This time last year, I was thinking about all the things I could possibly take to university. After moving to back to the UK from Japan, I had already streamlined most of my belongings, so I felt like I was in good stead for not taking too much but I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be left wanting for anything.
After browsing the internet for many tips on what things would be good to take with me and what things to leave, I felt like I had a fully-formulated idea of a list of things to pack. Of course, reality never turns out as you’d expect, so I felt inspired to make my own post.
Now, as with most life experiences, this is going to vary from person to person. If you’re going into halls you may be provided with certain bits and bobs such as a kettle or ironing board and iron, or if you’re moving into rented accommodation with a group, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t all bringing toasters. So make sure you double check and think about your own list that is personal to you and your circumstances but here’s some suggestions from me.
We’ll start with things you might need for your bedroom, as this will be your very own personal space. I’m a bit of a hoarder and I like my bedroom to feel super homely, so mine was chockablock with random items I never actually ended up using, but that’s just how I like to live. Some of my mates never even got around to properly decorating so their rooms looked more akin to a very cheap hotel room (no offence).
Personal preference will make a big difference for what you decide to take, so feel free to adjust this list to your own personal tastes.
And as I mentioned, check what you will and won’t be provided with. Most university halls with provide some bedroom basics such as a bed (duh!), desk and desk chair, wardrobe, curtains and a bin but you should definitely double check.
Also it’s worth pointing out that even though my room was supposed to come with a bin, I didn’t have one for some reason even though my flatmates did. I could have probably emailed someone to get one, but this seemed like effort and eventually someone’s bin appeared in the kitchen (probably some sort of drunken antic?) so after a few days of it not moving, I nabbed it.
Anyway, on to the list.
- Duvet cover
- Fitted bed sheet (or one that’s not fitted if you’re a heathen, I guess)
- Pillow cases
- Mattress protector
- Blankets for extra comfort
- Cushions (for comfort or decoration, that’s up to you)
Spares of some of these items will probably come in handy – nothing worse than having to wait for your duvet cover and pillow cases to dry before you can put them on and go to bed (trust me, I know) – and if you’re the sort of person who might have friends from home come to visit, some extra blankets could be useful (if you’ve got the storage space, otherwise just tell them to bring their own).
- Printed picture (and blu-tack or some other way of putting them up)
- Fairy lights
- A cosy rug
- Anything else that you fancy decorating your room with – I have a mini dream-catcher and some lanterns as well as the above!
I’m sure you’ll want to make your room feel like your own, so decorations are always a good idea! The items I’ve listed above are always uni student favourites, but this one is down to personal taste.
- Extension lead (super useful if you don’t have many plug sockets)
- Any chargers you need
The technology you take will depend on the technology you have, obviously a camera isn’t necessary for everyone, but I personally love to take my DSLR and Instax-Mini with me to a lot of places. I don’t really watch TV so that one isn’t something I’d personally bring, but some people like to have one.
- Pens & Pencils
- Colouring pencils
- Any textbooks you’re required to have
The stationery you choose to take may depend on your course and any hobbies you may have. You could also arrive with just a few essentials (like notepads, pens and pencils) and add to your collection throughout the year. If you already have some stationery items, maybe try to avoid the temptation to buy a whole new set and start off with items you already have. Also, it’s worth noting that scissors and tape may come in handy for wrapping presents etc.
I’m a sucker for having physical copies of these sorts of things, and personally a room without books on display is lacking (even if I never get around to reading them). If you’re more of a digital person, then I guess you won’t be needing these items.
- Clothing and accessories
- Casual day-to-day outfits
- Dressing gown and slippers
- Pyjamas (if you wear them) and general comfy lounge-wear
- Coats (for all seasons)
- Winter accessories such as, gloves, hats and scarf
- A selection of shoes (don’t forget trainers for sport and some smarter shoes!)
- Smart clothes (especially if you are planning to get a part-time job, you may need it for interviews)
- Sportswear and maybe swimwear
- ‘Going Out’ Outfits
- Fancy dress for socials! (more on that in another blog post coming soon)
- Jewelry (if you wear it)
- Bags, such as a rucksack for day to day, maybe a bigger bag if you need or want to travel, smaller bags for nights or days out and a purse or wallet.
- Umbrella (not exactly clothing, I know)
- Laundry capsules
- Laundry basket
Okay, please don’t go out and buy an entire new wardrobe. These are just some suggestions and obviously if you never go swimming you probably won’t need a swimsuit or if you think I’m being overzealous on the bag thing (I am, I’m such a bag person) then don’t bother with a bag for every occasion! Also, you may go to a lot of fancy dress socials, but you’ll have no way of predicting the dress codes for these, so don’t worry about that too much (and I’ll be creating a fancy dress blog post soon!). Don’t forget enough hangers for everything you want to hang up but also remember you may end up with less space than you have at home, so maybe try to streamline your wardrobe if you fancy.
- Important documents
- Passport/Drivers licsence/some form of ID
- Any official university correspondence, such as your acceptance letter
- Any student loan correspondence
- Accomodation details
- Bank account details (and your bank card too!)
- Any other important documents you want to keep a hold of, such as prescriptions
Keep all of these things safe – I like to have a big folder so I can easily flick through and find what I am looking for.
- Basic first aid kit (plasters, pain killers, cold and flu medicine, etc.)
- Allergy tablets (if necessary)
- Anything you have on prescription
- GP details
- Glasses (if you need)
You will be thankful for all of this if you get ill. Or, in my case, get a massive rash that the pharmacist could only recommend antihistamines for.
If you’ve bagged yourself a room with an ensuite (okay, most likely it’s a tiny wetroom), you might want a few extras such as a shower caddy to keep all of your bits in. If you’re sharing, you’ll possibly want a wash bag, so you can keep your bits in your room and carry them easily to the bathroom when necessary.
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Body wash
- Razor & shaving foam (or your preferred method of hair removal)
- Hand soap
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet roll
So if you’re short for space when travelling to uni, remember that these are items you will be able to buy. That said, if you end up being too busy to get to the shop on your first few days, you’ll want to make sure you have a few of the basics.
- Large towels for your body
- Hand towel
- Face towel
Make sure you have multiple towels, so that you can wash them regularly and still have one to use.
- Hair accessories (hair ties, bobby pins, headbands etc.)
- Hair dryer
- Hair straighteners/curlers if you want
I’m not much of a fussy person when it comes to hair styling, I like to just brush and go. But if you’re the sort of person that can’t live without straighteners then go for it.
- Face wash
- Makeup wipes
- Any other skincare items you use regularly
If you’ve never lived alone before, it’s likely that you might be struggling to think of things that you will need for your kitchen. You might also be lacking a lot of these items, unlike clothes and stationery that you probably already have.
My advice would be to start by asking family members if they have any spare items they can gift you, rather than buying a full set of kitchenware brand new. Also remember that the likelihood is that a fair few of your items may get broken or ‘lost’ (possibly in your flatmates cupboards, who knows?).
Also, remember that if you are living in some sort of shared accommodation, you might not know what items everyone else is bringing. If you can, try and coordinate, but if you won’t meet your flatmates until you move in, you could hold off on bringing some items until you get there and will know what you need.
I also found myself asking for items such as a teapot and french coffee press for my birthday, as I wasn’t sure how often I would realistically use them. By the third time I attempted to make green tea using a sieve and a bowl, I was sure a teapot would be worth the investment.
And, again, don’t forget to check what will be provided with your accommodation – my halls provided us with a microwave, a kettle and two toasters.
Make sure that at the very least you have enough for yourself. You may want some plates and bowls that vary in size, like a bigger bowl for mixing and a smaller one for your cereal. Just don’t do what I did and rock up with a selection of tiny plates because that’s all your family had to offer (on the plus side, no one ever borrowed them, because they were ridiculously small).
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable coffee cup
You’ll want mugs for hot drinks and glasses for other drinks. Also if you fancy being classy, you could bring a wine glass, but I just sucked it up and drank wine out of a normal glass (but never, ever a mug). I also have a wide array of shot glasses (and how I gained so many is another story).
You’ll want enough of these for yourself, but be warned, cutlery is the first thing that seems to go missing, in uni halls and apparently in the restaurant I used to work in too.
- Cooking equipment
- Pots and pans (and a wok if you’re a fan of stir-frys)
- Chopping board
- Sharp knives
- Spatula, mixing spoons etc.
- Baking tray
Think of all the things you’d use to cook at home and go from there. I also find a rice cooker is essential for me, because I’ve grown up eating good rice (and also because that’s the only way I know how to cook rice).
I can not express the importance of tupperware enough. Trust me on this. Throughout your life your tupperware collection will fluctuate, you’ll gain them through takeaways, suddenly only have tupperware lids, suddenly have no tupperware at all, and then suddenly your cupboard will overflow with them. In any case, they’ll always be handy for storing leftovers.
This is a tricky one because it will depend on what you may or may not be provided with. Some essentials include a toaster, a microwave and a kettle. If you fancy living in luxury, you could think about a toastie maker, a rice cooker and even a coffee machine if you’re feeling super fancy (I’m guilty! But in my defense, it was a gift).
- Other bits and bobs
- Cleaning items, such as sponges, cloths and washing up liquid
- Oven gloves
- Tea towels
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Baking things like a sieve if you’re planning on baking
- Bin bags
- Cling film/Tin foil
Basically, if there’s anything you think you regularly use that I’ve missed out, it could be worth adding that to your own personal list. As someone who is notoriously bad at cooking (okay, I can cook, I just don’t like to), I tend to keep to the bare minimum. And I, personally, would suggest starting with the essentials and adding to them as you discover items you need, otherwise you’ll end up with a potato peeler that sits at the back of your cupboard for months.
So, I’m not going to do a big list of essential food items for every student, because that should probably be a whole separate blog post. I will say that you probably shouldn’t pack loads of food especially if you’re travelling a long way, but you will want some essential bits and bobs to get you through Freshers’ week without worrying about getting to the shops. Try roping your parents into doing a big food shop with you, or just make sure you get a shop in as soon as possible after arriving.
You will definitely want some meals that are easy to cook over the course of Freshers’, as you’ll probably be quite busy, and getting into the swing of things in a new environment can be exhausting. Ready meals will be useful, but also have ingredients for simple, yet healthy meals such as various pastas.
Also, if you’re a coffee or tea drinker, definitely make sure you stock up at the very first opportunity.
Some other bits
You might also want to think about a pack of cards and maybe even some board games if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you drink alcohol, you’ll probably want some of your preferred poison, to celebrate your next step in life.
Also, if you’ve got a musical instrument you practice regularly, take it. If you’ve got a guitar that sits in the corner of your room and never gets played, maybe think twice.
I wasn’t sure where an iron and ironing board fits in, so if you’re not going to be provided with one, check with your flat mates and make sure someone will have one.
And there we go! A big old list of lots of things you might need to take to university. To be honest, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, yet I seem to have suggested a lot of stuff (possibly too much stuff). In any case, even though it might seem that you need to take the world with you as soon as you move in, you’ll definitely be able to buy anything you might have forgotten or retrieve it from home at a later date (I left my laptop charger in my aunt’s car, big mistake).
Make sure to prioritise, and you could even experiment with leaving certain items – if you have moments where you think you need them, then you know that you should get that item when you can. Part of the experience is working out for yourself what you do and don’t need as an independent adult.
Hopefully, though, a list like this has helped you think about all the things that you may need. This is more of a starting point for your own lists, a helpful bit of guidance, and not the gospel of all things university.