One by one they arrived on the Boston campus―cars, pickup trucks, moving vans, SUVs, and motorcycles from Florida, New Jersey, Maine, New York, and California―all packed to the brim with students’ personal belongings.
And still they kept arriving, transporting parents, children, and even the family pet for the pre-fall semester ritual known as Move-in Week.
“We’re averaging close to 100 cars an hour,” says Caroline Carr as she held a clipboard by the entrance of the Columbus Avenue parking garage. The site is the primary spot where people move in for the surrounding dormitories, says Carr, who works in Alumni Relations.
On arrival, students receive a parking ticket that is kept on the vehicle’s dashboard, she explains. They load their belongings into a big rolling bin, and then head to their dorms to unpack. Students are allowed up to two people at a time to accompany them to move into their home away from home.
Plenty of advance work behind the scenes goes into preparing for their arrival. When everything clicks just right, it gets noticed.
“I had one parent say ‘You guys are doing a great job today. It’s been a very smooth process,’” says Carr, who wore a red T-shirt with “Welcome Week” in white letters on the front.
For some out-of-state parents experiencing Boston for the first time, it’s an exciting moment. But it is also a nervous one as they come to grips with saying goodbye and sending their child off for a new phase of life.
“I told her to do the right thing and to focus on what she came here for,” says Yamilka Felipe of New York, who was snapping selfies with her daughter, freshman Narelyn Villacorta, in front of a big Northeastern sign on Columbus Avenue. Her daughter, a media studies and journalism major, is looking forward to in-person learning after a senior year of high school that blended online and face-to-face studies.
Over in the parking lot near Speare Hall by Huntington Avenue, Steve Sobande, the parent of another freshman, had just pulled up in an SUV packed with his daughter Felicia’s personal effects. Sobande, a Nigerian native who now lives in Massachusetts, says he encouraged her “to stay true to herself and enjoy the college experience. And of course, study hard and do the best you can.”
Coleman Stucke was thrilled to be in an actual classroom again when he took an introduction to finance course a few weeks ago. “I’m extremely glad to be back,” says Stucke, who plays on the Northeastern men’s basketball team.
Feeling glad to be around others again is just how Leilani Potgieter, a fifth-year neuroscience major, would describe the prevailing sentiment on campus this year. Potgeiter is on co-op in the orientation office and has met many parents and students during her involvement with three orientations since 2018.
While the rituals of Move-in Week remain unchanged―clear out the car trunk and load everything into bins―there was something noticeably different about the mood this year.
“You can tell that people are excited to be back on campus and they’re excited to be in person again,” she says. “There’s definitely an energy of being excited to be back.”
Potgieter was taking selfies for others in front of the large Northeastern sign that faces Huntington Avenue near Krentzman Quad. She says people sometimes recognize her from the university’s orientation Instagram and will ask about her experience at the school.
“There was one girl who was tearing up because she was about to say goodbye to her family and they said to me ‘Oh make sure you take good care of her’ and I said ‘We will. It’s such a nice place to go to school. She’ll be OK.’”
There was plenty of hustle and bustle behind her in the quad where a giant sign that said “Welcome Husky Families” was located on the central lawn. Students sat cross-legged on the grass while others flashed V-shaped peace signs posing for photos next to cardboard cutouts of Paws, the mascot.
Once students have moved into their dorms and put their belongings away, there’s one more tradition to uphold before the long goodbye hugs with mom and dad―a trip to the bookstore for Northeastern gear. It was doing brisk business on a Tuesday morning.
That was where freshman Max Mayott was shopping with his mother. He picked up a sweatshirt and sweatpants as well as a lanyard for his Husky card. His mother, however, was still undecided.
“My older son (Daniel) just graduated from here, so I actually already have a bunch of Northeastern souvenirs,” she laughs. “But I definitely need another coffee mug and maybe I’ll pick up a couple of T-shirts for myself this time.”
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