So you’ve got your place at university, you’ve brought your Freshers’ Week ticket, and are (attempting) to plough through the required reading. But what about packing? Before your mum argues about the “vital importance” of measuring cups or panic-buys the entire home wear range at Ikea, read on for Debut’s guide to the ultimate university survival kit. We’ve narrowed down everything that we found essential at university – both the obvious and the unusual.
- A door stop
Moving in to halls is a pretty scary experience; it isn’t unusual to experience a million worries on the moving in day drive: will my new flatmates like me? Will I have anyone to live with anyone in second year, or will I spend forever in the same flat; become the cranky mature student, yelling at people for using my labelled butter and telling the ‘youth’ to live the fullest before they are old?
The solution to all these worries? A door stop. Simple but oh, so effective. One day you will look back and realise that everyone (even the cocky rugby lad doing press-ups in the kitchen) is a nervous wreck when first moving in to university. All any one needs on that first day is a “hello” and the opportunity to open up. By propping your door open you show that you are a friendly person willing to get to know others and to start a conversation. Yes, even with that rugby lad in the kitchen.
- An open mind
This one is a funny one – it isn’t anything you can pack (sadly), but something you just need to be aware of when meeting new people at university. It is easy to jump to quick opinions about those you meet, and even universities have stereotypes. That rugby lad in the kitchen? Maybe he actually loves watching The Great British Bake Off with his Nan. The girl struggling up to the third floor in stiletto heels? Bet she will be in trackies and Uggs before you know it.
- A mattress protector
Moving in to a room that has been lived in by many other students before you and has likely not been cleaned very well since is a disquieting thought. A mattress protector – a cover that goes between your mattress and sheet – not only helps you sleep easier at night, but also helps with old, tatty mattresses with loose springs.
- A bottle opener
The holy grail of university life. If you don’t have a bottle opener to hand then prepare to suffer – get one that attaches to your key ring for quick access. Don’t splurge on an expensive one however, it is likely to be passed around at parties and pre-drinks and lost in the process.
- Cheap trainers
Going out at university is not the same as going out at home. At home it likely to be a huge event, with lots of preparation and planning, and you go all out with your outfit. At university going out is as regular thing; without parents to nag you and lectures recorded by your professors, it is easier to write off the next day hung over. Similarly, your going-out outfits tend to be more casual. Wearing heels is relegated to fancy events like end-of-year balls or 21st birthdays. Buy a pair of cheap trainers before moving in to university – these will become your best friends. Comfortable even after a whole night of dancing on tables, not a problem if covered in alcohol and protective if stepped on. Plus, they go with any outfit!
- Good speakers
If you have speakers at university prepare to be everyone’s best friend (bonus points if you have Spotify Premium too). With speakers you become the most important person at pre-drinks, the unofficial DJ, and you can loan them to others in return for them doing your laundry. Clean underwear for an evening of Justin Bieber’s Despacito on repeat? That’s a pretty sweet deal.
- A sturdy pair of boots and a good coat
Trudging in to campus every day, whatever the weather, you will find how important your outfit choices are. With a pair of sturdy, waterproof and comfortable boots, and a comfy, warm coat you will be set for 9 am seminars in the winter wind and rain.
- A onesie or a comfy blanket
We all know that the best place to be hungover is at home. Mum and dad fussing over you, your comfy bed and endless cups of tea. At university this isn’t the case, but if you plan ahead then your hungover days will be almost as good. Pack a onesie or comfy blanket – when you are feeling worse for the wear nothing is better than snuggling up and watching a film with your (equally hungover) flatmates.
- The perfect hungover breakfast spot
This isn’t really something you can pack, but something that is essential to student life: equally important when hungover is the perfect, greasy full English fry up. Hunt out the perfect hungover breakfast spot – the place where all your friends meet to nurse headaches, stuff their faces with bacon sarnies and gossip about the goings on last night.
- Cute PJs, dressing gown and slippers
Inevitably you will be woken up in the dead of night by the halls’ fire alarm. Inevitably this will happen more than one; inevitable it will be the fault of some drunken idiot who the entire student population learns to loath with passion. Prepare yourself for this rude awakening with cute PJs, a dressing gown and slippers. After all, you never know when you might see that hot guy from your course.
- Face paint, glitter and dress up
Freshers’ is full of dress up parties; face paint parties, Come As Your Course parties and School Disco parties. Check out what events your university has lined up and plan ahead.
- The essentials!
With all of the excitement and nerves it is easy to forget simple, essential things like your ID, your phone charger or a towel. Make a list of everything you think you need – making sure you’re being realistic – and tick these off as you pack.
We hope that our university survival kit helps, let us know if there is anything else you would add to our list.
Words: Esther Newman
The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.