When you’re starting out as a student, choosing what to take to university can be a little stressful. After all, you can’t be entirely sure what you need until you get there.
Everyone will have a word of advice for you. Your Mum will probably have you take everything you might possibly need, ever. If you’re lucky, she’ll also buy most of it for you!
Your student friends or older siblings, being a year or two wiser than you, will offer suggestions based on their experience. University welcome packs come with their own guidance.
To help you choose what to pack and what to leave at home, we’ve put together this short guide to deciding what to take to university.
Study equipment you need for university
When the bottles are cleared away after the Freshers’ parties and your new home is starting to feel familiar, the studying will begin. After all, that’s why you’re at university.
Whatever course you’re doing, the minimum study equipment that you need includes:
A laptop computer. You want one that’s reliable, has reasonable battery life and is perhaps not too expensive, in case something unfortunate should happen to it. Hazards include theft, being dropped and having beer spilt on the keyboard.
A backup system. It might be a plug-in hard drive, a USB stick or a cloud backup. Everything you do on your computer needs to be backed up, in case one of those hazards puts your computer out of reach.
Other study essentials you’ll want to have handy are:
- Desk lamp. Your hall may provide one, but better to be prepared and it could also be used as a handy bedside lamp.
- A notebook or writing pad
- Pens and pencils
- Highlighter pens
- A4 folder and a set of dividers
- Ruler, rubber, hole punch
- Electrical extension cable. You’ll be really glad of this when you realise the power sockets in your room are just a little too far from your desk.
Kitchen and cooking equipment you need for university
Obviously, if you’re being catered for, most of this is unnecessary!
If you’re going to be using a communal kitchen, you may be able to share equipment with other people. It’s quite likely that other people will borrow some of your kitchen gear (with or without your permission), and from our experience, some of your stuff is likely to disappear. So if you have any cooking equipment that’s precious to you, keep an eye on it (or even keep it in your room)!
You may want to label or mark all your kitchen equipment in some way. Cutlery can quickly get mixed up and after a few months, all those used pans can start to look the same. A dab of paint or nail varnish can be all it needs to mark ownership and this should stand up to the rigours of the kitchen sink for some time.
When it comes to the kitchen, we recommend that you take:
- A recipe book or two
- Some pots and pans. We suggest you include a deep-sided frying pan or wok – they’re incredibly versatile
- Baking tray(s)
- Cutting board(s)
- Cutlery – something cheap and easily replaceable
- Small number of sharp knives
- Kitchen scissors
- Several glasses and mugs – spares come in handy when friends visit or when one gets lost or broken
- Several plates and bowls – spares handy as above!
- A couple of wooden or plastic spatulas, heat proof, for stirring or serving
- Some plastic containers for storing leftovers, half-opened packets etc
- Tin opener
- Cheese grater
- Vegetable peeler
- Tea towels
- Washing up brush and dish cloths
- Bottle opener and corkscrew may also come in handy!
Don’t forget to pack some food. If you’re uncertain about how much cooking you’ll be doing in the first few days, don’t bring along a lot of fresh, perishable items. Instead, pack tins and packets with a long shelf-life.
What else should you take to university?
There’s more to student life than studying and eating. Here’s a somewhat random list of other items you should seriously consider packing for that first trip to university.
- Fairy lights. They’ll help transform an anonymous student room into your special space.
- Games, or at the very least, a pack of playing cards.
- Laundry bag. You’ll be glad of somewhere to put the dirties!
- Cuddly toy. Or some memento that connects you with home. If you’re going away for the first time, don’t underestimate the emotional impact it can have.
- Your phone charger. Seriously. Don’t leave this one behind.
- Gear for your favourite hobby. Whatever you’re into, there’s probably a student society for it.
- Pins, blu-tac, string or sticky tape. You’ll want to put stuff up to decorate your space, so these are essential.
- Common sense. It always comes in handy.
- Air freshener to help keep your space smelling sweet.
- Your sense of humour. Really important for absorbing the stresses of packing and travelling to university.
- A small drying rack, either free-standing or that hooks over a radiator.
- A willingness to make friends. Don’t be shy in those early days.
However hard you try, some of what you take to university won’t ever get used. And something will be left at home which you later wish you’d taken. This is a universal experience for every student, so accept it.
That said, the more you plan what you’ll take to university, the better prepared you’ll be for this exciting new time in your life.