So now is the time that many freshers are starting to pack up their stuff and head off into the great unknown – or, halls of residence. Whilst you are all busy celebrating A Level results, dreaming of your knew found freedom and wondering how many beer bongs is feasible on one night out, take note. You DO NOT want to be left bed less, food less or thread less in your first few weeks.
Of course you are not chucked into the wilderness when you start University, and yes you can grab stuff you need along the way. However, your first room at University is special, and it is going to say much about you to all the new friends you’ll be making in those first few days. It isn’t rocking science, but having a think about what to pack (and believe me, I’m not telling you what clothes to take) could be fairy useful.
Self catered or standard halls?
Many Universities give you an option of whether to live in self catered “houses” (either on campus through them, or if going to a city university, this could be a case of finding your own house share in town) or basically just a room with a shared bathroom on a corridor. As sad as it sounds I opted for the lower, painted bare brick and all. This decision is usually done on application or when you accept your place, and has an impact on what you might need.
Most self catered student houses will come with cooking equipment and basic kitchenware as standard. If you are just renting a shared house and can get in touch with your new house mates first you could find out what is there and what others are bringing so you don’t duplicate! You may want to bring your favourite mug/spoon/bowl/wine glass/colander, but don’t over pack on this stuff – there will be no room in the cupboards for 4 x entire kitchen sets.
If you are in catered halls, things are a little different. More often than not you’ll be allowed a kettle & toaster, and you may have a shared kitchenette with something like a hotplate (which is rubbish). I took along some cutlery, a plate and bowl set (this is the cheapest you’ll find!) and mugs for my room, plastic cups and a lurid coloured toaster and kettle to keep me in builders tea and toast and to help me make friends. Tea solves everything.
(I also took along a mini fridge and microwave which were not strictly allowed but I was good at hiding and I had an awesome cleaner).
Wherever you end up, first thing is first. Get an inventory. Don’t waste your money on stuff you don’t need – waste it instead on cheap pound a pint nights during Freshers Week.
Essentials you’ll be thankful for
No matter where you are going to be living, you’ll be glad of the following essentials:
- Good quality duvet and pillows
- At least two duvet cover sets (you will need to wash them…)
- Mattress protector (because if your university was like mine, you’ll be sleeping on a plastic mattress)
- Set of towels
- Tea towels & dishcloths (if not provided by halls)
- Hangers for clothes (I guarantee your provided wardrobe won’t have enough)
- Extension leads (for all your kit)
- Bottle opener and corkscrew
- Bedside or desk lamp if yours isn’t provided
- Loads and loads of change for the laundry rooms and laundry bags
- All your academic books, stationery, exercise books and a massive bag to lug it all around
Unnecessary extras which make it feel like home
Student accommodation can be bland. And dirty. And a little depressing. Once you’ve got your essentials all sorted, it is now the time to think through all the little things which will make your room fun, comfortable and also a place where all your new friends want to chill. Because there is nothing like being the centre of the party.
Think about entertainment – I’m not talking juggling balls or fire poi (but if they float your boat, knock yourself out), but things like TV/radio etc. With laptops and PC’s now providing you everything you need, you might not fancy taking a TV, but I took a TV and DVD player with me (and an old Playstation. Hey you might want a Wii party in your room). I took a few DVDs and CDs and went from there. I also took my laptop – but nowadays that goes without saying!
Posters, photos and mementos will also brighten up your room and give you great reminders of friends and family back home – and you can also adorn your wall with all the new memories you’ll be making. All Posters have a fine selection (and it is where I bought my Dookie album cover poster 13 years ago…). Plenty of blu-tak and you’ll have those walls covered in no time.
Finally, a few home comforts won’t go amiss. If you are in halls, you won’t have a front room and therefore your room on campus will also be your entertaining space. I remember having some cushions for my bed and chair (Wilkinsons are brilliantly priced for this) and a bean bag which proved to be very popular with the guys playing my Playstation One.
When I arrived at university, I also arrived with enough Pot Noodles to fill a drawer, a few bottles of cheap plonk, a crate of beer and a bottle of Vodka. No seriously. If these, a packet of hobnobs and my glittering company were not going to make friends, nothing would!
What were your university must haves?
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