Growing up in Central Los Angeles was a blur of celebrity sightings and beach days…. just kidding. While living on the West Coast was much more mundane than one might think,  moving to the East Coast was still a complete unknown to me, the weather being the most notable change. While moving to college is always an adjustment, there might be some unexpected growing pains for those coming from the other side of the US. Here are some tips and tricks that I wish I had known before making the trip over.

Weather: Annapolis does in fact experience seasons (I know this shouldn’t have shocked me as much as it did). Try and prep for this as best as you can. Don’t worry, though—there are plenty of beautiful days on campus, as well as the joy of your first snow day.

  • When you move in, it will be very humid and muggy, calling for extra strong deodorant and most importantly bug spray! My legs were completely bitten up within hours of arriving on campus. Anti-itch creams and soothing cortisones are a must for me because my body was unused to the mosquitos on this coast so my reactions were even more extreme.
  • Seasonal allergies also might crop up more strongly on this coast, as the new environment can cause allergies to worsen or pop up. Our campus is also much older than typical buildings in the West, so dust allergies are likely to be more active here as well. While you should always consult your doctor about medical issues, I find Allegra and Flonase are great options that you can use in conjunction that won’t make you sleepy during your 9 a.m. classes (I am talking to you Zyrtec.) You also might want to vacuum your room for those dust problems.
  • Think about bringing a small fan. While the classrooms are all air-conditioned, as are rooms, the added cooling might be helpful for people unused to higher temperatures.
  • Along that line, additional space heaters are provided by the college during the winter months, so no need to bring those. If you want to and have the means to treat yourself, I find a heated electric blanket is a super cozy (though unnecessary) treat for cold days. (As is cocoa and microwaved dining hall cookies, the best hack at SJC.)
  • I’m sure clothing is a big concern, but I would say this is the most self-explanatory. Layers are definitely important. If your pants are typically thin jeans, heat-tech leggings are a thin underlayer that will keep you very toasty. Sometimes it rains when it’s hot outside (this blew my mind), so a thin waterproof jacket that is a little oversized (so it can go over your backpack or tote bag) and goes to your knees is a must. All of your waterproof jackets should definitely go to your knees, in my opinion, as it will protect you from the elements the most. Don’t forget the small things, like waterproof shoes (my favorite, along with a lot of people on this campus, are Dr. Martens), gloves, scarves, and hats. Those t-shirts you love aren’t going to get a lot of use. Stock up on sweaters and find a thinner material that keeps you warm that you can put under your sweaters. I prefer cashmere (my skin is sensitive to wool) and found a great sweater at Goodwill. If you happen to plan on partaking in the winter intramural sports, short slipper style shoes that keep you warm are a good option, as you cannot wear your outside sneakers into the gym. This can also be convenient for things like laundry so you don’t have to lace up your boots when it’s snowing out.
  • In the winter months, something very unexpected happened: My skin became as dry as the Sahara. It was a constant struggle to deal with. My biggest recommendations is to buy a good humidifier, as the space heaters generally dry out your dorm room. Invest in new skincare. 100 Percent Whipped Shea Butter is a great option—it is a bit thick and sticky, but it definitely changed the game for me. Rosehip oil is another inexpensive option that you can find on Amazon. Buy a reusable water bottle and drink water constantly as this will help you feel less dry as well.
  • One last tip is make sure that during the winter months you check up on your vitamin D. Make sure you are getting your vitamins so you are doing your best—in terms of energy—all year long.

Actually moving:

My biggest recommendation is to try and pack light. Amazon has these massively large duffel bags called AmazonBasics Large Duffel Bags. I bought one and filled it up. There is a Bed Bath and Beyond and a Target fairly close to campus where you can buy your comforter or your fan, and BBB has a program where you can shop in your home city and they will have all your items waiting for you in whichever location you choose. You don’t pay for it until you pick it up, so if you change your mind on an item when you see your dorm room, there is no harm.

I hope this helps the transition from the West Coast to the East Coast for people feeling a little lost. The best tool in your toolbox is your ability to roll with the punches. It is a new location and experience, but part of that is knowing that you cannot prepare for everything (just like in life) and you don’t want to be able to either! The unknown can lead to richness you cannot yet imagine. Plus you are about to embark on the best educational experience of your life, so get excited!

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me at atownsley@sjc.edu.

(P.S. Call your family! You will miss them and they will miss you.)

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