Before embarking on my four year adventure, I did what any excited high school grad would do: spend countless hours surfing the internet in search of every possible college packing list I should know about.
But, of course, no magic number of "What to Pack" videos equate to the knowledge you gain from experiencing college yourself.
I also realized that most of the people producing advice for freshmen, aren't freshmen. While older students have more experience in the navigation of college life, their memories of those first few months are likely to be altered when reflecting a year later. I'm not saying that my whopping one month spent in college qualifies me as some sort of mentor, but I have already made some investments that proved to be absolute game changers.
From freshman to freshman, here are 5 investments that will make our new lives a little more manageable:
1. A Portable Steamer
I rarely ironed my clothes at home anyways, plus, there's always that steaming your clothes in the shower trick. What I didn't expect was for the dryers to leave my clothes damp, and for each load to cost an arm and a leg. I also didn't realize how arduous the task of laundry in college is, and how often I would leave my semi-dry, clean clothes bunched up in my laundry bag before laying them out to dry or putting them away. I've since learned that practically everything needs ironing, and portable steamers are so easy that I'm not even complaining.
2. Noise Cancelling Headphones Are The New AirPods
I heard that people in college are inconsiderate of others' sleeping schedules, and that any and all noise transcends the dorm walls. I didn't believe it until I experienced it myself. The amount of nights I spent tossing and turning until 3:00 am because my neighbors decided to have an open door Minecraft party, or finally start drifting to sleep only to be woken up by someone making a phone call outside my door, has made me wonder if the walls are actually hollow.
However, noise cancelling headphones are a game changer. In fact, my roommate has trained herself to sleep on her back so that she can leave her headphones on the whole night - even when nothing is playing.
3. A Huge Water Bottle, And No, It Doesn't Have To Be A Hydroflask
I converted from a Hydroflask to my Nalgene ages ago, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Having a liter of water wherever I go enables me to stay hydrated throughout my long days, but also gives me the convenience of always having water in my room. In fact, I have a second one just in case, because the worst feeling is getting into bed only to realize you're thirsty, and will have to walk all the way down the hall to fix that.
4. A Second Pair Of Bed Linens - And Towels
The standard college packing lists always consists of these two necessities: a towel and bedding. However, they fail to mention the convenience of duplicates. Like I said, laundry is time consuming and expensive, and when you use that towel five times in a row but don't plan on doing laundry for another week - you'll wish you had a back up.
5. A Big Zip-Up Jacket That You Can Throw Over Everything
While this depends on where you go to school, in LA, one would expect the weather to be warm and comfortable. Except, when you have to walk to class at 8:00 am and sit in lectures where the AC feels like it's on 68 °F, only to walk a mile back at 1:00 pm when the heat is so strong that you have to take another shower - you realize the importance of layering. My oversized jacket is my outfit on chilly nights and my blanket in lectures - a real game changer.