This post was originally submitted on 17 October 2016 on Dear First Generation Students. The original post can be found here.
By Nick Lee
The sight of bustling college students hurrying to move college materials from their cars to their resident halls. Cries and shrieks of family members leaving their son and/or daughter behind, a moment they wish would never come for them. For others it was a sigh of relief that their child could potentially do bigger and better things than they could ever do. Transportation & Parking staff waving their orange sticks, directing traffic and answering questions. The goosebumps rising on my arms as I knew this was going to be that day where I would leave my family for a long time, pursuing to do something to better myself and the community. A breath of fresh air. This was the first day all my senses came to life. This was my first day of college, Move-In Day.
As I arrived on campus with my family, we were met with a barrage of cars lined up, ready to get into the only entrance of the campus. UC Merced, here I was to spend the next 4+ years with you. As we entered we were immediately directed into a parking lot. We were told, “You have 15 minutes to park over there. Then you gotta move your car over there,” pointing in several directions. As we parked and began to unload, I began my mission to receive my keys. I searched through the campus, map in hand, looking for buried treasure. Finally, after searching for a good 15 minutes, I found the location. I signed the papers and received my keys. The first set of keys to my first ever resident hall. I checked out my room, 4th floor. I opened it only to be welcomed to a Quadruple Room, filled with a massive amount of space, a story for a later time. One of my roommates had already moved in, but he was not present. I ran back down stairs, excited. I hurried my family along to move my things inside. My mini fridge, laptop, bed sheets, lamp, printer, laundry basket, and my clothes. My new room, my new home. And there I stood, proud to be in college, living on-campus.
As I unpacked my roommate walks in. We introduce ourselves and begin to have a conversation. It was strange. It was awkward. The day was too full of excitement and sadness to really get to know each other. My roommate left with his parents and I sat in my room with my family. My parents told me about the dangers of the world but to experience it and be careful. I escorted them downstairs and we finally said our goodbyes. My parents hugged me, the first of many as I began college, and told me that if I needed anything to let them know. I waved for the last time before they left in their cars. As the day progressed and I managed to unpack all of my things, the sun had set and I was ready for bed. The first time I was sleeping alone without my parents in the next room, or my brother or sisters living a couple of minutes away.
Move-In Day showed me something more than accustoming to the college life. Move-In Day wasn’t about networking or finally having freedom from your parents. Move-In Day is about self-realization and understanding that once your family leaves, you never know when the next time you’ll see them again. This day helped me understand the importance of my family and to never take for granted things back at home. Even as a first-generation low income college student with nothing of material value, my family became valuable to me. My advice to you? Hug your family members. Tell them you love them. Because you can never journey this experience on your own.