Another week, another trip to Target. Seriously, I have a problem. But I noticed a whole lot of college freshman doing some school/dorm shopping with their parents. It was quite cute, actually. A lot of exhausted parents were strolling through the aisles with single-cup coffee makers, new bedding, and plastic little bookshelves. I heard one girl tell her defeated dad, “But dad, I NEED a blender! I can make my own smoothies in the morning!” Okay, honey. Judging by the space-saving materials your poor dad has bought for your inevitably lofted bed, there’s not going to be room for a blender. Priorities, Honey. Priorities.
I remember getting all the fun new stuff for college. I loved shopping at the Union Bookstore in Iowa City for my giant textbooks, my color-coordinated folders, and several thousand highlighters. I had a whole new basket of toiletries for my shower caboodle thing, new shower shoes, towels, everything. I brought all my new stuff to my new school and set up shop.
Cue: worst experience ever. I applied late to U of Iowa (people will tell you that I thought I was applying to Iowa STATE, not University of Iowa, but those people are jerks. Maybe they were right, but they’re jerks) and therefore was assigned to Temporary Housing. Temp Housing is just a room that is technically a shared lounge for the whole floor. They cram some people in it, and as other unfortunate freshman drop out, or don’t show up, members of Temp Housing are reassigned to the abandoned rooms. I walked into the 4th Floor Lounge in Burge Hall. It looked like an insane asylum. There were 6 bunk beds with plastic mattresses on them, 6 dressers, and mini-kitchenette off to the side. There were 4 desks lined up against a wall with dividers in between them. It was…sterile. It was small. And it was empty otherwise. Because I was rushing sororities, I was a week earlier than the rest of the students.
My parents set up my cot, we chose my dresser, taped up some pictures of friends from home, and then it was time for them to take off in the empty conversion van. I realize this sounds pathetic, but I cried like a giant baby. I begged my parents not to leave me alone there. I said I would clean my room every day if they took me home. I wasn’t ready for college. I would return all my new stuff if they would let me get back in the van. “Don’t leave me here alone!” I sobbed.
During this infantile breakdown, the first roommate, Kristen, showed up with her mom. She was going through Rush as well. After they set up her stuff, they hugged and off her mother went. Then Kristen bounced off to go shopping downtown. I was like “UM! YOUR MOTHER JUST ABANDONED YOU!”
It was bad. Then, Rush started. I stopped calling home and crying every night because I was too busy hanging out with my Rush group, and staying up late eating Mac and Cheese out of a hot pot debating which house had better GPAs and parties. I would guess it took about 2 weeks for me to forget my family altogether. Pictures of home were replaced by pictures of my new “sisters”, all my books and folders were tossed onto the floor as we converted the desks into make-up stations, and the only crying I did was when a roommate would be reassigned to another dorm. I discovered Hawkeye football. And tailgating. Oh yeah, there were some classes in there too…
I only lived in the dorms for a year (most people at Iowa only live in for a year, two tops). It was a great year. Hallways full of open doors, people walking in and out of everyone‘s room, guys and girls chatting outside the showers (co-ed floors=very Ally McBeal-ish bathroom situation). I loved it. Moving into my first apartment after that was never quite as much fun. Bills? What?
So anyway, back in Target, this girl and her poor dad were debating the blender for a good 5 minutes before compromising on a Magic Bullet. The dad tossed it in the cart, and she was going on and on about what kind of contact paper to get for her drawers. I wondered if she’d be like me or Kristen when she was left alone at college. Judging by her obvious “first time away from home” priorities, I’m guessing she’ll be a wreck like I was. Lucky girl…