Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Packing for Kenyon: What to bring and not to bring to Gambier

Benjamin Jagolinzer
August 15, 2017

First-year move-in is right around the corner, and it’s almost time for members of Kenyon’s Class of 2021 to begin packing for their inaugural year of college. It can be stressful trying to cram one’s entire life into a few suitcases to bring to school. But with two years on the Hill under my belt, I’m here to tell you that less is more when it comes to packing. So just what should come to Gambier and what should stay at home?


1. Posters. A dorm room in the first-year quad or in Mather and McBride Residence Halls can look bare without a little decoration. Posters can spice up a room, bring a little piece of home, and provide a conversation starter for neighbors and friends. (Haven’t found the perfect poster yet? Have no fear — there’s a poster sale on campus at the beginning of every year!)

Posters in a dorm room

2. Reading pillow. This is a personal favorite of mine. I acquired one of these much too late, my sophomore fall, and it changed my life. With the limited space in many dorm rooms, beds become couches, chairs, study spaces, etc. The reading pillow thoroughly enhances this experience by providing enough support to keep you upright while browsing Facebook, writing that paper or catching up on textbook reading.

Reading pillow

3. String lights. Many first-year dorms can be a bit dim. String lights can brighten things up during the winter months, where extra light is a hot commodity.

String lights decorating a wall

String lights also brighten up the WKCO radio station (above a drawing of Rudolph the On-Air Light Reindeer).

4. Speakers. College is a fantastic time to expand, refine and celebrate your music tastes. Your iPhone speakers can only fill a room so well. Invest in a Bluetooth wireless speaker, or if you’re an audiophile like me, grab your turntable and an old set of speakers and let your whole hall know that you have Led Zeppelin’s Greatest Hits on vinyl.


5. A little piece of home. It can be a photograph, stuffed animal, musical instrument or anything else under the sun. The transition to college is full of adjustments and unknowns, and the value of a piece of home cannot be understated. For me, that something sentimental from my small town in Maine came from a photograph of me and my best friends from high school. 

Illustration of the concept of "home"

6. Cold medicine/mini first-aid kit. This is a little different than the previous items mentioned, but equally if not more important. A first-aid kit can be somewhat of an afterthought for college first-years, but luckily my mom encouraged me to bring one. You never know when you’re going to scrape your knee at soccer practice or just need a Nyquil during the Kenyon Krud season.

First-aid kit

Leave at home:

1. Silverware/Plates. I made this mistake during my first year at Kenyon. I bought plates and fancy silverware for dorm life. Little did I know that plates and silverware must be washed after every use! For you and your roommates’ sakes, buy a pack of paper plates and plastic cutlery at the beginning of the year. It will make your snacking and adjustment to dorm eating that much easier.


2. Expensive dorm furniture. Big box stores and other internet guides will tell you that expensive chairs and futons are all the rage. Before you make that big purchase, just know that Kenyon has a rummage sale at the beginning of the academic year with just about everything you might need. When seniors or other students leave behind furniture or decorations, they get processed and resold at the rummage sale. You can often find great deals on lightly used furniture.


3. Excessive clothing. It can be tough to say goodbye to that shirt or jersey that has been with you since middle school. But the fact of the matter is you can’t bring all your clothes with you to Kenyon. In my experience, 50% of the clothes you bring will sit in the bottom of your drawers unworn until it’s time to head home for the year. Save yourself the trouble and bring only what you think you will really need.


4. Expectations and worries. College can be the best four years of your life, but don’t worry if the start is a little rocky. This is normal! The transition is probably the biggest one you’ve ever undertaken: New people, friends, professors, food … the list goes on and on. Take everything day by day and stay grounded. Once you’re comfortable on the Hill, you can truly experience why Kenyon and its community is so special.

Sign reading "no worries, mate"

With just a week and a half until I return to Gambier, I can barely contain my excitement, and I envy the first-years who get to arrive before we upperclass students return! I hope this list has given a little more perspective on how to pack for your first year on the Hill. Enjoy Orientation, and I can’t wait to meet you all very soon.