10 Things Every Wahoo Must Pack for Back to School

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“HA,” my dad laughed as he looked at my suitcase for school. “Let’s load it up!” Little did he know that I didn’t just have that suitcase of clothes… oh no. A bike, a printer, three milk crates, a bag of books and another suitcase of clothes soon cluttered the trunk and backseat of his car. But then when I pull it all out of the car, we suddenly had to run over to the store for the things I forgot. So for all the dads out there who still need to make the two and a half hour drive back to NOVA post-drop off, unloading, grocery shopping and Walmart—this goes out to you.

1. A Mattress Pad

When you first get to school and hop up on your new bed  to feel the metal webbing a measly three to four inches below you, you’ll understand. “If you’re living in dorms, a mattress pad is essential. The mattresses that UVA provide aren’t of the best quality, so bring a mattress pad if you want to avoid chiropractor bills,” University of Virginia second year Nathan Berelovich said. While the lightweight furniture and thin mattress makes rearranging your furniture nice and easy (or say, moving your roommate’s bed to the lawn for April Fools), you’ll be thankful to crash on the extra padding once midterms hit and exhaustion takes over.

2. Your Favorite Water Bottle

When I first got to UVa, I kicked myself for wasting space packing water bottles because throughout orientation I accumulated a stash of three or four new ones. Free “UVa Career Center” and “UVa Intramural Sports” or even just “UVa” bottles aren’t hard to find, but those bottles never last. They’ll get you through first year then they’ll get left under your seat in English or abandoned at the gym between weight lifting. Find your match, one you’ve specifically chosen for size or shape and its ability to keep your water cool during your two and a half hour Thursday evening seminar, and make sure you pack it each day.

3. Winter Gear

You run or bike to your early morning class, rush in, slide between the treacherous rows of strewn backpacks, jackets and coffee mugs and make it to your seat. You clumsily flip to a new page in your notebook, sit down, grab your pencil, but can’t seem to get your tingling, frozen fingers to cooperate. That’s when you realize you never packed gloves. “UVA students should remember to pack winter clothes, including items such as coats, gloves and even snow pants and boots. Although late August and early September are usually scorching hot in Charlottesville, you must never forget the stark words, because ‘winter is coming’ before you know it,” University of Virginia fourth year Vijay Menon said. These clothes take up a lot of space, but when the winter gods finally grant you the snow day you’ve been begging for via Yik Yak and Facebook, you don’t want to be trapped inside watching others sled down Mad Bowl.

4. A Place To Lounge

Need to lighten the cloud of depression hovering over your German flashcards? Try studying outside in the fresh air. “I personally don’t have one, but I’m always jealous of the students who set up those Eno hammocks on the lawn. My sister just got one and they’re hella comfy,” University of Virginia fourth year Kieran Raphael said. If you’re still working on your fear of heights, opt for a grounded alternative. “Always remember to keep an extra towel or picnic blanket and a good book for a relaxing afternoon on the lawn,” University of Virginia fourth year Lamiya Zaveri added. Use your blanket, not only for relaxing, but also for our many UVa lawn events. Get there early for Rotunda Sing and Lighting on the Lawn and save your friends spots while resting your legs.

5. Milk Crates

Every college kid’s essential. These can be used from your first year to your last. Need a place to store your dorm room cleaning supplies (you know, like that one container of hand wipes and the tube of stain remover your mom slipped into your bag)? Slide them under your bed in a milk crate. Can’t find your desk under the piles of books and papers? Make a little book shelf by turning a milk crate on its side and sliding books in there.

6. An Umbrella

The number one most forgotten tool. The last thing you want to do is sit next to the cutest boy in lecture and look over to realize you’re dripping on him. “I always keep a raincoat/umbrella in my backpack because the weather in [Virginia] can go from sunny to pouring in an instant!” Zaveri recommended. Save yourself the all-day-frizz look with a strong hood or a small, portable umbrella.

7. A Power Strip

Ode to my favorite plug: The only one not guarded by dust bunnies under the bed or trapped by the backboard of my desk. Oh how I wish you had just one more outlet in your position. But with a power strip you can finally plug your always-dying iPhone next to your bed for easy alarm access, in addition to charging your computer either at your desk or in bed. And straighten your hair in front of your mirror. And plug in the vacuum to suck up your hairballs and crumbs without having to climb through the hair-balls and crumbs to reach the plugs. And when your friend visits and wants to suck up you power, no hard feelings. All because you own more than two plugs. Thank you, power strip.

8. Your Bike

Yes, that rusty thing sitting in the corner that you haven’t used since you crashed into a tree trying to impress a crush. Fun fact: A bike does more than woo members of the other sex. “Bikes are super underrated. I know some people complain about how hilly Charlottesville is, but you can honestly bike anywhere across grounds within five minutes,” Raphael said. By the end of the year your calves and glutes will show that effort.

9. Comfortable Clothes

No, not a suitcase full of sweatpants. Bring clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. “Don’t bother bringing things you didn’t use last year, because often I find myself bringing things that I have in mind to use maybe once or twice and I never do. Like are you really gonna wear that crazy shirt to that one specifically-themed party?” University of Virginia third year Jack Muller said. You may think these unique items will come in handy, but really they’ll sit and take up space in your closet. If you really need them and have the perfect thing at home, ask your parents to include it in your next care package.

10. Drying Rack

Ain’t nobody about to pay $1.50 to shrink your favorite sundress from Forever 21. While everyone forgets this on college lists, a small, collapsible drying rack can go a long way. Say hello to your salvation from hours with the iron, panic attacks about why your sleeves only reach your forearms and shopping for new delicates after only two weeks.

Don’t Forget to Decorate Your Dorm

Hang in There Tapestry 


Geometric Fox Tapestry


Check out our shop for more awesome dorm decor.

*Updated August 13, 2016 with amazing products and links to get them.

Kristen is a Senior (or fourth year, as we call them!) at the University of Virginia, studying Art History and Media Studies. She loves modern art, walking around New York and fancy cheese.

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