You’ll eat most of your meals in the university dining hall. Dining halls are usually set up buffet-style, and offer a wide selection of foods for almost anyone’s needs. You’ll probably find a salad bar, as well as a steam table with hot entrees and vegetables. Many universities offer sandwiches made to order, served with soups. Depending upon the university, you may be able to select grilled fish or a stir-fry cooked to order. Some feature kiosks serving fast food like pizza, burgers and cappuccino with pastry. Even in smaller dining halls, you will usually find a choice of meals.
Many students choose to keep some food in their dorm room, for snacks. This can also be convenient for an occasional meal if you don’t want to stop studying to make a trip to the dining hall. Just don’t make a practice of eating late-night peanut butter sandwiches or pizzas in your dorm room. Weight gain is so common among first-year college students that it’s earned the title of the “Freshman Fifteen” – the extra 15 lbs. the average student gains during the first semester of college. Ignore the dining hall freezers full of ice cream most of the time, and concentrate on healthier foods.
It’s important to keep up healthy habits while you’re at school. Most universities have a health club or gym where students can swim, run on an indoor track, or lift weights. They usually also have treadmills and exercise bikes, as well as elliptical trainers. Of course, just walking or biking around a large campus will probably give you plenty of exercise. Many universities don’t allow freshmen to have cars. Some have limited parking, and don’t allow any students to have cars on campus.
Bring clothing for a variety of temperatures. In many parts of the U.S., it’s very warm during August and September, when most colleges start classes. You can expect cooler temperatures, rain and in some locations snow, before the semester ends. It’s better not to bring too many clothes, but this does require a commitment to doing your laundry every week.
Most students dress very casually for class, wearing jeans, sneakers and tee shirts or sweatshirts. One dressy outfit should be enough. Instead of spending a lot of money on clothes before you arrive, wait until you see what everyone else is wearing on campus.
You can always supplement your wardrobe with clothes purchased inexpensively near school, but avoid the overpriced tee shirts and sweatshirts in the bookstore, most of the time. It’s fun to have one with your school name on it, but silly to repeatedly spend $40 on sweatshirts just because you don’t want to do a load of laundry. You can buy a similar quality shirt at Target or Wal-mart for $10 or less. If making regular laundry visits is a problem, bring or buy a few more clothes and lots more socks and underwear. It’s also convenient to have two sets of sheets for your bed.
Many American parents joke that they only see their college-aged children when all the student’s clothes are dirty. The kids return home with bags crammed with dirty laundry, for Mom to wash. If you live in Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Morocco, having Mom do your laundry can get really expensive! There are coin-operated washer and dryers in or near your dorm, so you can wash your own clothes. Most universities today offer a combination I.D. and debit card, so there’s no need for students to carry cash. This single card works everywhere on campus, from soft drink machines to the campus bookstore.