Congratulations and welcome to what will surely be a year of learning, growth, and new experiences! The independence of residing on campus cannot quite be fully understood until you live it, but luckily for you, that's only a few weeks away. That's right, just a few more weeks! If you're anything like me, right about now you're more excited than you've ever been for anything, but also stressed, clueless, and pretty nervous about the whole "abandoning your friends/family and attempting to squeeze the past eighteen years of memories and belongings into a closet-sized room shared with another person you (probably) don't know super well." I survived and so will you, but hopefully these tips will help to address your concerns and maybe even answer some questions you hadn't thought to ask!
GUIDE TO BERGSTROM HALL
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Dorm rooms aren't spacious, we all know that. (Although, Bergstrom rooms are arguably the largest freshman living option, so you're in luck!) Many roommate pairs choose to rent two lofts, others rent just one, and the remainder leave their beds in the standard bunked arrangement. Here are some tips for all three options:
1. L-shaped loft (https://youtu.be/F2ZVIEfx8hI?t=144)
a. Best option for maximizing floor space! Futons typically fit comfortably underneath one of the lofted beds
b. Bed sits only a few feet from the ceiling, so it may get a little claustrophobic at first. Don't worry - you'll get used to it.
c. ** Rooms 213 and 313 have a slightly different set-up that makes L-shaped lofts a little more annoying than usual. For you, bunking or a single loft would probably be the best option! (If this is you and you want pictures or just a better explanation, let me know!)
d. After the lofts, L-shaped brackets, and the "loft-side" table (if desired) are ordered, they will be delivered to your dorm and set up before you move in (unless you move in early for a campus job, sport, etc., but even then people will be there to help set it up). Be advised that at the end of the year, however, you will need to take the lofts down by yourself (meaning with four or five other friends helping).
2. Single lofted bed a.k.a. perpendicular set-up (https://youtu.be/F2ZVIEfx8hI?t=217)
a. Less popular option, but still with many benefits!
b. In this set-up, the loft is further from the ceiling
c. About as much space as the bunking option, maybe a little less
d. Also typically set up before you move in
3. Bunked beds (https://youtu.be/F2ZVIEfx8hI?t=132)
a. Can be set up against the wall or perpendicular to the wall (in line with the two desks)
b. Unless you're in a corner room, there's not enough space for an additional futon (Note: other seating options are always an option)
c. Not the most important aspect, but this option does save money!
WHAT YOU NEED AND WHAT YOU DON'T:
This gets a little more difficult, because what some people prefer to own for themselves is something another person may not mind sharing. Take this with a grain of salt, but here are some tips on Bergstrom amenities and suggestions on what you may/may not want to add to the shopping list:
Vacuum (two are kept on each floor)
Special cleaning supplies (basic wood and window cleaners are also kept on floors)
Toilet paper/paper towel (always stocked in our lovely communal restrooms)
Individual trash can (some may prefer to have an additional personal one, but for most people, using the one that comes with the room is sufficient!)
Additional seating options (for most people this means a futon, ottoman, folding chairs, etc.)
Some sort of rug/carpet to cover the hard floors
Additional storage containers/organizers for food, clothing, etc.
CLOROX WIPES. In my opinion, the only necessary cleaning supply :)
Mini fridge - although there is a full-size fridge in the first floor kitchen, most people enjoy having a fridge for themselves
Microwave - this is also a difficult one, because while some people frequently use microwaves and prefer having their own, for others, it works to just use the communal microwave in the first floor kitchen. My roommate and I enjoyed having our own, but again, this is up to you!
Extra lighting - ex. desk lamps or floor lamps - are super helpful!
Your closet has a built-in dresser with a small drawer, two medium-sized, and one large (depth-wise). This helps, but most people utilize additional plastic storage (for underneath beds, in the closet, or wherever else they fit!), which you can determine based on your own needs.
Closet shoe organizers are very helpful! I used a hanging organizer inside my closet for shoes, and a flat one meant for the back of a door (which I command-hooked to the side of my closet), for storing water bottles, lotion, an umbrella, and other supplies.
CHECK OUT THE ROOM DIMENSIONS GUIDE - https://www.snc.edu/housing/livingoptions/images/layouts/bergstrom.layout.pdf
Note: The “pantry” is more like a coat-closet with a bit of space for cleaning supplies or whatever you choose on the top shelf
Also, the room comes with a shoe tray that can be used for storing wet shoes or other items. Most kids throw it under their bed. You’ll figure it out.
FANS. BRING FANS. Rooms have heaters to keep things cozy in winter, but sadly no A/C. Fans will be lifesavers the first few weeks, believe me.
GUIDE TO PACKING
I’m sure you’ve done your research or are in the process currently. Work with your roommate to decide who brings what and agree on a move-in day plan. Packing is a stressful and difficult process, but my biggest piece of advice is to NOT OVERPACK. It’s hard, but try your hardest! Everyone has different situations, and depending on where you live you may have fewer options, but packing for the season tends to be a good idea. Summer weather doesn’t last forever, but SNC Day - a celebratory weekend when parents visit campus in mid to late September - is a great opportunity to switch out some clothes for later in the season. Additionally, there’s no need to bring everything you own to school. This is definitely a weird time in life - having two different bedrooms and homes and pretty much two separate worlds - but you’ll make it work. Don’t stress too much. You can always walk across the bridge to Walgreens or drive to Walmart if you forget anything on move-in day or anytime after!
GUIDE TO MOVE-IN DAY
Move-in day is undoubtedly a stressful time, but you will soon see that it’s not as bad as you may think. This past year I only carried a few things up to my room, and it only took one trip, as there were tons of upperclassmen and staff volunteers helping out! It’s a crazy day, full of introductions, chaos, and confusion, but it’s overall a pretty fun time. Let your parents be gushy and take pictures and whatever. You honestly look more stupid if you put up a fight. Let them have this moment. And GET EXCITED!!!
GUIDE TO WEEK OF WELCOME
If you’re not familiar, Week of Welcome is the first few days before classes when freshmen are introduced to fellow classmates, all of the offices around campus, and campus in general! It’s gonna be crazy, a bit boring at times, and EXHAUSTING overall. There’s so much to learn and it definitely can feel overwhelming at times, but you have so many mentors here to guide you through the process of adjusting to a new place. Don’t forget, everyone’s in the same position you are. Keep an open mind and just go with it. Soon you’ll be immersed in classes, clubs, and activities and you’ll miss the peaceful days before responsibilities started coming!
GUIDE TO MINDSET
And lastly, here are some tips to ensure your first week kicks off the best year yet:
Be yourself!!! You are at a pivotal time in your development as an active participant of the human race. Honor and stay true to that. Make friends who appreciate the real you, and leave any reputations or preconceived notions about yourself far from this new home of yours.
Embrace the chaos. The first week is crazy. No one knows what’s going on, honestly, and everyone is just as clueless as you are. So laugh about getting lost, don’t sweat the fact that building names confuse you (nearly every building is a Mulva, fair warning), and most importantly, don’t judge others if you’re catching on a little faster than they are. This is one of the only times in life where randomly introducing yourself to complete strangers is perfectly normal, so take advantage of it!
Talk to people!!! They want to meet new friends just as much as you do. And honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?
ST. NORBERT IS A FAMILY. People smile at each other. If you know someone and make eye contact, say hi. Maybe even ask them how their day is going. It’s not weird. Everyone holds the door longer than necessary. It’s a common courtesy, I guess. Don’t question, just do.
Communal bathrooms aren’t bad, I promise!!! Within a few days it’ll feel completely natural to run into people on your way in and out of the shower, and you’ll be an expert at maintaining conversations while brushing your teeth in the morning.
The campus is (in my opinion) definitely the most beautiful in fall. Enjoy it while you can! (Although there is truly never a time the campus isn’t absolutely stunning. It’s just a bit harder to appreciate the beauty with wind chills below zero on your morning walk to the caf.)
TRY YOUR BEST not to come in with expectations. It’s so cliche, but college truly changes you if you’re open to letting it. Be open to changing your major, your career path, your world views, your political opinions. Be open to gaining new friends from different backgrounds and joining clubs that are way out of your comfort zone. Do what inspires you to get out of bed in the morning, and the rest will fall into place. Trust me.
Best of luck, little one. You've got this.
(Bergstrom 308 -- 2016-17)