I've read a lot of panicked Facebook and Twitter posts in the last week - fears about starting university in the coming weeks, not knowing what to expect as a Fresher, and the biggest worry of all seems to be what to pack and take with you. As someone who has graduated, but who still remembers her first day at university as clear as a whistle, I figured it was only right to give a little extra help to the graduates of tomorrow, by helping them work out what they need to take with them. Here's my must-haves list:
- The most important thing to have with you is any documentation for your new accommodation and course, make sure you have your passport or a photocopy, plus bank account details. All of these will be needed at one point or another and it is always useful to have them ready.
- Cleaning products - if you're staying in university accommodation, much as it will have been cleaned, you will want to give it a scrub down. I made sure to hoover everywhere, wiped down the surfaces and changed the bed cover. I'm not being OCD, once you see how some students live, you will be glad you did, if only to get certain "stains" off the bed.
- Laptop and a printer, if you have one, these are very important and will become the lifeblood of your time at university - you will come to use them more than anything else you pack. Try and have a backup system or external hard-drive and use it! There's nothing worse than losing your essay the night before it is due in.
- Lots of plug extensions - usually the plus will be in a useful place in uni accommodation, but there are limited numbers of them and I found it really helped having an extension so I could have my TV, laptop, hair-dryer and straighteners all plugged in at once.
- Slippers and flip-flops can make a world of difference to your life - you will spend a lot of time in your communal kitchen if you're friends with your flatmates and you don't want to be walking around barefoot if there is food on the floor etc. Likewise, if you share bathrooms, wear flip-flops if they look a bit grim - nobody wants to walk barefoot into a toilet shared with five blokes! Plus a cosy dressing gown is a must.
- Food - so many people turn up without food when they are in self-catered accommodation. This is the best time to squeeze a food shop out of mum and dad when they are an emotional wreck. Plus it will set you up for a while if you do it right - buy big bags of pasta, pasta sauces, rice, some meat for the freezer, milk, bread, herbs and spices if you plan to actually cook, plus some goodies - always good to have a few teabags and biscuits stashed away for your new friends.
- Cosy new bedding - treat yourself to some cute bedding (Primark do really nice sets) and cushions to make your room nice and cosy. You'll spend a lot of time in there and you want it to be welcoming. Make sure you have a spare set for when you drunkenly spill wine all over your bed and can't be bothered to wash it.
- Clothes for every occasion, you should always have a smart outfit in case you have to give a presentation at university, plus slobs and regular clothes for uni. Don't forget lots of outfits for nights out and of course, your fancy dress box. Good idea to check what fancy dress nights you will have in Freshers Week so you can get some outfits lines up ready.
- Books - if you can get your reading list before starting, it is a good idea to get your books early so you can beat the crazy rush to the nearest Waterstones to university - try looking online on Amazon or Play.com - often they are much cheaper.
- Photos of your family, friends, pets and boyfriend are a great way to decorate the usually bland walls of your university room, plus it's nice to have them there if you're feeling a bit homesick. Use Whitetack instead of Bluetack as some universities will dock your deposit for stains on the wall.
- Washing basket, washing powder and fabric softener - often forgotten but so useful when you have to nip down to the laundrette and have something to carry your smalls in.
- Toiletries - obviously all the standard ones, but don't forget the things your mum usually stocks up on instead like hand soap, toothpaste, and of course you'll need a couple of towels - a spare is great for when you can't be bothered to do washing.
- Alcohol - take some with you for the first few nights as the shops on campus are usually hideously overpriced and you might be too busy to head off campus to stock up.
- Take folders, pens, highlighters and paper - so many people forget basic stationary but you will be going to lectures and seminars at some point and you will need something to take notes on.
- Contraception and a first aid box - pack this full of painkillers, plasters, bandages, cold medication, Lemsip and anything else you think you might need. You WILL get ill - just accept it and be prepared for it. A hot water bottle is also nice for when you are feeling rough. Condoms - self-explanatory really, better to be prepared!
- A great attitude! You are going to have a fantastic time at university, but it is a scary time. Don't over think everything and let yourself worry - just go and enjoy it. The better your attitude and the more proactive you are about meeting your flatmates and joining clubs - the more friends you will have. If you sit in your room and cry because you are homesick, you will never meet anyone!
Most of all just remember to have fun, enjoy it, throw yourself into every moment, experience and night out - even if you don't drink, it is a great way to meet people in those first few weeks when everyone will be out every night. Treat every person you meet like your new best friend - but you may well have a completely different group of friends by second year so don't worry if you don't really connect with some people.
What are your biggest fears about university? Has this list helped with your packing?