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The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Family & Education -

ou for­got the kitchen sink,” said my mother the day I packed and moved to univer­sity. The car heaved with pairs of shoes, his­tor­i­cal nov­els and fan­cy­dress op­tions. I’d soon find out I’d taken far too much, although that cat tail did come in use­ful.

Pack­ing for your first year at univer­sity is tricky, es­pe­cially if you’re the old­est, or only, child. You haven’t done it be­fore; your par­ents haven’t done it for years. It’s easy to end up trav­el­ling hun­dreds of miles with nine plates, six saucepans and ev­ery last Shake­speare play. All the gear, and very lit­tle idea.

This is not an ex­haus­tive list but it is, at least, a prac­ti­cal start…

Home

Your bed­room for the next year will be a place for sleep­ing, es­say writ­ing and snug­gling. Un­less you pre­fer the hos­pi­tal-room look for the inside of your ac­com­mo­da­tion, it’s time to dec­o­rate. Photographs for your wall, DVDs that make your dad laugh and a cush­ion se­lec­tion to ri­val John Lewis’s are a solid start. Also con­sider the fol­low­ing:

A doorstop is es­sen­tial: you can be so­cial with­out leav­ing your desk/ bed/floor.

A teddy for your bed is not sad; ev­ery­one nice at uni has one.

Loads of hang­ers, be­cause you can’t ex­ist on four for a year.

A hot wa­ter bot­tle and a desk fan for in­clement weather – the overly safety-con­scious res­i­dence blocks won’t al­low your win­dow to be opened far enough to achieve any sem­blance of “fresh air”.

A first-aid kit, be­cause ev­ery­one needs plas­ters.

A cou­ple of sets of bed­ding, to limit the stress on wash­ing day.

A dif­fuser to make your room smell nice – can­dles won’t be al­lowed. Muji (muji.eu) has them.

A long Eth­er­net cable – univer­sity Wi-Fi can be un­re­li­able at best, and you’ll be lost with­out it. If you are liv­ing in self-catered halls, you’re go­ing to need some kitchen equip­ment. While it’s easy to get car­ried away, don’t over­buy. You can al­ways stock up dur­ing term time. Fresh­ers’ fairs, want­ing to cater for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, of­ten have stalls set up for es­sen­tial kitchen goods. You don’t need nine plates, saucers and mar­tini glasses.

You need crock­ery and cut­lery. Invest in a small com­plete set of each but only get two of ev­ery­thing out. Keep the rest un­der your bed.

A toastie maker will win you friends. It is a sci­en­tific fact that ham and melted cheese cures all ills.

Teach your­self to cook with a recipe book. There are hun­dreds of stu­dent choices but, for as­pir­ing grown-ups, Delia Smith’s Com­plete Cook­ery Course is all-in­clu­sive.

Cheesy pasta is a stu­dent sta­ple meal, so your colan­der and cheese grater will be your best friends.

Cut­ting car­rots with a but­ter knife rarely shows prom­ise, so bring a cou­ple of good knives.

No one has ever owned enough Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers. Handy for ev­ery­thing.

Nice tea tow­els brighten the monotony of iden­ti­cal kitchens. Take a pile and wash them fre­quently. Ev­ery­one will have their favourite mug – a com­fort­ing re­minder of home.

A small wok is per­fect for mak­ing meals and mul­ti­coloured pens might seem “so A-level” but uni is also for work. Take two pens to each lec­ture in case one fails.

Your own lap­top is pretty much a ne­ces­sity nowa­days, though li­braries and JCRs may have ma­chines you can use. Make sure you have an ex­ter­nal hard drive to back up im­por­tant work (pic­ture your thirdyear dis­ser­ta­tion go­ing up in a puff of cy­bersmoke), and get a cou­ple of USB sticks to have in your pen­cil case, on your key ring, navel pierc­ing etc etc.

You will find con­tin­ual uses for Post-its – for book­mark­ing pages, party games and leav­ing notes on your door.

Although many cour­ses will record lec­tures, you can do it your­self with an in­ex­pen­sive voice recorder.

It goes with­out say­ing that you’ll need a note­book. A solid Mole­sk­ine looks smart and has plenty of room.

So­cial

Hav­ing “stuff” won’t make friends for you, but it helps.

Beer Pong might be Amer­i­can, but it’s a scream. You can pick up cups and balls on Ama­zon cheaply.

Play­ing cards are a ne­ces­sity for any games night, and ev­ery­one for­gets them.

Keep at least one fancy dress out­fit ready. At some univer­si­ties, par­tic­i­pa­tion is manda­tory.

Like a first-aid kit, if you are the friend with the face paint, you’ll be popular.

Un­less you’ve got pro open­ing skills, pack a bot­tle opener. Never not help­ful.

You don’t need to smoke to own a lighter. Take a cou­ple of shot glasses just in case. They dou­ble up as a handy but­ton hold­ers.

Sports gear is op­tional but, if you’re keen, bring your hockey stick or swimming gog­gles.

Sign­ing up for a Net­flix ac­count might not seem so­cia­ble, but you need some “me” time, too.

Take a ball or Fris­bee for in­stant new friend points out­side your ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Style

It’s easy to over-pack. Leave some clothes at home for the hol­i­days, oth­er­wise you’ll be do­ing a lot of heavy lifting. Re­mem­ber, there are shops in your univer­sity town, too. You won’t need your bikini or your snow boots in week one (un­less you get in­vited to some weird par­ties).

Pack train­ers whether you’re sporty or not – they dou­ble up as tem­po­rary snow shoes, and run­ning is free!

Take one black-tie op­tion with you, for fresh­ers’ balls, sports par­ties and Christ­mas for­mals.

Take an anorak or an um­brella that ac­tu­ally works.

Flip-flops might up­set the fash­ion­able but are ideal for when you need to pop out for some milk.

Invest in warm slip­pers and a dress­ing gown for fire alarms at 3am when some­one in flat 27 has burnt their toast.

Snug­gly py­ja­mas are es­sen­tial for nights in, curled up. This is not a crime, and don’t let any­one tell you oth­er­wise.

Con­fi­dence-boost­ing favourite out­fits are es­sen­tial for fresh­ers. You want to feel great, so take things that make you smile.

Don’t take…

Your school hoodie. You’ll be get­ting a uni one quick as a flash – move on.

A TV. Not very so­cial, and you can use your com­puter for on­line view­ing.

A ket­tle: there will be one in your kitchen.

A car. Most univer­si­ties won’t let you park it any­where.

Last but not least...

You can have a per­fectly cu­rated wardrobe, a KitchenAid pasta at­tach­ment and a room that looks like a Chang­ing Rooms “after” pho­to­graph, but an open mind is your most pow­er­ful ac­ces­sory.

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