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Carolina Housing Blog

Mentally Preparing for Move-In Day

August 10, 2023

By Sophia Raspanti

Welcome Carolina Students! Move-in dates are upon us all, and as seasoned college students know, move-in day can bring a lot of stress and emotions upon you and your family. As a recent graduate & on-campus resident for my entire college career, these are my top five tips to make your transition period as smooth as possible!

#1 Create a Move-In Strategy!

Imagine planning a strategy for a team game: now apply it to move-in! Having a game plan for your move-in will relieve stress and help ensure that you are able to finish everything in a timely manner. While everyone’s move-in strategy may differ, I will explain a few things that always helped me and my family complete move-in smoothly.

    Firstly, I highly recommend packing your vehicle(s) the night before. This will ensure for a smoother experience on the actual day of move-in. Many people may have a far drive to campus and early move-in time slots, so packing the night before allows you and your family to get some extra rest and wake up with one less thing to do. If it is not possible for you to pack a vehicle ahead (i.e., you are flying or coming from abroad), try to make shipping arrangements for your luggage ahead of time so that your belongings arrive on your move-in date. Please avoid sending luggage that will arrive over 3-4 days before you plan to arrive, as the UNC Package Centers deal with a high volume of mail and package delivery during this time, and storage for your luggage is very difficult.

If possible (aka, if you have space available in your vehicle), I highly recommend bringing a hand-held cart to assist in moving heavy objects. Additionally, I recommend bringing a hand-held fan and other supplies that will ensure you feel comfortable during your move-in. If you plan on lofting your bed, remember to bring a rubber mallet to set up your bed frame. If you forget, rubber mallets are typically available at the front desk of your residence hall, however, as there are many people moving in at a time, there may be no rubber mallets available for you to use. If you are moving in around the same time as a roommate, I recommend communicating with them to ensure that both of you have the necessary items to move in: as cheesy as it sounds… sharing is caring!

    Remember that dorm rooms have limited space, and if you are like me (a self-identified fashionista), you may consider packing seasonally. It’s ok to leave winter clothes at home and switch out your wardrobe as the cooler seasons arrive. Campus temperatures are usually sweltering until mid-October, and while there are always slight weather fluctuations, heavy sweaters are generally unnecessary until the winter months.

    Finally, going along with the original idea of having a “game plan,” I recommend assigning specific jobs to each person assisting you with your move-in. For example, someone who is particularly strong may be assigned to carrying heavy items, while other people may carry in lighter luggage. I promise that dividing the labor makes the process much smoother, faster, and easier. Organization is key to a great move-in!

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

#2 Plan to Arrive Early!

   UNC Chapel Hill is home to thousands of students, many of which enjoy living on-campus! Because there is limited parking, and many students eager to return to campus, Carolina Housing has created move-in time slots to ensure that all students have time to unpack without worrying about lack of ideal parking, overcrowded elevators, and other inconveniences. However, for this system to work, it is important that you and your family respect the move-in time slot that you have selected. Plan to arrive early so you don’t waste any time moving into your building. Remember to pick up your keys first, so that you can enter your building and dorm room, and then get to unpacking. For certain residence halls, there are limits on parking time, which may cause slight inconveniences, but I can assure you that my family and I have moved in and out successfully over 4 times! Finally, while it is important to try your best to respect the time slot, we understand that unforeseen circumstances may occur. Take it from me: it’s not the end of the world if it takes you and your family a little extra time to get everything into your new home.

#3 Prepare for an Emotionally Taxing Day

    College move-in, especially if it is your first year in college, can be a significant source of stress. Not only is moving stressful, the horizon of a major transitionary period in your life may seem like a large obstacle. Before beginning your journey, potentially even before you begin packing, remind yourself that it’s ok to feel nervous, anxious, or stressed. Have grace and patience with yourself: some people might make moving in look easy, but in reality, most people are feeling a lot of emotions just like you! Sometimes stress can manifest in frustration and anger, so remember that if arguments begin to break out, it’s ok to take a breather and return to packing and discussing plans later. Parents and students, remember to have grace and patience for each other, because each of you may be having a complex emotional experience with the concept of your loved one, or yourself moving on to a new phase of life.

(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

#4 Don’t Forget to Rest and Refresh!

     I am sure that I sound like a broken record saying this, but the best way to handle stress is to make sure that you are sleeping well and eating well. Lack of sleep, hunger, dehydration, and physical discomfort are all catalysts to frustration and additional stress. Even though sleeping is difficult the night before your life changes in a huge way, take time for yourself to practice self-care and relax as much as possible. If you can sleep, get as much rest as you can!

     On the day of move-in, make sure to wear comfortable clothing that you don’t mind breaking a sweat in. “Fall” move-in days are typically hot and humid; we are still at least a month away from the “classic” fall weather! I recommend wearing closed-toed shoes, as many of the objects necessary for your dorm room may heavy. Trust me, you don’t want to drop a mini fridge on your foot! I also recommend loose, breathable clothing, such as a cotton T-shirt and athletic shorts. Obviously, what you wear is up to you, but I highly recommend going for comfort over cute for the actual move-in part of the day: you can always change into a cute outfit once the big items are up the stairs!

     Finally, avoid hunger and dehydration by packing lots of water, Gatorade (or similar refreshments), and snacks! UNC Chapel Hill has a breathtakingly beautiful campus, with lots of spaces to enjoy an outdoor picnic if you choose to pack lunch or take your first trip to Franklin Street and enjoy some of the wonderful food options available! Moving large objects and being in the sun and heat brings hunger and dehydration, so remember to take plenty of snack breaks!

(Johnny Andrews / UNC-Chapel Hill)

#5 It’s Ok to Get Tearful

For both parents and students, going off to college is a huge transition period! As a student, you may find that you feel excited, nervous, joyful, or anxious. Parents, you may feel excitement and sadness as your child leaves home for a new adventure. First off, you are not the only ones feeling these emotions. Speaking with other families you meet while you move in, or connecting with your roommate and their family may be a great way to support each other in such an exciting time.

Move-in will happen quickly: one minute you’ll be driving away from home, and the next, you will find yourself parked in front of your new residence hall lugging heavy items up the stairs! Once your room is set up, it will soon be time to say goodbye: for me, this was the most terrifying part. Always remember, that in the age of the internet, you are only a phone call/Skype/or Facetime away from your loved ones. Take lots of photos together, as well as your college student in their newly decorated space! It is always nice to have something to look back on to see how far you’ve come. Finally, wish lots of luck and love, and don’t forget that you can say goodbye as many times as you need: I promise there isn’t a deadline on saying goodbye.

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)
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