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University Essentials5 min read


Heading off to university can be a daunting task and it’s very tempting to over prepare if you don’t quite know what’s in store. But, if you’re living in halls for your first year, chances are that space is limited and you’ll be thankful for the breathing room if you pack light. Plus, anything you forget can easily be brought later on. After all, I can say from experience that a limited selection of kitchen utensils never got in the way of any student!

There are lots of extensive lists out there with ideas on what to bring to university, but ultimately it’s based on what your home comforts are, what food you enjoy and how you study. There’s no use carting a sandwich toaster with you, if the last time you ate a toastie was 2009.

When packing, it’s also a good idea to consider how you’re going to get there. If you’re heading by train, take into consideration how much you can carry (especially if you’ve got changeovers) and what you’re going to use to pack. Many students going by train take roller suitcases, but be mindful that you’ll have to store it once you’re there. If you’re getting to university via car, large blue IKEA bags are a godsend as they’re easy to pack away and perfect for carting dirty washing to the laundrette (or back home to your parents if you prefer).

With this in mind, our list of university essentials are..

  • Foldaway Airer
    While most universities have tumble dryers, paying for each load can be costly and it also means a lot of time in the laundrette. Airers are inexpensive and give you another option in case there isn’t a dryer free.
  • Bedding and Towels
    The best advice when it comes to bedding is to have a spare set of bed linen and make sure you bring a mattress protector. A sleeping bag is also useful if your friends come to stay.
  • Photos and Decorative Items
    While not strictly an essential, it’s always nice to have pictures of your friends and family around and make a space your own. Just bear in mind, most universities hate blu-tac.
  • Alarm clock
    While relying on your phone’s alarm may have become the norm at home, it’s always good to have a plan B.
  • Tableware
    Plates, bowls, cups etc. – the usual suspects. The more distinctive the better.
  • Cookware
    Don’t worry too much about investing in a nice set of pans, go for a basic range and replace them down the line if you need to.
  • Clothes and Shoes
    It goes without saying that you’ll need clothes, shoes and underwear. Just make sure you take a selection for different weathers. Things that can be used for fancy dress are also invaluable…there’s always at least one ‘school disco’ in fresher’s week.
  • Wash bag and Toiletries
    If you share a shower, consider keeping a washbag full of toiletries in your room. It’s easy to round up and you won’t have people borrowing your products if they run out of theirs.


  • Prescriptions
    Make sure you pack your glasses, refill your prescriptions and are up to date on your vaccinations before you leave.
  • First aid kit
    While living at home, it’s easy to take for granted the box of plasters that’s there when you need them but it’s definitely a smart move to pack a first aid kit for uni (it took me all of two days to need mine!).
  • Stationary
    While shopping for stationary is weirdly exciting, in reality, the most important things to pack are a diary, notebooks and pens (although exactly what you need will depend on your course).


  • Books
    If your course releases reading lists ahead of time, buy the core textbooks early. There is usually a list of suggested reading – don’t buy these in advance and instead find them in the campus library or you’ll end up spending a fortune on books alone.
  • Important documents
    Have separate binders for university, medical, banking and other. Take some time here to make sure you’ve packed the right documents for everything, including TV License and insurance.
  • Travel and discount cards
    From NUS cards to bus passes, there are a lot of great discount schemes out there. Do a bit of research before you leave as some take a while to arrive in the post.
  • Electricals
    A quick round up would be: your laptop, chargers, USB sticks, extension leads, batteries, TV and remote (or a device like a Chromecast), and an Ethernet cable (not all student housing has the best Wi-Fi).
  • Bags
    A holdall or barrel bag is a great thing to have – use it for the gym, popping back on reading weeks and storing your books. As mentioned previously, IKEA bags are great for transporting your stuff to and from university.I07234NVY_1_Zoom
  • Playing Cards
    Whether it’s drinking games or a nice way to kill a lazy afternoon, at some point you’ll inevitably wind up playing card games.


  • Flip-Flops
    While shoes have been mentioned, it’s always useful to have a spare pair of flip flops if you’re sharing a shower room.
  • Headphones
    There will be times when you’ll be sat studying and want to crank the music up, while your housemates just want to go to bed. Get a pair of headphones to stay in their good books.
  • Food
    You might choose to take some non-perishables with you but the best way to fill your cupboards is to pop to a shop the day of your arrival or arrange a delivery.

And last but not least.. relax and have fun! It will be a fantastic experience and, although strange at first, you’ll soon be having the time of your life.

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