What (not) to bring
Hello all pre-fresh-folk! Orientation starts in just under a month, which means it's time for you to start packing for college. Deciding what to take, what to buy once you get there, and what to leave behind can be a very stressful process, as can packing itself, so I'm going to walk you through it.
You want to scrounge up large, decent cardboard boxes to pack everything in. You can buy these at UPS stores and similar places, or you can go to grocery stores and ask if they have any in the back.
Then tape them shut with good-quality packing tape. Do the corners and sides, as well, to be sure it won't pop open at the weak points.
If you're sending out boxes of books, paper, DVDs, CDs, etc--which I would recommend keeping to a minimum--you can save money by shipping it via media mail. Just don't put it in a Priority Mail box, and be sure you write "MEDIA" all over it. Don't put anything in here that you've written in or would be heartbroken to lose. It's much cheaper than paying for first-class, especially since that kind of thing is heavy.
Now, don't worry, it won't actually take you a month to pack. The lengthy part of the process is the decision-making bit, because there are so many unknown variables: how much storage space will you have? What's the weather going to be like? How much soap/deodorant/coffee do you go through in four months? Will it be cheaper to get there? Will people appreciate your witty t-shirts?
(Answers: storage space depends on what kind of room you have; Oberlin is humid sometimes, gorgeous others, and freezing in winter; I don't know how fast you use up your soap, but bring lots of it; most things are cheaper to get on sale at home and ship ahead; there will be at least one person on campus who will appreciate your shirt.woot! or Questionable-Content-inspired garments, and if you're wearing a Firefly BROWNCOAT shirt, you just may get random hugs.)
Some things you may want to buy in Elyria--the nearest town to Oberlin with a Target and Wal-Mart--but if you ship ahead, you can hunt for better deals. If, like me, you live on the West Coast and are flying out alone to start you college career, you have no choice but to ship everything in advance, and it'll take a while, so get started now. (Don't worry, the mail room will let you borrow a dolly to get all your boxes to your room.)
Obviously, I can't answer all of your questions for you, but I can give you a basic grounding and perhaps remind you of some things you'd otherwise forget to bring.
--An interesting note on clothing: one of my professors in Psychology 100 remarked that, during the first week or so, she can always pick out the freshmen--they dress differently. Then the subliminal social pressure of Oberlin tends to push them closer toward the stylistic norm. This isn't to say that all Obies dress alike (certainly not!), but there are certain patterns.
For instance, you don't see people wearing sweatpants a lot (well, maybe in the dorm lounges, but not in classes or at lunch). Granted, this could be because sweats are too hot on warm days and the wind goes right through them on cold days, but that's not all. I don't see a lot of stylishly-ripped-up jeans, either, and not many hoodie sweatshirts--other kinds of jackets, yes, but very few hoodies. I've even found myself affected by this slightly: I tend to look more neat, wear more tailored clothes, and wear a little bit of makeup almost every day. Cue Twilight Zone music.
Bring instruments, too! I forgot to take a picture of my violin, but if you can transport it, by all means bring your guitar, flute, cello, lap-harp, vuvuzela, didgeridoo, etc. Many people who are not in the Con play instruments. Join us. (I heard a rumor that there actually is someone on campus with a digeridoo.)