Packed among the clothes, laptops, iPads, bedding, toiletries and ramen noodles that students bring when moving away to college are reminders of the people and places they’re leaving behind. We asked readers what mementos they brought to campus as freshmen. Here are the stories they shared:
Megan Fixter ’13: A strange white clown vase that my best friends gave me for my 18th birthday. That year, we all gave each other these dollar store vases that read “I NY” even though we’re from New Jersey and bought the gifts here. It started as a joke—because the vases are kind of scary and hideous—but the vases turned into symbols of our friendship and reminders of home. Each of my friends brought their vase to college with them; I still have mine to this day.
Leandro Gomes Domingos, exchange student: A hat, known commonly as a chapéu de cangaceiro. The cangaceiro were bandits who took justice into their own hands at the beginning of 20th century in northeast Brazil. I come from that area—Natal, Rio Grande do Norte—and there, in the inner cities, it’s common to see these hats. They’re made of goat leather and protect cowboys (vaqueiros) as they pass through thorn bushes to retrieve lost cattle.
Elizabeth Livingston ’03: I brought my moon-and-stars throw blanket, which I used as a bedspread and cozy wrap.
Joshua Kocses ’01: I lived in Townhouses West as a freshman, since I had already served in the Marines and was 21. I brought four Marshall 4″ x 12″ guitar cabs with matching 100-watt tube and solid state heads; eight rack-mounted 1,600-watt amplifiers; crossovers; three racks of effects; 43 guitars; and a 19-piece drum set.
Gabby Lauda ’16: I had all my high school classmates sign my graduation cap. When I moved into my dorm room, I brought the cap with me and hung it over my bed. It was a great reminder of old friends while making new memories and friends in college!
Mementos by the numbers
Percentage of respondents who submitted photos of their mementos.
Percentage of respondents who brought something “stuffed” to campus.
Number of mementos named for a Beatle. Dana Dabek ’04 brought a teddy bear named for Paul McCartney.
Clown vase and chapéu de cangaceiro illustrations by Ian Dodds. Beatles art by Sergey Goryachev/Shutterstock.com