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Preparing for University – Packing List

NCH Student Blog | July 16, 2021

Moving to university can be a difficult experience; it can be really exciting but it can also be very daunting, especially if you’re unsure what to pack. Knowing what to take with you can be extremely helpful in calming any nerves you may have. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of things we think you’ll need at university so that you have a better idea of what to bring, and the transition can be as smooth as possible!

Before we get started, I’ve thought of some key pieces of advice that I wish I’d had before I moved to university.

The biggest piece of advice is to consider what you use on a daily and weekly basis. If you use something regularly, then you’re going to need it at university, but if it’s something you haven’t used recently (aside from things like fancy dress, which only comes out on special occasions) then you’re not going to need it and there is no point bringing it. 

Following on from that, consider how you can get things to your accommodation if you forget something, or need to bring it later on. I’m lucky enough to only be an hour’s train ride away from my first-year accommodation, so when I inevitably forgot my coat, I was able to quickly run home and get it. However, if you live further away, it is worth planning exactly what you need to bring and when. There’s no point bringing your entire wardrobe in one go, but make sure you plan a time when you can collect them – perhaps Reading Week, the Christmas Holidays, or just a weekend when you’re home. 

My next big piece of advice is to try to remember that you’re probably going to buy things when you’re at university, and you don’t need to buy them all before you go. For example, cleaning equipment. As long as you have a sponge, some washing up liquid and some wipes for the first few days, you’ll be fine. You don’t need to bring the entire cupboard! Also, why not make it a fun bonding activity with your flatmates (if you have shared spaces) – you could all go to the shops together to decide what you need, and then make a cleaning rota!

Lastly, and this is perhaps the most important, is to find out what your accommodation provides before you move in. My first-year accommodation only provided a microwave, and so I had to bring a kettle, a desk lamp, a bin, etc – unfortunately so did all of my other flatmates so we ended up with 6 of everything! Find out what your accommodation provides, and then wait until you have moved in to decide what to buy. Split the costs between you so that no one is paying for more than they should, but otherwise, you’ll end up with too many of the same thing!

Those are my biggest pieces of advice, so now let’s break it down into what we suggest you pack.  You can also print out our full checklist HERE.

Important Documents:

  • Passport and Driver’s License (or other forms of photo ID),
  • Official university correspondence AND student loan correspondence,
  • Details of your accommodation and contract, 
  • Student discount cards (NUS card, railcard, etc),
  • Insurance documents, 

Find the full list HERE

There will always be a time when you need one of these documents, and it’s so important to keep them all in a safe place. Alternatively, you could scan the items into your laptop/phone/tablet so that you never lose them. If you’re an international student then it’s important that you remember to bring documentation relating to your Visa or studying abroad. This includes your enrolment documents and accommodation details, Credit Card and/or British Pounds (£), Insurance documents (if applicable), adaptor for non-British plugs (in the UK we use three-pin plugs and the power is 240 volts), laptop, face coverings and hand gel. 

Electricals:

  • Laptop/desktop computer AND charger, 
  • Mobile phone AND charger, 
  • Extension leads (a lifesaver!), 
  • Adapters (if you’re an international student), 
  • USB Sticks (optional, but are great for backing up your work), 
  • Headphones, 

Find the full list HERE

Stationery:

  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, 
  • A4 notepads, 
  • A4 folders/binders, 
  • Stapler, 
  • Sellotape,

Find the full list HERE

Personally, I think a lot of this can be bought when you get to university, or just bring what you already own. There is no need to go on a big stationery shopping trip (although that does sound very fun) when you can get the bare essentials from Tesco for £10. Most people will use their laptop/computer to make notes a lot of the time, so it doesn’t make sense to spend tonnes of money on cute pens and pads when you won’t use them!

Kitchenware:

  • Cutlery, 
  • Crockery, 
  • Chopping Board, 
  • Knives,
  • Wooden spoon, 
  • Spatula, 
  • Cheese grater, 
  • Baking tray, 
  • Oven gloves, 
  • Tupperware, 
  • Washing up liquid AND sponge, 
  • Recipe book, 
  • Tea Towels,
  • Snacks (another great way to make friends!). 

Find the full list HERE

Lots of people have differing opinions about how much of everything you need to bring with you. For cutlery and crockery, I’d recommend bringing a set of 4 because that’s how most things are sold, it means you don’t have to do as much washing up because there will always be spares, and you have enough if your friends come over! It also isn’t worth spending tonnes of money on your kitchenware because it is likely to get broken or ‘go missing’ (ie someone took it and doesn’t want to give it back), and you can cheaply replace most things. Also, going back to one of my first pieces of advice, think about your routine at home. If you never bake cakes or cookies at home, you’re not going to start now, so there is no need to buy everything before moving to university.

Bedroom:

  • Mattress protector, 
  • Duvet and pillows,  
  • Blankets (very good for the winter and if you have people come to stay), 
  • Laundry bin/basket (does not have to be anything fancy, can just be a big ikea bag that you used to move in), 
  • Clothes hangers, 
  • Alarm clock (optional, some people prefer to just use their phone’s alarm), 
  • Desk lamp (check to see if your accommodation provides this), 

Find the full list HERE

Clothing:

  • Casual/everyday clothes (consider what you wear on a daily basis), 
  • Underwear, 
  • Dressing gown and slippers, 
  • Winter coat/jacket, 
  • Gloves, hat, scarf (think about whether you can bring these after you’ve moved in – they could take up a lot of space), 
  • Sportswear/swimwear (only bring these if you’re really going to use them. Unless you’re lucky enough to be at university near the beach, you’re unlikely to need 5 different sets of swimwear), 
  • Fancy dress (there will always be some form of fancy dress going on). 

Find the full list HERE

Deciding what clothes to take can be overwhelming, but the best thing to do is really think about what you wear on a daily basis. There is no point bringing that really beautiful fancy dress if you’re never going to have an occasion to wear it. Also, wardrobe space at university accommodation can be very limited, so it’s important to not bring too much!

Bathroom:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste, 
  • Washbag (a must-bring item if you have a shared bathroom), 
  • Handsoap, 
  • Shampoo and conditioner, 
  • Shower gel, 
  • Deodorant, 
  • Perfume, 
  • Razor and shaving cream, 
  • Towel x2, 
  • Hand towel, 
  • Flannel, 
  • Hairbrush and hair care products, 
  • Toilet roll, 
  • Tampons/Sanitary Pads/other period products,
  • Bathroom bin. 

Healthcare:

  • Personal medication and prescriptions (make sure you sign up to your General Practitioner (GP) at university as soon as possible so that you don’t miss any medication), 
  • Basic first aid (someone will inevitably hurt themselves at some point and having plasters on hand is very useful), 
  • Details of your GP and doctors surgery, 
  • Glasses and/or contact lenses, 

Find the full list HERE

Miscellaneous:

  • Sturdy bag/rucksack, 
  • Photographs of friends and family (will make your bedroom feel so much more cozy), 
  • Small sewing kit, 
  • Matches/lighter, 
  • Books/DVDs/Boxsets, 
  • Board/card games, 
  • Hairstyling equipment, 
  • Bike, helmet and lock (only bring these if you will actually use them, and make sure to check if your accommodation has bike storage!)

You can print or alter this list to suit your needs, but it’s important that you bring anything that is special to you. This room will be your home for a year, and you should bring whatever you need to make it feel safe for you – this might be a comfort blanket, a specific photo or even your childhood teddy! You don’t have to spend all of your money on buying brand new things for your bedroom. 

Finally, here are some things you DON’T need to bring:

  • A toastie maker (you will never use it), 
  • An iron and ironing board (again, you will never use it), 
  • Very formal clothes and shoes (it is unlikely that you will have an opportunity to wear them. You’re better off having 1-2 nice, smart outfits that are versatile and can be worn anywhere),
  • Your A-Level notes – I promise you won’t need them and they will just take up valuable space. 

Written by Hannah, First Year Law Major Student