Freshers' Guide: What to take to university

If you're starting university soon - or going back, but worryingly absent-minded - have a good think and read through this checklist to make sure you pack what you absolutely need

So you're going to uni soon – it's all excitement and nerves and packing up your life isn't it? By now your parents have already given you a list of about 200 items you must take with you to Uni. Obviously there's the bog-standard: enough underwear to last until you realise you need to go to the laundrette, and as many clothes as you can fit in your bag. But there are other things that perhaps you or your parents haven't even thought about yet.

Don’t bother buying stuff that everyone else will undoubtedly have – crockery, cutlery and kitchenware will either be in the kitchen already, or everyone else will have their own sets too. You inevitably end up sharing everything, so don’t panic too much if you forget to buy a cutlery set in your favourite colour. Don’t bother with a TV either unless you’re massively antisocial – you want to spend as much time as you can with other people.

On the consumables side, if you can, get your parents to take you to the local supermarket – buy non-perishables like pasta, cereal, pasta sauces, cooking essentials like salt and pepper, washing powder and cleaning products.

  1. Important documents
    Let’s start with the boring and obvious stuff. You need proof of age – so that’s either your driving licence or passport. You’ll need your National Insurance number if you want to work, and your NHS number which will make registering with a doctor much easier. To help you keep on top of your workload, a diary or calendar is useful, too.
  2. Home comforts
    Maybe you don’t want to admit it to anyone just yet, but it's guaranteed: you are going to miss home. You are going to want your family at some point. You are going to want a hug or a familiar face. So, you absolutely need to have nice homey things that remind you that you’re loved. They’ll come in really handy especially when you’re slogging away on your dissertation or another looming assignment. In fact, if you're looking for inspiration, read our ten great ideas to turn your boring halls room into a home.
  3. Laundry basket
    Unless you’re super-organised, your washing is going to pile up, as you gradually take procrastination and time-wasting to another level. The least you could do to be kind to yourself is invest in a laundry basket, or even a bag, so that your stuff doesn’t end up lying around on the floor and stinking your room out. Seriously – you want to be liked, don’t you?
  4. A decent bag
    No, not a Louis Vuitton. A good, durable, sturdy bag that’s big enough for A4 books and pads, your laptop, and anything else you’ll need to carry around with you. Imagine one rainy day when you have to go into the library with a few text books, your laptop, and a notepad. That’s the kind of situation you have to be prepared for.
  5. Toilet roll
    This is the one thing that every year, everyone forgets to buy before the next term. And every single time you curse yourself for not remembering. Bizarrely, university halls sometimes don’t even start you off with one loo roll, so…you know. Don’t be caught short.
  6. A printer
    This seems like a huge expense but actually taking a small printer (or if you can – a multimedia printer which will scan, send to email, print, photocopy and do everything but the dishes) with you to university will save you so much time and money, you wonder why they aren’t just included in halls. Firstly, you save money on printing on campus, which is extortionate at best. Secondly, you save on bus tickets and time spent traveling to uni and back, just to print something that you desperately need. Thirdly, you don’t need to panic about keeping paperwork (though this a great habit to get into!) – if you scan them in to your computer, you can always print them when you need them.
  7. A nice stash of vitamins, painkillers and plasters
    Call it a first aid kit. This may sound overkill, but Freshers’ Flu is, far from being some made-up scare tactic, very real and very horrible. Think: the worst cold you’ll ever have, bordering on flu, and with the ability of making everybody else entirely unsympathetic to your plight. And it can knock you out for a few days. Vitamin C is really good for boosting your immune system – or take a combination/A-Z of vitamins, like Berocca. Painkillers will help ease off the inevitable hangovers that are yet to come.
  8. A USB stick or external hard drive
    This is just going to make your life a whole lot easier. You’ll need to transfer work from your university computers to your laptop or home PC – maybe even someone else’s computer. So make sure you back up your important documents to a USB stick (physically small but nowadays can hold a lot of data; unfortunately easy to lose) or a hard drive (can hold more data than a stick; annoyingly large and difficult to casually carry around).
  9. Earplugs
    You may not think it now, but there will be times when you don’t want to party, when you have a lecture really early in the morning and you just can’t stay up all night. Ear plugs are a god-send, particularly if you’re in halls (read: surrounded by people who never seem to actually go to university and always spend their time drinking). They block out the noise so that you can sleep peacefully through the night. Just hope that your alarm clock is loud enough to rouse you!
  10. Clothes horse
    Saving money and energy on tumble drying clothes, these nifty little things will help you dry your clothes on your radiator. Clothes horses are in demand in halls, as students look to ways to cut their costs – so sharing your clothes horse is a great way to break the ice with your flatmates too.
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