What To Bring To Uni | Insider Checklist By A Current Student

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University is an exciting time for every student. Getting your results and learning where you’ll be studying for the next three or four years is a big step! However, that also means you’ll now have to start thinking about living at university too. This includes what you’ll need to take with you to work and survive, but this can be difficult to think about if you haven’t even been to university yet! Therefore, many students are often left wondering what they should actually bring with them to university.

If you’ve been feeling lost on what to pack for university, don’t worry! This article will help you figure out everything you need to take with you to university.

What do you need to bring to university?

It can be hard to think about what you need to bring to university! After all, you will be living in a completely different environment in student accommodation. If you are unsure how university accommodation works, check out this article from Think Student.

As a general overview, you will definitely need to bring clothes, kitchenware, toiletries, stationery, electronics, decorations, and some home comforts with you to university.

 It’s also a good idea to make sure you have some essentials such as first-aid supplies. This will include plasters, painkillers and any useful creams! Having laundry items such as detergent and colour catchers would also be a great idea!

Thinking about all the things you use in your day-to-day life, both at school and at home, is a good basis for what you’re going to need to take with you to university.

The list below will help you make sure that you pack the correct things and will outline what you really need.

1. Essentials

When you’re packing for university, it’s a good idea to start with making sure you have the bare essentials packed. After that you can start working on any extra things you want to take.

It’s no secret that freshers tend to overpack for their first term (and even if you think you won’t, you probably will!). I certainly did!

To help you get started, here is a list of the absolute bare essentials to take to university:

  • Bedsheets – bring one set at the very least, but ideally bring two (or more if you think you’ll need it).
  • First aid – make sure you have plasters and painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to hand – fresher’s flu can be rough!
  • Chargers – you’ll need all your chargers (phone, laptop, etc.), and some extension leads too. If you’re an international student, make sure to bring a socket adaptor.
  • Laundry items – make sure you have detergent and other cleaning items, as well as washbags.
  • Food – I’d recommend packing around a week’s worth (or slightly less) of food if you can, so that you won’t be worrying about what to eat as you start your first week.

Of course, I’ll be taking you through all the essential items throughout this article, but this list is just a starting point.

If you’d like some extra advice, Prospects has a good article on things to pack for university, linked here.

2. Clothes

Bringing clothes to university is an absolute no-brainer. However, the real question is, how many clothes do you actually need to bring?

Personally, I would recommend bringing two weeks’ worth of clothes, or maybe slightly over.

At the bare minimum, you should pack one week’s worth of clothes, but packing for two weeks will save you money (and time!) on laundry.

To break it down even further, here is a table for all the different clothes you will probably need:

Clothing What to bring
Outerwear Bring at least one jacket, and at least one coat. Weather in the UK can be unpredictable, so you should be ready for anything and everything! I’d also recommend bringing a waterproof jacket/coat or a jacket/coat with a hood, to cover all grounds.
Tops This is all up to your personal taste! I’d recommend bringing around 14-16 tops (if you have that many), to cover 2 weeks and slightly more. I’d also recommend buying a few comfortable T-shirts or long-sleeved tops to wear on lazy days!
Bottoms Again, this is up to you, but personally I’d pack a variety: trousers, cargo pants, tracksuit bottoms, skirts, dresses, and shorts. A couple of pairs of each is great!
Shoes Bring 3-4 pairs of shoes, ideally different styles — trainers, boots, ‘formal’ shoes, etc. Shower shoes/sliders are also an absolute must!
Underwear Obviously, I don’t need to tell you that you should bring underwear. This is the one item of clothing that you should pack absolutely everything you have. Also, make sure to bring different kinds of socks, like ankle socks, tights, and thick socks.

3. Kitchenware

Kitchenware is definitely the thing that students overpack the most on.

Firstly, tupperware/food containers are absolutely essential. Make sure you pack at least 4-5 containers (I personally like to use recycled takeaway tupperware!).

Here is a comprehensive list of all the kitchen items you’ll need at university, in order of priority:

  • Bowls and plates – microwaveable ones are ideal! I’d recommend bringing 2 or 3 of each (and make sure to wrap them up carefully so they don’t break in transit!).
  • Kitchen tools – cutlery, wooden spoon, knives, spatula, chopping boards, etc.
  • Pans – I’d recommend bringing a frying pan, a small pan, a medium pan and 1 big deep pan.
  • Tea towels – bring at least 2 or 3!
  • Washing-up liquid and scourers/sponges.

If you can afford it, I’d personally recommend investing in a slow-cooker and/or a blender. These are great if you don’t have much time for cooking. You can use them to make smoothies for when you’re on the go or leave your food to cook throughout the day!

If you are struggling to think of some good meals to cook at university, check out this article from Think Student. As well as this, I’d definitely recommend bringing containers/tins/bottles of food items such as rice, pesto, and oil.

These can be really expensive, which isn’t great for a student budget, so bringing some beforehand is a good way to save on money and still eat well!

4. Toiletries

Again, toiletries are sort of a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to know exactly what to take and what you can leave behind.

Here’s what I’d recommend taking with you:

  • Shampoo/conditioner/body wash
  • Towels (I’d advise bringing a spare towel just in case, as well as a face towel and hand towel)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste/other dental items such as floss
  • Deodorant
  • Sanitary products (for students who have periods)
  • Optional: makeup/makeup remover/nail polish and varnish, skincare products

Personally, I’d advise you to bring one extra of everything (e.g. two shampoo bottles, two tubes of toothpaste) so that you can store one for when you run out. You don’t have to, but it means you won’t have to worry about buying a new one straight away.

Your university will probably provide your accommodation with some toilet roll and a toilet brush. However, this is not always the case, so it is best to check whether you should bring some. It may be useful to buy a pack of toilet rolls at the start of term, as well as some toilet cleaner and bleach.

If you don’t already have a wash bag, I’d recommend buying one. This is so that all your toiletries are in one place, and you know what you’ve brought.

Furthermore, if you’re sharing a bathroom, you should invest in some shower shoes and a robe!

5. Stationery

If you’re anything like me, shopping for new stationery is always a fun experience!

As the basics, you’ll definitely need at least 2 or 3 notepads, and a pack of pens. You’ll also need the classic pencil case equipment: some pencils, a rubber, a sharpener, a ruler, some scissors, etc.

However, it’s also fun to get some stationery to make your notes look nice. Investing in some highlighters, coloured pens, or colouring pencils might be a good idea!

Getting or making a calendar or diary might also be good if you have a bit of trouble being organised.

Similarly, picking up a few files to keep your lecture and class notes sorted is definitely a good idea. After all, you might need to come back to them later.

You may choose to take notes on your laptop or tablet instead, in which case, you’ll need to think about packing some electronics! If you are still not completely sure about what to bring to lectures at university, check out this article from Think Student. You can also check this stationery guide by Think Student article.

6. Electronics

Universities are (perhaps slowly) embracing the digital age – you will have a university email, some universities upload their lectures online, and most university societies have social media pages.

As such, you will definitely need to bring your phone, a laptop or tablet (if you have one), and the chargers for those.

I’d also recommend bringing a pair of headphones or earbuds – I listen to music so much while I’m at university, whether I’m travelling across campus, studying in the library, or just chilling in my room!

However, the electronics you bring to university don’t always have to be for work. Personally, I take a small TV to university and my games consoles. That means if I have a little free time, I can relax with my games or invite friends over for a game night!

If you have quite a few electronics, it’s probably a good idea to get an ethernet cable and an adaptor for your laptop or other electronics. University Wi-Fi isn’t always the most reliable, so an ethernet cable makes sure you’ll have a secure connection in your room.

Of course, electronics are expensive, so these aren’t necessary if you can’t afford them. However, having a phone and a laptop are probably the most important while at university.

7. Home comforts

Home comforts aren’t necessarily a ‘must-bring’, but most students will bring at least a few things that remind them of home.

For example, I’ve had friends bring their instruments and other things for their hobbies from home. They can really help for feeling less isolated and anxious about being away from home, especially if university is the first time being away from home for a long period of time.

As another example, instead of buying a new blanket for university, you could bring one that you already have/use. This may seem small but having those reminders from home makes your university room feel a little less alien!

A fun idea might be to go shopping for university items with your friends. That way, when you see or use those things, you’ll think about your friends back home!

8. Decorations

Of course, decorations are always important. You want your space to feel like your own!

This is completely up to your personal tastes. However, here’s a list of decorations I recommend bringing for your room:

  • Photos from home – Most student accommodation will have a pinboard in their rooms. I always use it for pinning up pictures of friends and family from home, and even some from university too. I find them to be a good source of comfort if I’m feeling homesick, especially in my first year!
  • Plants – Plants are great for adding colour (and life!) to your room. It’s also been proven that house plants improve your concentration and productivity, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
  • Fairy lights – fairy lights add warm light to your room and are really good for making your room feel homey, especially if you’re just settling in.
  • Blankets and cushions – Most university students will tell you that student accommodation furniture isn’t always the comfiest. Adding a few soft blankets/cushions is a nice way of making your room a place of comfort!

As I mentioned earlier, personal items, such as books, posters etc. from home are also good decorations to bring along. They also serve as a good talking point if you invite friends over!

Things you won’t need to take to university

When you’re packing for university for the first time, you will definitely overpack – it might seem like you need to bring absolutely everything with you, but you really don’t!

A good place to start, like at the start of this article, is the absolute bare essentials. Pack the things you know you will 100% definitely need and won’t survive university without.

From there, slowly build up: what things do you want to take?

It might be helpful to organise your suitcases/boxes/bags by theme, e.g., clothes, toiletries, decorations etc. Then, you’ll be able to see whether you’ve packed enough for that category, or if you’re still missing things/packed too much.

If you aren’t really planning to cook in your first term, you can probably leave most of your kitchenware at home and just bring the basics like plates and cutlery.

Similarly, I wouldn’t advise packing your entire wardrobe for university. I’d only advise bringing enough clothes for at least a week and for no more than two weeks, since you’ll have to do your laundry at university at some point.

If you aren’t too big on decorations, you probably won’t need to bring a lot in that department either, which can save on space.

If there are certain items that you’re unsure whether you’ll need or not, I’d recommend not bringing them. Then, if it turns out that you do need them, you might be able to go back home to get them or buy a new one at university.

You don’t want to bring a bunch of stuff only for it to sit in your room!

When should you start packing for university?

When you should start packing is really up to you. However, I’d recommend that you start packing a couple of weeks in advance.

Personally, I made a checklist of everything I wanted/needed to bring with me, so I would slowly pack over the 2 weeks before I went to university.

If you’re not sure how much to pack, I’d recommend 1 or 2 suitcases (depending on the size of the suitcases), a few moving boxes, and some bags. You shouldn’t really need much more than that, otherwise it may not all fit in your car!

Make sure not to leave it too late – give yourself at least a week before you move in. Even if you think of yourself as someone who can pack quickly, it will most likely take longer to pack for university than you think.

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