Moving into college and beginning a new chapter of your life, often far away from your family, is a huge life change. First-year students will end up living either on the First-Year Hill (Susan B. Anthony and Genesee Halls) or the First-Year Quad (Gilbert, Tiernan, Hoeing, and Lovejoy Halls). I spoke with two first-year RA’s to get some advice on important topics such as essential items to pack (and those to leave at home!), how to deal with homesickness and making friends, and what the dining situation is like.
Waleed Nadeem ‘23, was an RA in Susan B. Anthony Hall his junior year and Genesee Hall his senior year. Lily Plague ‘25 is currently an RA in Susan B. Anthony Hall and was one in the same building last year. Keep reading to hear what they have to share!
What are some essential items you need to bring to campus?
Lily: If you’re not in Genesee Hall, which is pretty likely as it’s a small dorm, you need a box fan. Without the AC, it’s an absolute necessity. Shower shoes are also essential since it’s a communal shower setup and you really don’t want to get foot fungus.
On a related note, it’s important to be up to date on your vaccinations (we’ve got a flu clinic on campus in early October) as illnesses tend to tear through residence halls. I’d recommend coming prepared with some key medicines such as NyQuil, Ibuprofen, etc. so you don’t have to go out and get it once you get sick. It can be expensive and inconvenient, so just bring it with you so you’ll already have it.
What items should you leave at home?
Lily: Please look at the prohibited fire-safety item list before leaving for school. No upward facing lamps, no candles, and no battery-pack powered string lights. Also, no fabric extension cords. Those are the most common items I have to confiscate when doing room checks.
How can you prepare for winter?
Lily: You definitely want waterproof boots. They don’t need to be full-on snow boots but something that can keep your feet warm and ideally dry. You don’t necessarily even need a full parka, but a decently warm down jacket should be enough to get you through the winter. You should also have a pair of gloves and a hat. As a first-year, you won’t need to be outside for too long since your housing is relatively close to the tunnel entrances, which connect all the buildings on the Eastman Quad.
I’d also recommend checking out a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp from Wilson Commons if you need one. They’re free!
What’s the best dining hall on campus? What’s the cooking situation like in the dorms?
Lily: I prefer Douglass Dining Hall, which is a very controversial opinion. All my residents prefer DFO (Danforth Dining Hall) and they judge me for it. I’ve noticed most people don’t cook in the dorms. You can, as there’s shared kitchens on every floor of Sue B (and the Quad) but it’s not that common. There are shuttles on the weekends to Wegmans and a small grocery store called Hillside in Sue B but it’s not necessary given the large dining plan you have to be on.
Waleed: I actually prefer the Pit over either of the dining halls. I used to eat Sol Bowl every day for lunch as it was the healthiest option there. Genesee doesn’t have any kitchens, so you have to rely on the dining halls. Since Sue B has kitchens on every floor it’s nice to sometimes make dishes from home.
Any advice on making friends as a first-year?
Waleed: If you’re in Sue B, there will be tons of people around as it’s a big dorm with six floors, the Hillside grocery store, and Danforth Dining Hall. I think everyone has a personality and style when making friends. My advice to my residents was always try to make friends around you in your dorm as it’s very convenient. If that’s not really working there’s clubs where you can meet people who are interested in the same things as you, which can be great for making long-term friends. I made a lot of my friends by going around and saying “hi!” to anyone I walked by and asking people who were eating alone if I could sit with them. As an international student, I wanted to make sure I pushed myself to make friends so I’d be less alone. It could be awkward but when it does work out, it really pays off.
How can you deal with homesickness?
Waleed: Homesickness is certainly one of the most natural things that happens to students when they leave their family for the first time for an extended period of time. I’ve noticed it tends to hit more when it gets colder and darker in October and November. It’s nice to be able to go back to see your family if possible over breaks. If that’s not possible, definitely bring things from home that will remind you of your family and set up a schedule to contact your family to help stay in touch. It’s hard and it shouldn’t be downplayed but you do get used to it over time. If you can get out and make friends early on it will help you form a support network. There’s also resources such as UCC, your RA, First-Year Fellows, and D’Lions that can help if you want to discuss anything.