Bedbugs and My First Day of College

Robyn Borstelmann, Alumni Writer, Class of '16

When you’re about to enter college, you will hear these six words more than any others: college is nothing like high school. I’ve been in college for just over a month now and I can wholeheartedly support this claim. Your professors don’t take attendance and they don’t seem to care as much if you’re late to class. You don’t need permission to use the bathroom and, better, you can go without a hall pass. Classes aren’t forty minutes long; they’re about an hour and a half. Some weekdays you’ll be in a classroom for six hours, other days you’ll spend sleeping until way past noon.

With all these drastic changes soon to be made to your daily life, people can’t seem to offer you enough advice about the future. Everyone will warn you about the massive workload given to college students. They will advise you to manage your time wisely and make sure to always put school work before your social life because, in all honesty, college is like one big sleepover, (that is, if you choose to go away for college). It is because of this that it may become difficult to choose to stay in for a night and study rather than go into town for dinner with your closest friends. I’m sure your parents have beat you to it, but I’ll say it anyway: studying is more important than partying. I’m sure they’ll also warn you not to get mixed up with the wrong crowd. It may be tempting to venture outside your comfort zone in college and in some cases a change of scenery is beneficial. But if you feel uncomfortable with your new group of friends, my advice is to find new ones. There’ll be plenty of new people to meet.

Before I entered college, I received a tremendous amount of advice about how to cope with the change, advice I didn’t even know I needed until I was given it. Because of this, I truly felt prepared by the time move-in day came and thought that I had everything under control. The sad reality is that I didn’t.

I wasn’t prepared because nobody warned me that my college dorm could possibly have bed bugs, which it did. I wish someone had though for it would have saved me an immense amount of stress on move-in day. I wouldn’t have been so taken aback when I was informed I couldn’t unpack for another two days and that my first forty-eight hours in college would be spent living out of storage bins. Also, nobody warned me that sometimes your mailbox won’t work and, because of that, you may not receive the mandatory textbooks in time for your first class on Monday. I didn’t think it was possible to receive a faulty ID card that can’t open your dorm room door (which might not even be yours because your real one might have bed bugs). No one advised me to bring running sneakers to classes because your dorm may be a mile away from them, resulting in multiple blisters on your heel after only the first day. I wasn’t warned that having a bungee chair in your room is a bad idea because your roommate might fall out of it and nearly break her toe. I wasn’t prepared for my shower to break on the second day and to spend the remainder of the week washing my hair in the sink. My roommates and I thought we were incredibly lucky to have our own bathroom in our dorm. I guess we never addressed the consequences.

In my first week of college, there were only two things I was truly prepared for: one being how much I would miss my mom and my pets back home; the other being the dining hall food. My advice: stay away from international food night. With all that went wrong in such a short period of time, I really began to second-guess whether or not I was ready to start this chapter in my life. It wasn’t until the second or third week of school that I realized that my chaotic introduction to college life had actually benefitted me. In such a short period of time, I had alleviated my initial, trivial problems and managed to adjust to the rest. My current room is bedbug free, my mailbox opens, my ID card and my shower work and I learned to stay away from certain foods at the dining hall. Though I’m still working on it, I’ve begun to learn how to manage my time efficiently, to ensure I get enough sleep, to find a balance between friends and school work and to cope with being away from home for extended periods of time. Though these are the problems everyone will warn you about in college, they are the hardest to overcome. Bedbugs, believe it or not, have been the smallest of my obstacles.

With all of this being said, I would advise every high school senior planning on attending college next year to take every bit of advice someone gives you and store it away for safekeeping, no matter how many times someone tells you to get into better study habits or to stop procrastinating. College truly is nothing like high school. You will learn to live independently and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. You’ll make new friends. You’ll further your education. You’ll continue to grow and to mature everyday. Despite all of the warnings and advice, you are never truly prepared for college life until you’re actually living it. And, if it makes you feel more prepared for your future, if you find that on your move-in day your dorm is bedbug free, you’re already one step ahead of me.