Freshmen Look Out: Mattress Pads a Must for Back-to- School Bliss

    It’s that time of year again: the first week of school.
    For some, this signifies an unwelcome kick back into lectures and
    exams. For others, it recalls the overwhelming excitement that comes
    with organizing fresh school supplies. And for others still, the start
    of school means an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones.
    But just as the start of each elementary school year was marked by that
    awkward photo opportunity in the front yard, the start of college each
    fall is marked by big cardboard moving boxes. Whether you’re returning
    to UCSD for your sixth — and hopefully final — year or you’re a
    not-yet-so-jaded freshman, chances are that between buying books and
    mingling with friends, you’ll spend these next few days unpacking.
    I’ve already navigated the car-packing, heavy-shit-carrying,
    deep-cleaning, goodbye-saying chaos of moving six times. And if there’s
    one thing I’ve learned — well, other than don’t try to hide a dog in a
    no-pets apartment — it’s to invest in a foam mattress pad. No
    seriously, living on campus likely means a decade-old dorm bed. And if
    you’ve recently moved off campus, you’re probably like me and opted for
    the cheapest thing available. A foam pad transforms either of these
    into an instant naptime sanctuary.)
    But aside from that, I’ve also learned of a magical little slice of
    Sweden, right here in San Diego. I’d never had the IKEA experience
    before moving down to college, but woah — was I in for a treat. With
    countless, colorful showrooms to wander through, its own restaurant and
    products all named things like Fritz, Norden and Ektorp, the one-stop
    Swedish furniture shop is eerily similar to an amusement park.
    The gilded entrance of yellow and blue leads shoppers up a flight of
    stairs to the second floor and beginning of the Swedish tour. Shoppers
    take in rows upon rows of kitchen tables, beds and couches in larger
    themed areas — each lined with ornamental example rooms — as they wind
    through a neatly-decorated adventure maze. (Think of waiting in line
    for Space Mountain or the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.)
    But the fun has only just begun! Once you’ve made it through the
    top-floor labyrinth and around to the second flight of stairs, you
    might be a little overwhelmed, so take a moment to collect yourself and
    grab some authentic Swedish cuisine at the mid-way restaurant.
    When you’re done, it’s time to move down to the bottom floor where the
    hands-on part of your IKEA experience really begins. The lower level of
    the store is similar to the top in its adventure-maze-like setup. But
    instead of just looking at all the pretty decor possibilities, now you
    get to rifle through everything you didn’t even know you needed until
    you saw it. Bins of closet and desk organizers, floppy-rubber ice cube
    trays, fake flowers, eight-legged octopus hangers and more — the
    chatchkies are endless!
    And just as you reach the end of that awesome home-accessory jungle,
    you’re in for one more treat: the furniture pickup warehouse. Remember
    all those themed rooms you traveled through way back on the top floor?
    Now it’s time to go get the boxed and dissembled versions of your
    favorite furniture to take home. (Think of those cute souvenir shops
    that line Disneyland’s Main Street.)
    IKEA even provides special carts to help transport your new boxes to the cashier station and out to your car.
    As you make your way to the exit, sighing happily after a long and
    exhausting day of fun, you pass once more by a few small racks of
    Swedish candy — mjolkchoklad yay! — and discount goodies, just for good
    Although the IKEA experience is a unique one that every person should
    have, beware: This house-wares superstore can be as terrifying as it is
    awesome. IKEA is brilliant because it isn’t an amusement park; it’s a
    store. And what might seem like an adventure maze is actually a clever,
    and sometimes intimidating, marketing scheme to lead customers past
    every item, when all they might need is a lamp.
    All I’m saying is: As the school year begins and you settle into your
    new college digs — perhaps setting out upon your very own IKEA
    adventure — may you be armed with strength of mind and a good foam
    mattress pad.

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