Welcome! All of us at Sweet Briar are excited to greet you when you arrive on campus. As you wrap up your summer, you’re probably looking around your room wondering, “How am I going to take all of this stuff to college?” As you stare into the bottom of your suitcases, here are the five most important things you need to pack:
Sense of Wonder
College will be a magical and memorable part of your life. Wake up every morning with appreciation for the beauty that surrounds you, solidarity with the community that uplifts you, and gratitude for the multitude of opportunities at hand. Believe in what is possible, and then make it real.
Spirit of Exploration
Diversity comes in many forms, and “winning” a debate is never as rewarding as sustaining an open dialogue. Seek to understand the beliefs and values of those around you. Try new foods. Step out of your comfort zone. Take risks and fail often.
Essence of Courage
Know that you are good enough and that you belong here. No Vixen is a mistake. Hold your head up high and show us your fierce face. There will be tough days ahead, but you are strong enough to overcome these obstacles.
Capacity for Growth
You will make mistakes. You will offend people. Your deepest beliefs will be challenged. These experiences are only valuable if you reflect on and learn from them. You will not leave Sweet Briar the same person who arrived this August.
Cosmic stones and radioactive goo don’t make superheroes, but a commitment to helping others does. Partner with the person struggling in a class you’re succeeding in. Advocate for the person whose voice isn’t being heard. Comfort the person who feels lost or alone. But don’t do any of these things for glory or notoriety. Do them out of love and humility.
If you can pack these five things, college is gonna be easy. However, you’re still staring at an empty suitcase, so here’s a more practical list.
A Happy, Comfortable You
Bring plenty of clothes you can mix and match regardless of weather or occasion — and don’t forget rain boots! For class, think one step above pajamas and two steps below fancy. Be prepared to add and remove layers to stay comfortable. You will dress up from time to time, so don’t forget your white dress — plus something in which you can hit the sack, hit the gym and hit the town.
A Warm and Cozy Bed
You spend a third of your life in bed. Soft sheets, warm blankets, fluffy pillows and cushioned mattress toppers will all help you wake up refreshed and energized.
Reminders of Home
Bring pictures of friends and family. Is there a special hot sauce you can only get in Texas, coffee from Seattle or maple syrup from Vermont? Bring three bottles. It might be your state flag, a local band’s music or your grandmother’s blanket. Find the thing that connects you to home and put it in your suitcase.
Things That Make You Feel at Home
One day, you’ll stop calling it “my room” and start calling it “home.” Whatever you need to feel that way, bring it. Stuffed animal you’ve had forever? Your favorite poster or painting? Favorite mug? Bring it.
Something to Share
What’s your special talent, secret hobby or strangely specific passion? Magic tricks? “Dungeons & Dragons”? Do you love the “Golden Girls” more than anything on earth? Bring your tricks, your d20s and your DVD box set. Bring them and find someone to share them with.
I hope your suitcase is starting to fill up. There’s plenty more you’ll need, but all of it is available at the local Target, so don’t sweat the small stuff.
This blog post was first published in August 2018. We decided to re-run it this year because it’s timeless and simply perfect!
Vic Lindsay is the director of student life. He came to Sweet Briar in 2018 after spending eight years on the founding team at New York University Abu Dhabi. He loves comic books and scuba diving and lives on campus with his wife, Beth, and two young daughters.