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Ikea for Dummies

a/Student Living by

What does every student moving into their first apartment need, aside from a fire evacuation plan? A trip to Ikea, of course. My parents bought all of their furniture in the eighties and have unfortunately been able to make it last well into the new millennium. So, no Ikea for us. I was also led to believe that assembling Ikea furniture is comparable to wall painting on the scale of household chore fun—more enjoyable than vacuuming, but not quite as fun as hanging posters or artwork—it wasn’t the furniture I was excited for.

Going to Ikea for the first time was an event for me. My father rented an absolute tank of a vehicle to help my sister and me move our collective belongings from apartment to apartment, which of course meant we were driving in Montreal for the first time. In the end, my roommate’s iPhone was the only thing that saved us from an unexpected and inconvenient detour to Ottawa. By the time we actually made it to the store, I was confident that if we could handle the jungles of Montreal’s roadways, we could easily find our way through the store. But even if we hadn’t suddenly become master navigators, it wouldn’t have mattered because the good people of Ikea were considerate enough to include directions on the floor! We were directed through the store by a set of yellow arrows and some whimsical footprints, which only improved the experience in my opinion.

My roommates’ explanations of the pencil and note card system was quickly interrupted when I noticed a ball pit directly to the left of the entrance. I guess the idea is that people will bring their families for a fun day at Ikea, where children can don their numbered bibs and explore the toy section while adults wander through the showrooms.

By the time we made it to the cafeteria, we were ready for a break. I was delighted to find that you can purchase red wine or choose from a variety of beers should you find yourself in need of a pick-me-up during your excursion. Luckily, I didn’t have to waste any time deciding what I would get for lunch, because every single person I spoke to about my impending trip  told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to get the Swedish meatballs. One of my roommates had actually been asked by her boyfriend to bring some back with her, since he couldn’t be there himself. I’ve also heard that some university students have a habit of making the trip out with the specific intention of purchasing this Scandinavian delicacy.

Eventually we went downstairs to pick up our boxes. After a surprisingly painless round with the self-checkout, we were out the door. We had to dodge a dauntingly long line for home delivery though, so take a car. If you don’t have one, go with a friend. If you don’t have any friends with cars, make some new ones. Of course, we also had to dodge the cheap frozen yogurt, hot dogs, and cinnamon buns that tempted us as we walked to the exit. Luckily, after those meatballs, we were able to resist.

The last chapter in my Ikea saga wrapped up back at my apartment, where I assembled my first piece of Ikea furniture: a bookcase. I now fully understand why people love assembling Ikea products so much. It’s not so hard that you get frustrated with it, but it’s just difficult enough, that you feel pretty darn good about yourself by the time you’re done. Just take the pieces, put them together and you have something new. If I hadn’t assembled it, it wouldn’t be a bookcase, but just a pile of wood and  a series of screws. Definitely an ego boost.

After all that, I guess I would call myself an Ikea convert. I’m still a fan of garage sales and the occasional Walmart trip, but Ikea has definitely moved up a few notches in my book. If you have the time and the means, I would seriously recommend a trip. Even if you don’t, I can almost guarantee that somewhere on McGill Classifieds, at this very moment, someone is selling something from Ikea. Just make sure you have a screwdriver!

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