If you are like most international students who are preparing to move into their new dorm/residence hall for their first year of international study- you are more than likely bursting at the seams with excitement. While it will be a very exciting day, it’s important to have a plan of attack!
The first thing to keep in mind about dorm move in is you will be exhausted from your long international flight. Luckily, you won’t have very much to move in since everything that you brought fit into two 50lb suitcases. While this is a bonus in the aspect that you won’t have to make several trips back to a car like most of the new arrivals (especially beneficial if you are on any floor above or below ground level), it also means that you will need to make a trip as soon as possible to the store. Most school’s will have a shuttle to take you to the store to get supplies- if not, talk to your international advisor about the best to get there since if you aren’t studying in a city, you more than likely will not be within walking distance of a store.
Typically international students are allowed to proceed with their dorm move in a few days before the domestic students are able to, so you are able to get situated without the overwhelming rush of the others and their parents who are helping them move in. Since you will have a head start, this means that once the others come- it’s the perfect time to mingle and make friends. All of your items will be moved in as they should be, so you can help others and get to know who your neighbors (and most likely friends) over the next year will be. Although frightening- this is the perfect time for meet and greets since most everyone is being introduced to the others for the first time and groups have not yet been established. If possible, try not to reside in international student housing, this way you can meet students from your host country and be more involved in the new culture.
Most dorms, including specific international student housing, have a Resident Hall Advisor (RA) or Community Advisor (CA) who is there to help you if you have a problem or any questions. While they are also there to make sure dorm rules are being enforced they are typically more helpful than anything else. Within your first week they typically host a meeting and social activity to help you become familiar with the rules and others in your hall- this is another great chance to make friends within the first month of your dorm move in.
If you have laundry, wash it before others arrive, or within the first couple of days of dorm move in. With all of the “welcome” events, students will want to dress to impress and go through outfits quickly- meaning dirty laundry will accumulate fast and laundry machines will be fully occupied. While it’s always a fall back option, you don’t want to have to resort to hand-washing your clothes in the bathroom sink.
Most importantly, explore and have fun! This will be your new home for the next semester or year, so get familiar with it so it will feel that way and you will enjoy your time as an international student in the US.