College-bound freshman Maura Shannon reports on what to pack for life (sniff) away from your dear family.
Maura Shannon packs for college, making sure she takes her
Taz doll to help make the dorm feel more like home.
Photos by Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Some things, like alarm clocks, are obvious. But Nancy Newitt, a student who brought a breadmaker and bean bag chair "for guests" when she headed for Trinity University in Texas last fall, said she's known students who brought entire households, including fax machines, home theater systems and "a ridiculous abundance of the same accessories, such as scarves and hats."
So just what's necessary and what's not for freshman survival?
With two children in schools on the East Coast, Ruth Wong of Organization Plus, thought it would be helpful to come up with a "Check List for College-Bound Students" about to enter a dorm. Her list covers not only moving, but tips on time management, handling finances, stress and loneliness. She's making her list available free by mail.
"As a mother, I want Hawaii kids to do as well as possible," she said. "They don't need to be worrying about organizing what to bring."
The smallest necessities are among those that most people forget, she said. "You don't know how hard it will be to find a drug store at first, and some necessities (i.e. toothpaste, medications) will be needed the day you arrive."
Small items are no problem to pack, and although students are surprised to see a sewing kit on her list of suggestions, she said, one never knows when a sewing kit will come in handy.
Those mainland-bound are advised they're better off purchasing bulky items such as small refrigerators, television sets and computers on the mainland due to the cost of shipping and airline limitations on baggage.
If you know who your roommate will be, you may be able to work out in advance who will supply items such as irons, ironing boards, refrigerators and answering machines, Wong said.
But sweating the big things seems silly, when practical items are overlooked. Martino Wesley of the University of Hawaii Housing Department said, "The most common item a student forgets is his bed linens."
He reasons that, "They assume the linens are supplied."
Newitt never thought that one of her most useful possessions would be a big latte mug. "They're awesome!" she said. "You can drink tea out of them and use them to eat soup and saimin. Multi-purpose items are a necessity. Space is very limited in a dorm room."
"Space is very limited" might be the understatement of the year according to many other dorm residents who suggest stocking up on space-saving containers for toiletries and cleaning supplies. A basket is useful for those who will need to carry toiletries back and forth between dorm rooms and bathrooms.
Males seem to require less than females to feel comfortable. In talking to three men, it seemed they needed little more than clean underwear. Dean Carpenter, a University of Hawaii student who arrived from Arkansas added, "The most important thing to remember is an alarm clock, so you wake up in time for class."
Meanwhile, Kathy Russell, a mother of two, learned by experience that "college freshman are bound to gain between six to eight pounds their first year away, so aerobic tapes and low-fat foods are very important."
But both males and females agreed that less is more. The less clutter, the happier everyone is.
"Dorm living is different," Newitt said. "Having to share a room with someone means half as much space. The best advice is that if you haven't used something in six months, why take it with you? What makes you think you'll use it now?"
One thing that Hawaii students find in short supply on the mainland, is local food and aloha spirit. The spirit cannot always be transferred, but food can.
Care packages are a must. Kathy Russell suggests, "Bring a starter kit of arare, li hing mui, Lion coffee, rice, Aloha Maid juice, chopsticks (to feel at home) and favorite crack seed. This will hold you until relatives can send reinforcement supplies."
And never underestimate the value of photos from home. Even the brattiest sibling can seem like an angel when he or she is 5,000 miles away. Wong said she was surprised when her son called and asked to have his high school yearbook forwarded to him. He just wanted to see his old friends.
If you forget to pack something, don't worry too much about it. Part of Wong's check list includes former students' recommendations for new freshmen, and one of the anonymous statements was, "You can't really prepare; just go into it positive."
Here is a brief list of basics for dorm living.
First-aid kit: Neosporin ointment, hydrogen peroxide, Band-Aids, thermometer, tweezers, cold medicine, Q-tips, cotton balls
Desk supplies: Paper, pens, stapler, ruler, highlighter, tape, scissors, calendar, thesaurus and dictionary
Grooming: Toiletries, laundry, bag, iron, sewing kit
Safety: Flashlight and batteries
Dining: One set of eating utensils, rice cooker
For more information send a self-addressed stamped business-size envelope to : Organization Plus, 98-151 Pali Momi #110, Suite 128, Aiea, HI 96701.