UMD International Students “Buy” Furniture at Campus “Free Store”

International students get the first pick at UMD's "free store."

DULUTH, Minn.- College move in is still a week or two away at most universities. But international students at UMD are already on campus, learning their way around before the start of the school year.

Many students from far away leave home with very little. UMD is helping these students furnish their dorm rooms with recycled items at something they call their “sustainability free store.”

“In the inventory we have about 4500 items; kitchen supplies, bedding, mirrors, decor. Anything you might have forgotten on the way into college,” Jonna Korpi, student activities coordinator  for the sustainability office, said.

It’s paradise for a broke college student- The UMD sustainability free store is where students can donate their unwanted items for someone else to use.

This is how it works: Each student gets to pick four items. Bigger items like shelves count as one. Smaller items like cups and towels count as four for one.

The items are on a first come, first served basis, and international students get the first pick.

“The international students that come to UMD, whether they’re grad students or undergrad students, get to shop early because typically they’re coming with just a suitcase or two and so usually they need a little bit more stuff to get started while they’re here,” Korpi said.

Sebastián Cordero is a second year international student. He went into the free store with a plan.

“Go with things that are going to be expensive in the store because that’s going to save you a lot of money. And things to decorate your room, make it feel more at home. That helps a lot, your mentality for your first year,” Cordero said.

Sebasitián picked out pots and pans and cooking utensils, things that made him think of his home in Costa Rica.

“We cannot bring a lot from home. And it’s hard to get stuff that reminds us of home. For me, cooking reminds me of home. So it’s just a great opportunity for all of the students, for international students, too,” Cordero said.

After the international students make their selection, the free store is open to all other students for one day only. This year, that’s August 22.

“Whatever we have left, we’ll donate to area non–profits– probably Goodwill, Savers or the Damiano Center depending on what the items are,” Korpi said.

It goes to show, one man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure.

“We’re teaching students that you don’t need to buy everything new. Things have a second life,” Korpi said.

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