Move-In Day through the Years

I was excited to move into my dorm as a freshman in college — so excited, in fact, that I moved in on the earliest scheduled day for new students.

I made it to Tuscaloosa after a three hour drive in a loaded car, my parents following me in their packed SUV. It took us an extra thirty minutes to get to campus because of the of traffic. We finally made it to the dorm — I was to spend the next year of my life here.

When we arrived, our vehicles were immediately surrounded by strangers who started unloading everything before I could ask where I was supposed to go. It reminded me of cops confronting a get-away car, pulling everything out of the car that they can.

When I got to my room, everything I had brought with me was already there, but out in the hall because the front door was locked. I suppose this means the move-in day system is incredibly efficient, but for me it was just stressful. The traffic, coupled with the Alabama in August this-is-what-Hell-probably-feels-like-only-more-humid weather, plus the whirlwind of people unpacking cars without so much as a “Hi, I’m going to take these things to your room,” irritated me.

Unpacking was even more stressful because my parents stayed to help me with it. They got hungry and tired, while I just wanted to unpack until it was done. I vowed to do things differently my sophomore year.

Move-in for my sophomore year rolled around, and I decided I wasn’t going to sign up for the earliest move-in day. I would move in a couple days earlier, with less people around, at my own pace. Apparently, half the campus had the same idea.

I concluded move-in day my sophomore year was worse than freshman year; it was too crowded. The only thing better about it was that I didn’t let my parents stay to help me unpack. I’m surprised the stress of move-in didn’t give me an aneurysm.

Finally, move-in for my junior year arrived. I was living in a brand-new apartment complex. Brand-new as in I was moving in the day after construction was completed. I decided this time I would pack my car, go down by myself, sort of move in, and then let my parents come a couple of days later with the rest of my stuff. But after my first two experiences, I was afraid that this experience would be just as stressful, if not more so.

When I got to my apartment complex, I was pleasantly surprised. All I had to do was park, pick up my key and other move-in information, and drive to my building, where I could start unloading my things. One of my friends came to help me, and we had everything I had brought in my apartment in less than thirty minutes. There weren’t many people moving into the apartment that day, so there were no crowds to deal with.

But, a couple of days later, the entire apartment complex was packed with people moving in. Students and their families swarmed the buildings, all jostling for parking spots and places to unload cars without blocking sidewalks.

Driving in Tuscaloosa was a nightmare. Target and Walmart sold out of all of their items targeted at college students. The city was grossly overpopulated for several days, so I and the others who had moved in earlier stayed home. None of us wanted to lose our parking spaces or drive through gridlocked traffic to get food or go shopping.

And then finally, after several days, the city was back to a normal traffic and population level. Driving was no longer a nightmare — the scarcity in the stores vanished. Move-in was over.

But it will happen again next year. If I’ve learned one thing from my experiences with moving to different places every school year, it’s that there’s no escaping the stress of move-in, when close to 25,000 students rush into a college town seemingly void all summer. Since there’s no escaping it, we’ll all just have to get used to it.

  • Shashank Wattal

    “this-is-what-Hell-probably-feels-like-only-more-humid weather” – that Hell you describe seems much like my hometown. :D