Marlowe Evans.

Marlowe Evans.

Being Young: Packing up and leaving home

What university dorm room is complete without a giant inflatable shark hanging from the ceiling?

With July finished, summer is officially halfway over. For me, this means more than just the regular back-to-school rush: Sept. 1 will be my first day at a new school on the other side of the country.

With only one month left (like many university and college-bound students), I am seriously examining what I should bring with me to school and what I should buy when I get to the University of New Brunswick.

Living in a room about the same size as my bedroom will be cramped, but shared with another person it will be even more so. Now I’m not only thinking about what I’ll need to put on my back-to-school list, but how I’m going to live in close quarters with a stranger.

I’ve started focusing on my dorm room. UNB has a beautiful campus with gorgeous brick residences and interiors that bring Hogwarts to mind. Regardless, it doesn’t mean the room I’ll be sharing with my roommate will hold even half my belongings, even if I could manage to get them from B.C. to New Brunswick.

How does one begin to choose from a lifetime of collected treasures? My advice? Choose wisely, limit the choices, and keep them small. Wall art, small rugs, bedding, even towels can combine to give a student in a strange land a sense of home and personal identity.

I was recently assigned both a residence and a roommate; we’ve been collaborating on what we think we’ll need for our room, and how to decorate. I have an eclectic style, and have been accused of being “cluttery” with my decorating. I think having a roommate can help me to keep that in check.

Collaborating on décor is an important part of a roommate relationship. We’ve got to remember just how small dorm rooms really are, and that it’s a place to sleep and study. Even the bathroom (down the hall) is shared. I’m looking forward to living with a friend, in a house full of other friends on a campus of friends.

As someone who is moving away from home for the first time, and choosing to move over 8,000 kilometres away, I’m excited for this new beginning – even if I still don’t know what to pack.

I like to think I’m good at packing. I once packed 12 days’ worth of outfits into a regulation-sized carry-on suitcase. Still, trying to decide what’s important to me, what I need, and what will fit in suitcases is a struggle.

Add in the dilemma of what I should buy when I get to Fredericton (my roommate and I have already settled who will buy the microwave vs. who will buy the fridge), and it’s going to be a challenge. School runs from September to April, so I won’t need summer clothes, but as for the wicked winters in the Maritimes, I think I’m best off buying winter boots and jackets once I’m there.

That leaves spring and fall wardrobes to shove into suitcases. Students who are planning to live in residence should consider the time of year they will be on campus, the size of their room and the storage (I have a teeny, tiny closet and a small dresser). I am going to look into the cost of renting a storage locker off campus so I don’t have to tote my university belongings coast to coast; I will be assigned a new room each term.

The things I will leave behind weigh as heavily on my mind as what I need to bring. It goes without saying that I will miss my family, but I will also miss my books – my hundreds and hundreds of books – and my knick knacks, those mementos from special celebrations.

And how will I ever Skype with my beloved Golden retriever James, or my horse Mitchel?

All of that aside, I’ve decided upon one important thing: I must bring my giant inflatable shark to school. What university dorm room is complete without a giant inflatable shark hanging from the ceiling?

That’s all for this week. Now I’ve got to start doing a different kind of packing, for vacation – my graduation trip – to Paris.

Marlowe Evans is a Thomas Haney

secondary graduate who writes about youth issues.