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Outta here! (Summer 1998)

While Yalies might like to believe themselves to be calm, confident, and self-assured, the truth is that we do tend to get a little nervous from time to time. And one of the few things that makes us feel more nervous than exam week is packing-up-and-moving-out time.

It is one of those cruel ironies of college life that these two stress-inducing activities coincide just as stressed Yalies are preparing to leave campus for the summer. Packing up and moving out is really a bit like one more final exam: There is a definite due date and little margin for error. What’s more, just as we cram for exams, we wait until the last minute to pack. Unlike finals, though, packing up and moving out can cause serious back injuries.

The beginning of packing up and moving out period is not listed on the official Yale College calendar. But like the changing seasons, there are visible signs that indicate that packing time is nigh. Boxes and packing tape begin to appear in the Co-op and the Bookstore, and entrepreneurs in rented trucks park around campus offering to arrange shipment of your packages. Wily upperclassmen have learned to purchase their boxes and tape well ahead of time (since the Co-op—and now the Bookstore, too—never order enough), and they know that the farther a shipping service parks from Old Campus, the less expensive it is.

Once undergraduates finally get around to packing, they become subject to what I like to call the Yalie’s Rule of Possession Multiplication. The rule has two parts: First, an undergraduate’s possessions increase in volume by 25 to 30 percent throughout the course of the year—even if nothing new has been purchased or received. Second, the result of this expansion is that you will always end up with one more carload than you had planned.

In order to avoid this extra carload, many undergraduates leave some of their possessions in the summer storage areas provided by their colleges. These are usually in the college basements, so students must weigh the hassle of sending or carting their stuff home against the likelihood that the storage rooms will flood over the summer. Going down to summer storage also means still another flight of stairs to maneuver, too. A friend of mine confided that it is when she is lugging overstuffed boxes to storage that she most misses her ex-boyfriend.

Due to the fact that I was in a class whose exam was the last one scheduled during finals week, my own packing and moving period got off to an unusually late start. But after three car trips up the shoreline with essential items, four trips to summer storage, and some serious deaccessioning of non-vital possessions, I was all packed up and moved out. Exhausted, my roommate and I made a pact that in the fall, we would return with only a few pairs of shorts and a couple of spiral-bound notebooks.

Filed under residential colleges, 1990s
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