Frosh-cessities: What to bring to Brown

So, you’re going to college. Maybe you’re excited or #nervous, or a combination of the two. Don’t worry – BlogDH has you covered with some packing tips and advice for the terrifying/exciting/overwhelming prospect that is moving to college. After you gather all the essentials (twin XL bedding, shower shoes, a can-do attitude, etc.), here are some other things to consider bringing to campus (or leaving at home):

Things you will definitely need

  • A fan is pretty essential for orientation and the first few weeks of the year, as it is still hot AF in Providence for the first half of September. Dorms do not have air conditioning, and the feeble, still-warm ‘breeze’ coming from your open window will be inadequate to keep you from waking up in an unfortunate you-shaped puddle of sweat every morning. Don’t worry – it cools down pretty quickly at the end of September into October, and you probably won’t need your fan again until maybe the final couple weeks of the year.
  • Command hooks and mounting strips are super helpful for hanging decorations, towels, bulletin boards, and other items on your walls. With enough command strips and blind optimism, you can keep pretty much anything up, even a full-length mirror on a slightly sticky cinderblock wall.
  • bank card is useful for monthly expenses, shopping at the largest carpeted mall in America (has this tour fact ever been actually verified?), and when you run out of points and Bear Bucks because of too many before-4 p.m. Blue Room muffins. Make sure to check your bank has a convenient location in Providence. There will also be a banking fair during orientation where you can check out these options in greater depth.
  • Cleaning supplies. Custodial Services cares for shared spaces, but not individual rooms. Please get and use them, for the sake of your roommate, or at least the night before Family Weekend. (Though you can probably wait until you get to campus to get these.) Odor-canceling spray is also great to have for spraying your comforter that you will probably never wash all year, and for the “Febreze walk-through” – spray mist in the air in front of you and glide on in. It’s a perfect ‘almost shower,’ a lazy, personal car-wash of sorts.
  • Rain gear, including a rain jacket, boots, and loyal and iron-willed umbrella, are pretty essential for Lil Rhody weather. Despite how scenic and lovely the Main Green looks come Spring, it will rain this year, and water will seep into your clothes, body, and spirit. Also, while many people wait until Thanksgiving Break to bring up their winter clothes, Providence weather can also be fairly unpredictable, and there can be the occasional rogue snowstorm in October.

Things you might need

  • Proper identification documents, if you are planning on getting an on-campus job this year. You will need to fill out an I-9 at the Human Resources Department, verifying your eligibility to work in the United States. The I-9 requires either a U.S. Passport or driver’s license plus social security card.
  • Pictures and reminders of family, friends, and others you hold dear to your heart. (Though I personally put a framed family photo on the top shelf of my desk that I did not look at once during the whole year – sorry fam.) Bring what works for you!
  • Laundry can be a pretty annoying and unenjoyable experience at Brown. For some reason, the washing machines are fairly unsympathetic, and the dryers can heat up to excessive, dragon-belly temperature levels. Laundry bags can be great to protect your clothes, and also to prevent clothes from disappearing in the washer/dryer. Extra socks and underwear are also helpful to (a) replace those lost to the sock monster and (b) to avoid doing laundry for an extra week or two.
  • Not a priority, but an extra-long phone charger cord can be helpful when you want to lie in bed and be a useless, lazy potato, but your phone is 9 feet too far out of reach. Room outlets can also be randomly placed and sometimes scarce (some rooms have a strip around the whole room, others have only 2 or 3), so power strips with long cords can be useful as well.

Things you should probably leave at home

  • Books you will probably never read (though I’m pretty guilty of this one). Although keeping The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life and your five favorite novels from high school Lit class on your shelf might be good for the #aesthetic and intrigue, you will not have time to read them, and they will take up limited dorm space. Maybe just settle for a couple books, in case you get around to finally reading them by the end of the year (you probably won’t, but always worth a try).
  • Be careful not to pack too many clothes, so you don’t end up with two pairs of shoes and five sweatshirts that you haven’t worn a single time by the end of the year. You really don’t need as many clothes as you might think – you will probably end up wearing the same 5 outfits every week (and everyone will be okay with it).
  • That ukulele or instrument you kinda-sorta-not-really learned how to play in high school (@me). While it might seem like a fun thing to whip out in your dorm’s lounge for late-night jam sessions, it probably won’t happen. Unless you are planning to try out for a group, your instrument will likely just gather dust in your closet for most of the year.

Some other things to consider:

Check your dorm’s layout and floor plan before going shopping to see what storage and dorm items you may or may not need. Each room comes with two garbage bins and one shared recycling bin. Some rooms have built-in closets, others have stand-up wardrobes. Some dorms, like EmWool and MoChamp, have shared closet space in the halls as well. Some beds have pegs to adjust the height, others do not. Check the proximity of shared kitchens and appliances in your dorm to see if you might need a mini-fridge or microwave. It’s a good idea to check in and coordinate with your roommate to see what they are planning on bringing – one printer, one fridge, one microwave, etc. is all you will need per room.

Most, if not all, first-year dorms have a safe in the closet or wardrobe you can use to store a laptop and other valuables in. There are also two Ethernet ports in every dorm room. When you get your key and info packets on move-in day, Brown gives out blue Ethernet cables – if you don’t have a slot on your computer for them, you might need to get an adapter.

Some students like to get a rug for their room, but it’s probably be best to wait until you get to Brown to see how much space, in what shape, is available for one. There are trucks that sell used rugs that roam Keeney/Pembroke area for the first couple of weeks of the year.

Shipping to campus: You should have received your Brown mailing address and box number earlier in August. You can start shipping boxes and things to campus now, though be aware the lines to pick up packages (in the new fancy schmancy mailroom) will be pretty nuts at the beginning of the semester.

Especially if you are traveling by plane cross-country or abroad, take advantage of the stores in and near Providence. If you are traveling from far away, consider only packing clothes and other essentials, and getting all your dorm supplies and toiletries when you get to campus. The Providence Place Mall (a 15-minute walk from campus) has Bed Bath & Beyond, which is useful for dorm supplies and also ANYTHING you could ever need, ever (hello, LEGO alarm clock, overall-clad corn butterer, and 6-at-once, mess-free cherry pitter). Many other major stores are only a short drive away – Target, Walmart, and, more importantly, Michaels, are only a 12-minute drive away by car in Seekonk, MA, or a 45ish-minute trip by bus (take advantage of the free RIPTA rides with your Brown ID). Also, if you’re eligible, free Lyft or Uber codes are great for dorm shopping excursions.

Looking for some more info? ResLife has a thorough incoming student FAQ on their website. Check out some of our previous packing guides. Our friends over at FuckYeahBrownUniversity have also answered many questions about moving in and orientation.

Welcome to Brown, Class of 2019!

Image via and Kenji Endo ’18.

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1 Comment

  1. Small correction: CIS isn’t handing out ethernet cables because our TV service no longer requires them (and because the class of 2018 were confused about what to do with these antiques). But we have something fun to hand out instead! If anyone is desperate for an ethernet cable we might have a few leftovers, but you shouldn’t need one – wifi is just as fast and all the first-year residence halls have upgraded wifi.

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