Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Orienting ourselves as college parents

Last week we left the motorhome at the RV Park and travelled to East Lansing for Bryce’s Academic Orientation Program, as well as our Parent Orientation Program.  Following Orientation, we were going to spend the rest of the week with my mom, so we packed up everything we needed and closed up the slides on the motorhome. 

Then, as long as we had all the slides in, we decided to move over about 18” from the edge of the concrete pad.  When we had arrived on May 1st, we parked right along the edge of the concrete, but that meant our drivers side slides were over the grass – which added challenge for the mowers, and made us a little unlevel, as the concrete is sloped slightly at the edges.  Moving over fixed up all of that.  Tom left the water and sewer disconnected, but kept the motorhome plugged in for the refrigerator and A/C.  OK, with that work done, we were ready to go!

Check-in was at 8:30 Monday morning, so we left on Sunday afternoon and booked a hotel for the night.  There’s not much to do in a hotel room, so once we got settled into our room, we went in search of dinner, and some shopping.

East Lansing is “Spartan Country”, and you sure can tell . . . we found the Sparty Hall of Fame Cafe where we had a tasty dinner and enjoyed looking at all of the memorabilia. 

Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe

Sparty Department


Even the local Walmart had a Spartan department!  Bryce found a Spartan tank top, which he’s been wanting for a while.

After shopping, we treated ourselves to some frozen yogurt . . . YUM!

Menchie's after dinner

Bryce’s Orientation was two days, including an overnight stay in the dorms, but the Parent Orientation was just the first day.  On Monday morning, we parked in the designated parking structure, and from there we went our separate ways.  Bryce gathered with the other incoming freshman and the student orientation staff, and Tom & I walked to the Kellogg Conference Center for our program with the rest of the parents.

Welcome Parents!

Our day consisted of a series of presentations --


Academics, Finances, Safety, Transportation, Medical, Residential and Food Service . . . the list goes on and on!

We took a break for lunch, and many of the parents (including us) decided to try out the dining hall just across the street from the Conference Center.  It’s quite the dining hall – a major step up from what I had in college!  For $6 per person, you had a multitude of selections – homestyle foods, asian, italian, grilled, pizza, salad bar – and no limit to what you could take.  Actually, there is one limiting factor – TIME!  This is such a popular dining hall, you could end up waiting in line at a particular station for 20 – 30 minutes!  I chose shorter lines (salad bar and italian), but Tom went for the stir-fry, which had a ridiculously long line.  I had my food, spent 10 minutes looking for a place to sit, and had started eating before he even got his food.

It’s definitely not the closest dining hall to Bryce’s dorm, but I’m sure he’ll go there sometimes . . . I recommended going for dinner, when he has plenty of time!

We won!!


After lunch, we went back for more presentations (arriving a little late!), and managed to win a prize!  Yay!








We were almost done with presentations when suddenly we heard an alarm!  Everybody was looking around, wondering what it was, when a voice came over the loud-speaker, saying that it was, indeed, a fire alarm and we would have to evacuate the building!

Just a short delay!

We waited out on the sidewalk while the fire department checked everything out, finally determining that it was a false alarm and that we could go back inside.

With that little delay over, we finished up the presentations and then walked over to the dorm, Wonders, where there was a resource fair going on. 

Wonders - where Bryce will live

Wonders just happens to be the dorm where Bryce is going to live this year.  It looks like a nice building from the outside, and the common areas appear to have been updated recently.  I’m not sure what the rooms look like, though.

Michigan State is broken up into 5 “neighborhoods”, each with their own dorms, dining halls, classrooms, tutoring centers, libraries, medical clinics, fitness centers and other amenities.  The common areas in the neighborhood are housed in what is referred to as an “Engagement Center”.

Neighborhood Engagement Center


Wonders is part of the South Neighborhood, which was Bryce’s first choice due to its close proximity to the buildings where he is likely to have classes, and the athletic facilities.

The Football Stadium

He's close to the stadium

The Breslin Center – where basketball is played

Breslin Center

Tom and I spent some time in the Resource Fair, talking to several organizations and picking up lots of freebies for Bryce, and then realized we had just 30 minutes until the last dorm tour.  We wanted to see the quad-style rooms, since that is what Bryce will be living in, and the building that was open for tours was all the way on the opposite side of campus.  We could have gone back and got our car, driven to another parking structure, and then walked to that dorm, but we decided it would probably be just as fast to walk from where we were. 

WOW – not sure that was a good move!  This is a REALLY big campus, and we just barely got there by the 6pm tour time!  We made it though, and the orientation staff welcomed us with bottles of water . . . and we got our own private tour!

So, this is the style of room that Bryce will have, but it’s in a different building, so I’m not sure if they look quite the same.

I kindof hope the hallways in Bryce’s building are a little more sedate than these!




The rooms don’t look too bad, although I think my rooms in college were bigger.

Typical dorm room











The bathrooms are pretty basic, not even a countertop!


Pretty basic bathroom

They do have some extra storage space,

Storage Space

and with the beds lofted like they are, there’s room for a futon and TV, frig & microwave.  They do have cable and internet in the rooms (which I didn’t have in college), and free laundry facilities.  I think there is also a common kitchen somewhere in the dorm, but I’m not sure that gets much use with the unlimited dining options they have!

After our tour, Tom and I walked back to our car, and our Parent Orientation Day was complete.  Well, at least I have a pretty good idea of where things are on campus now!  I could find my way around if I had to!

Dinner - finally!


It was almost 8 o’clock when we finally found a place for dinner – late dinner for us – but we were so relieved to be sitting down!

The food was really good, too!

I’m not sure if we’re quite ready for Bryce to leave the nest, but we are well educated on the ways of Michigan State University, so I guess that’s all we can ask for right now!


  1. OH gosh, you'll be losing another son soon I guess. The campus looks very nice, but that dorm room looks awfully tiny, but Bryce will be used to small living quarters, won't he?

  2. The Empty Nest Syndrome is better than it sounds and you will be there to give your boys plenty of advice when they ask. From the looks of Tom all that walking really worked up his appetite.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


Thanks for reading! We'd love to hear your comments!