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Students shake off jitters and start unpacking at Gonzaga move-in day

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 24, 2018, 9:28 p.m.

Move-in day at college is supposed to be a little stressful. There’s the packing and hauling, the long drive, the new environment, and at the end of it all, the hard goodbyes.

Not the case for Ameena Dawes. The 18-year-old from Houston didn’t arrive at Gonzaga University laden with luggage like many of her peers. No van. No boxes. No bags.

With a rolling suitcase in hand and a bright pink neck pillow strapped to her backpack, she was still shaking off the jet lag Friday morning after flying to Spokane on Thursday and staying in a hotel. Scanning a grassy area where soon-to-be students and their parents paced frantically, she took a moment and gathered herself.

“My parents said to get some wind under your wings,” the freshman said. “I’m excited to get started.”

For the hundreds of other students surrounding her, it was business as usual moving in on the first weekend of college. Nathan Hahne, an 18-year-old who loves soccer, sat on a concrete bench and looked through an orientation packet as the morning wind ruffled his hair.

“I’m doing pretty well right now,” he said. “I like the atmosphere. Spokane is nice.”

As cars pulled up to curbs and parking spots, swarms of sophomores and upperclassmen ran to greet them. Some talked to the new students while others eagerly grabbed at moving materials and hauled them into the awaiting rooms.

Sophomores Katie Bull and Olivia Stormont said they were glad to help, even if only to show arriving students that homesickness will eventually subside.

“I was so stressed back then,” Stormont admitted. “You’re moving your entire life into a 10-foot by 10-foot box.”

Students weren’t the only ones feeling like worrywarts. Seated outside of her grandson Paal Berdal’s residence hall, where her equally worried daughter was helping him set up his room, Nelda Gutzman said she’d miss having him around.

“I can understand that he’s eager enough to go,” she said of 18-year-old from Victor, Idaho. “But it will be lonesome without him.”

Adding a bit of chaos to this year’s mix was the closure of Sharpe Avenue, which runs east-west along the north side of campus, due to city street construction.

Kelly Alvarado-Young, director of first-year experience at Gonzaga, said organizers planned ahead for the loss of the street, which would typically feed cars into residence halls on north campus.

“It’s been going great,” she said. “We tried very hard to make sure there was minimal impact.”


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