Over 200 students were seen carrying heavy bags of clothes and decorating items at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Casa Bella dorms on Friday in Brownsville.

At the start of their college education, some felt anxious and others were excited to finally be living on their own. The students — some with the help of their parents — decorated rooms and listened to family advice on how to cook, manage time and even how to stay safe when walking on their own.

Elizabeth Mader, of Harlingen, who will be majoring in mass communication this semester, said she is very excited to start her college career. She will also be minoring in marketing because she said she really enjoys it and knows about the field because she helps her mother, who is a real estate agent.

“I’m a little nervous, it’s kind of scary,” she said. “I got my class schedule already and on Sunday a couple of us will go to check out the campus, that way we can see where all of our classrooms are so that we are not lost on the first day of class.”

Her mother, Becky Mader, tried to hold back her tears as she advised her daughter to stay focused and remember that she will always be there for her. Becky was helping Elizabeth move in at the dorm and both were seen decorating and organizing the room.

“I’m very excited and very nervous for her. She’s our own little girl so, this is a big step,” Becky said. “She’s our only daughter and the first one to go to college, so we are very, very proud of her and we hope the best.”

Elizabeth’s dad, David Mader, gave advice to his daughter and said he hopes she pays attention in class and never walks alone in dark alleys. He hopes Elizabeth makes the best out of her college experience and trusts her instincts.

“Always go with your gut, don’t walk down dark alleys, pay attention in class and not necessarily what you think is important is what everybody else will think is important,” he said.

Another family also starting a new chapter in their life was Hanna Bredemeyer, of Mart, Texas, and her mother Tracy Bredemeyer.

Hanna will be a psychology major this fall and after finishing her undergraduate courses she plans on continuing her education with graduate school. She is at UTRGV with a full-ride scholarship.

“I think my next years are going to be exciting, it will be weird to be so far away from home but it will be fun and I’ll make the best of it,” she said. “My mom made sure I learned how to cook and do my laundry when I was younger. I’m not the best cook but apparently my roomie is.”

Tracy said she is happy her daughter has roommates so they can help each other with what they need and she advised her daughter to take advantage of the scholarship and study really hard, but to also enjoy herself in her college years.

“I’m very excited, she’s coming down here from where I grew up and her grandparents live down here, so she’s kind of coming back to her roots,” Tracy said. “It’s going to be a great experience for her and I think it is nice having all the girls together because somebody is going to know how to do something.”

Housing Coordinator Kelia Lopez said she is very excited about the upcoming freshmen and she hopes they take advantage of all the events and opportunities available for them. Lopez said time goes by really fast when you’re in college and she advises students to be involved on campus.

“We are super excited. We’ve been working really hard these past couple of weeks to get all of our rooms ready and get all of the activities for today that we have planned. We’re going to have a super fun day,” she said. “We pretty much go into everything they need to know about UTRGV and living on campus.”

Residence assistants said they remember what it’s like to move in on a campus not knowing anyone and feeling homesick and nervous.

“We’re getting a whole bunch of new people who’ve never lived by themselves before so it’s a lot of fun meeting new people and trying to help them navigate to what college is going to be like,” Student Residence Assistant Enrique Granados said. “I didn’t know anyone when I came here. I came here by myself not knowing anything and by going to events that housing hosts really got me to meet new people.”

Alfredo Alcantar, a student residence assistant, said the best advice he gives to new students is to go to events on campus to meet new people.

“You may be coming here by yourself, but yes, do go to the events we are promoting for students because I also came here by myself as well and if it wasn’t for this type of events I wouldn’t have met the people I know now.”