charles Village spots. That process repeated itself two more times, and suddenly, I was walking across the stage in Homewood field, a college graduate, with a crew of amazing best buds cheering me on.
For those of you staring down the college application process, it might be tough to envision finding yourself in a place where you feel as comfortable as you do now. The truth is, there will be moments of uncertainty, even when you arrive on your chosen college’s campus. You might find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you brought, or caught in the rain with your bags, or pretending to read brochures in a Chipotle. But it’s okay, because everyone else is having those same kinds of moments. Then something wonderful will happen: maybe, after a laundry fiasco, you’ll meet your future roommate in the hallway of your dorm (like me) or, like JHU_Allysa, you’ll find love during O-Week:
“I met my boyfriend during Orientation! In addition to Aaron, I pretty much met all of my best friends during Orientation week and today, out of all of my friends, they are the ones I know that will be my friends for a lifetime.”
The bottom line is, it will be okay. Before you know it, you’ll be watching a group of new freshmen loitering around the dorms. Who knows? You may even be one of those peppy Peer Ambassadors helping them transition into a new dorm and a new stage of life.