It’s that time of year again when hundreds of posts are circulated around university age people, listing everything from bedding your mum picked out to a colander that your flatmate will definitely steal three weeks into first term. When lists try to tell you absolutely everything you might possibly need, they get overwhelming and (for the most part) unnecessary.
So, as someone who graduated this summer and is heading back to uni next month, here is a no bullshit guide to what things are actually useful at university, plus a few things that really, really aren’t.
A damn good water bottle.
A water bottle is one of the best things to have on you at university. Almost every building will have a water fountain, staying hydrated is obviously good for your health (and your hangover), plus taking a tactical sip during a seminar means you won’t get asked to answer a hard question. Get a decent one that won’t crack in your bag (and definitely do not just reuse one from some bottled water you got a few weeks ago). This is the one that I’ve used for the past year, and it’s leakproof, lightweight, and has taken some serious beating from me throwing my backpack around.
If you are a person who wears high heels, trust me, you will not wear them as often as you think you will. Generally if you’re a student you will be walking everywhere, and you do not want to be the one friend limping behind when you’re already late to a lecture. Save yourself from carrying your shoes and stepping on some definitely not hygienic roads on a night out, and pack your trainers. Your toes will thank you.
A coat with a hood.
Since you’re probably going to be walking everywhere (see above), a coat designed to withstand shitty weather is a must. Sometimes it’s just gonna be too windy for an umbrella
or you left it in a pub in freshers week and you’re going to wish you’d let your dad talk you into that sensible raincoat. You will be at university for the coldest and wettest parts of the year. Love yourself. Bring a sensible coat.
Storage boxes and box files.
Even if you start the year with the best intentions, you will undoubtably accumulate a large amount of crap. Some of this will be important crap (like university documents or the syllabus for your course), or not important crap (like the free lanyard you got from Megabus during freshers or a stack of dominoes vouchers), but they both will look ugly stacked on your bedside table. Shove them in a pretty pastel box from Ikea. Et Voila! A less crap university room.
USB drive and an external hard drive.
You will need a USB drive all the damn time. Whether for presentations, printing off essays, or getting some episodes of Game of Thrones from your flatmate in a definitely legal way, it will definitely come in handy. Get one with a decent amount of storage, and keep it plugged into your computer at all times. The external hard drive can be used in a similar way, but has the added benefit of being able to store absolutely everything of use from your laptop. I have seen too many friends get everything wiped from a dodgy laptop days before an essay was due in. Get a damn hard drive and back up your files.
If you’re gonna carry more than one notebook and textbook around at any one time, get yourself a backpack. Messenger bags kill your shoulders, and tote bags just won’t hold everything you need them to. Make sure you get one that fastens properly (not one of those drawstring ones that mean all of your library books get soaked by the rain) and preferably one with fairly thick straps. Brands like Jansport and Kånken are really hardwearing, and you can pick them up fairly cheaply on eBay.
Universities over charge for laundry facilities, and colour catcher sheets are the best way to get the most out of one wash. If you don’t have to separate your colours and whites you’ll save yourself a butt-load of money, plus a lot of brands are starting to make cheaper alternatives to the original brand.
Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, but a lot of these are things either myself or flatmates didn’t think about until much too far into our first year at uni. Let me know if you think there’s anything you disagree with or missed off!