An Unexpected and Boozy Start to College

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The first thing my roommates did when I met them freshmen year was offer me a glass of wine. On move-in day. Right in front of my parents.

My freshmen move-in day was a hot mess to say the least.

The sun sweltered at 100 degrees. My parents were stressed. I was stressed because they were stressed.

It all started the night before move-in. Dorm shopping went smoothly (despite fighting four other freshmen for the last twin XL memory-foam mattress topper at Bed Bath & Beyond).

I felt confident things were going well—until housing gave me my assigned move-in time: 3:00 p.m. with a parking pass good for 30 minutes. One of the last slots of the day, this did not bode well with the parents. “How do they expect us to move everything in 30 minutes? Is the parking lot far from the dorm? Are your other roommates moving in at that time too?”

I come from a family of planners so when something happens that doesn’t agree with our schedule, not only does it cause chaos but we just don’t do it. So my parents made their own plan to show up at 10:00 a.m. We’d avoid the crowds, get parking and hopefully get there before my roommates. I objected but was quickly shut down.

I only visited the campus twice before and the Hill (the accurately dubbed location of all dorms and dining halls) was a blurry memory. Insanely crowded, no one knew where they were going. Signs to strange places like Rieber and Hedrick Hall pointed every which-way. I felt like Alice trying to find her way around Wonderland.

After driving the loop of the Hill twice in search of De Neve Hall, we finally gave up and stopped at a random dorm. “Uh, dad, I don’t think this is right…” “It doesn’t matter, we just need to check in somewhere.”

My instincts were correct. The patient soul at the Sproul Hall check-in booth not only confirmed that I needed to check in at De Neve but that I would also not be able to move-in early.

We were all annoyed at this point. Things weren’t going according to plan. We were hungry and the temperatures that day broke records. So we decided to go back to the hotel, eat and get dorm snacks at Target.

It was all but mutiny at Target. Empty shelves and full carts of food and water made it seem like a natural disaster was about to hit. By the time we finished fighting the crowds and checking out, it was 2:45 p.m. Time to go back and finally move in.

This time we found the dorm but our struggle was far from over. De Neve’s parking lot was full, eliciting an exasperated “I knew this would happen” from my mom. After fighting with the kid at the parking booth for 20 minutes, my parents managed to convince him to let us stay in the loading zone just to get the items into the moving carts.

I checked in and got my keys and two carts. They were the most janky, rickety things I’d ever seen. Made of practically tarp and some wood, these bad boys seemed more unstable than my sanity that day.

These carts also had a mind of their own. They seemed to steer in every direction except forward. And as we loaded them up, they’d slowly inch away from the car when you weren’t looking and make a beeline for another parked car. (My dad took a picture of my mom and I trying to wrangle them. It was funny in hindsight.)

After waiting 30 minutes for the only elevator in the building, we finally made it up to my floor. My dorm sat at the very end of the hall. I whipped out my orientation packet, double checking the room number before giving a knock to see if my roommates were home. No answer. I shrugged and soon I swung the door open to the dorm I would call home for the next quarter.

It was small. A prison cell was probably bigger. I’m an only child so I was used to living in a whole room to myself. I didn’t expect to be within literal arms reach of my other two roommates at all times.

Also to our disappointment, the other roommates had moved in already, seeing that the bunk beds and two desks were already occupied. I was left with the lofted bed with a cave-like desk underneath. And of course it came with the smallest closet.

As I stood inspecting and scrutinizing the room, my mom let out a startled cry. “WHAT IS THIS?”

I whipped around to see her pointing at a huge bottle of wine sitting on one of the desks, blatantly out in the open, almost defiantly. Now my parents are pretty chill and were college students themselves at some point, but I don’t think my mom expected that on the first day.

“You think she’ll let us have any after the day we’ve had?” My mom half-joked.

After a good laugh, we got to work unloading and unpacking all my things. Soon my corner of the room became a cozy nook decorated with pictures of family and friends and other memorabilia from home.

My dad joined us after finding long-term parking and agreed the place started to look good. We were just about done, fixing a few last minute things when two girls poked their heads in, wide-eyed and apprehensive of this newcomer.

My mom, being the not socially-awkward one, spoke first and said, “Hi, are you Jess’s roommates?” They confirmed that they indeed were my roommates and we introduced ourselves.

After getting over some brief awkwardness, the two girls quickly started to inspect my set up. “Oh, where’d you get your comforter? Those pictures are really cute- is that your best friend? Did you get this from Target?”

As we started to chat more, my one roommate sat down at the desk with the wine on it. My mom and I exchanged a look but didn’t say anything. I’m not sure exactly what her thought process was but she stopped the conversation and picked up the bottle and, completely serious, asked, “Do you guys want a glass of wine?”

It took everything within my mom not to burst out laughing. I politely declined and steered the conversation in another direction. (Little did I know that this wine bottle would turn into a saga. Its last hurrah was when she put it at the top of her closet and as she was trying to get it down one day, she told us how it was imported and super expensive then preceded to drop and shatter the whole thing on the floor. It seemed almost poetic.)

If I had any advice for making your move-in day less chaotic than mine it would be the following: Preorder what you can online then pick it up in stores to avoid a fight in aisle seven of Bed Bath & Beyond. Visit your campus and find your dorm building beforehand to get the lay of the land and avoid parking drama.

Most importantly, expect the unexpected. Anything can happen so take it with a grain of salt (or a glass of wine) and laugh at the chaos of it.

College Magazine does not promote underage drinking. Please drink responsibly.

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