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Must-haves for your first year at Rochester

When I began asking around for suggestions from students for this post, the first person to reply was Jamie Rubinstein ‘27. Their number one item they wish they brought to campus? “A straw cleaner,” they told me. Elaborating, they continued with “Mold in my water bottle.” Clean your water bottles, folks.

All in all, most of the responses I got were centered around similar areas of concern—small items that, while they may not be at the top of your mind when planning your move-in, you might wish you’d thought of bringing when you need them later.

Prepare for the dreaded shower

One of the major adjustments first-years will have to get used to after arriving on campus is sharing their space with others in their hall or floor, including communal bathrooms. Shower shoes are particularly important to protect your feet—you’ll have a dozen or so people showering in the same space, and you don’t know where they’ve been stepping. One student recommended bringing a bathrobe for walking between spaces as well.

A smaller item you might overlook is something to hang up your towels on. Emma Buller ‘26 uses command hooks (the sticky kind that go on your wall). Personally, I have one of those towel racks that’s supposed to hang over your door. Most of the doors in the dorms don’t have enough room for a rack to hang over them, though, so I hang it on the end of my bed instead. Either method works, but make sure you have something—otherwise, you’ll end up with a big pile of wet towels on your floor.

For decorators

Emma recommends bringing command strips for hanging things on your walls. “I am a poster fiend,” she says, and “command strips are the way to go to hang up posters.”

Keep in mind, however, that the University advises caution when using command strips: “3M command strips may be used,” according to the Reslife website, “but they can cause damage if not applied and removed properly; white poster putty or blue masking tape (commonly known as painters’ tape) are preferred.” Whatever method you choose, always be careful not to damage the walls or paint—you can get billed for any damage to your room at the end of the year!

Sue B residents take heed!

One resident of Susan B. Anthony Hall suggested incoming first-years assigned to that hall in particular—or Sue B, as we call it—may want to consider bringing slip-on footwear like sandals, or anything that lets you “go around without wearing shoes and socks.” Shower shoes can also double for this purpose. The reason for this suggestion is that Sue B residents are likely to spend more time walking around within their building than others, because Sue B is home to Hillside Market, a convenience store located on the first floor, as well as Danforth Dining Hall.

Hillside, while it may not completely replace the occasional grocery run, is well-stocked with pretty much everything you might need in a hurry, including snacks, paper towels, laundry detergent, and more. I live a frugal lifestyle and clutch my declining dollars (soon to be rebranded as “dining dollars”) like some precious inventory item in an RPG that I’m definitely going to “use later,” so I don’t visit Hillside too much myself, but I know plenty of people who do. If you live in Sue B, you could spend a whole weekend without leaving the building if you really wanted to, drifting through the hallways and subsisting on Hillside and Danforth alone. Residents of Genesee and the freshman quad, alas, are not so lucky, and must (as they say) “touch grass.”

For culinary connoisseurs

Emma’s final word of advice was to bring a minifridge to your dorm to store drinks and snacks. Out of all the first-year residence halls, only Genesee has a communal fridge, so this item can be vital, especially if you plan on cooking at school. Make sure your fridge meets the University guidelines and doesn’t exceed 4.3 cubic feet in size, however. Additionally, senior Renée Taillie suggests having a microwave (which may not exceed 900 watts) for heating up food. In general, the first-year residence halls do have communal microwaves available, so this would mainly be useful if you want a separate microwave for personal use.

If you don’t have appliances that meet the specifications, another option is to rent a MicroFridge—which includes both a minifridge and a microwave—through the University for $229.00.

Final words of wisdom

Lastly, when I reached out to current freshman Peter Smith about their must-haves for incoming students, they had only two words to offer: “razer scooter [sic].” As someone whose only on-campus scooter experience involved riding a friend’s scooter down the first-year hill in the rain with very little ability to brake, I can only say that at least when it’s not raining, the University seems to be quite the scootable campus, and if you are a scooter enthusiast, the opportunity to scoot should not be missed. Cheers.

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