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Freshers’ guide to what to take to university – from those who’ve done it

The Guardian logo The Guardian 11/09/2018 Lucy Tobin

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‘Virtually no students bring a brolly – that’s mental.’

Students preparing to head off for university already know they need a laptop, bedding and a corkscrew … but what else might come in useful? We asked some seasoned undergraduates.

Johnny Day 21, is studying pharmacy at the University of Bradford. “Take your driving licence, or get a provisional one if you don’t drive, as you will get asked for ID for all sorts of things, including setting up a bank account and entry to clubs. A lost driving licence is cheaper to replace than a passport.”

Conor Murphy 26, is studying sports strength and conditioning at the University of Gloucestershire: “Bring a bicycle – free transport and super convenient. I’ve noticed virtually no students bring a brolly – that’s mental. It rains. I mean, I study in Gloucestershire – Doctor Foster wasn’t sitting in the blazing sun writing poems. Oh, and steal your mum’s hessian shopping bags to carry your stuff back from Tesco.”

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Rachel Harris 20, is studying English and history at the University of Leicester: “I can’t live without my eye-mask – uni curtains are rubbish and basically transparent.”

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‘I use my juicer non-stop - my health was a priority.’

Rowena Bicknell 25, is studying applied psychology at the University of Kent: “Get mobile phone insurance. And don’t pack brand-new text books – you can get these second-hand from the year above or in the library.”

Alice Battle 20, is studying history at the University of Birmingham: “Bring all the fancy dress you own – you’ll be asked to dress up for obscure themes for nights out. Bring speakers – it’s a rarity when music isn’t playing in a fresher flat. A simple cookery book or app means you don’t have to call your mum every time you make a meal, and stops you exclusively eating pasta. I bought chocolate and biscuit selection boxes – an inviting way to make friends. Extra storage boxes to slide under the bed are useful, too – you never quite realise how much stuff you own until you’ve fully moved into your room.”

Molli Benson 20, is studying adult nursing at Kingston University: “A big stash of tin foil – it’s perfect for cooking stuff in the oven without making a mess.”

Ibrahim Mohammed 22, studying psychology at Cambridge: “Bring your seasoning, especially if you’re from an Asian, African or Caribbean household – Chaat masala or Maggi cubes can turn a bland dish to something Gordon Ramsay would approve of.”

‘Flip flops are handy when the fire alarm goes off in the early hours because your housemate is cooking.’

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Sophie Bunce 20, studying English literature with creative writing at the University of East Anglia: “Things I use most are my extension lead (room plugs are never enough), washing up liquid, blanket, portable charger and washing detergent. My parents made me bring clothes pegs, supermarket loyalty cards, framed family photos, a pack of cards and an extra set of cutlery – and I have to admit they’ve all been really useful too.”

Niamh Roberts 21, studying tourism management at the University of Chester: “Student accommodation has little ventilation and distinctive cooking smells. I use my room diffuser or air freshener. Don’t forget flip-flops – you’re likely to be sharing a bathroom, and they’re handy when the fire alarm goes off in the early hours because one of your housemates is trying to cook after a night out. Don’t bother bringing a printer – most work is submitted electronically, and the library has cheap printing.”

Loria-Mae Heywood 32, is studying law at the University of Hull: “As an international student I can’t get home easily so pictures and sentimental things from home make that a bit easier. I also have a map of South America, where I’m from, on my wall to remind me of home.”

Daniel Whitt 20, studying physics at University of Hull: “Bring a travel mug – if you sleep in, you can make a quick coffee, walk out the door and arrive at your lectures on time. For crockery, bring two of everything. You don’t need a full set, it’ll just mean lots of pots piling up that you need to clean.”

‘A travel mug means that if you sleep in you can make a quick coffee and walk out the door.’

Aaron Thornton 29, is studying marketing and advertising at Kingston University: “I use my juicer non-stop – making my health a priority was important for university. And it’s handy for making food such as soups too. I use my Kindle and iPad rather than carrying huge, heavy books around.”

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Jade Padam 21, is studying journalism at the University of Gloucestershire: “I couldn’t live without my grill/toastie maker. You can put so much more in it than just a toastie – I like to do nuggets.”

Charlotte Lem 21, is studying multimedia journalism at the University of Wolverhampton: “Bring an old phone in case yours breaks and you can’t get it fixed for a while. Playing cards or a board game are good – everyone enjoys them.”

Oliver Potter 20, is studying physical education at the University of Bedfordshire: “Ready-made meals are really useful, especially after a long day on placement. And plasters … because of a lack of cooking skills.”

Elizabeth Macgregor 21, is studying architecture at Nottingham Trent University: “A bumbag is great for keeping your wallet and phone safe on a night out, especially when you have no pockets in your fancy dress. An external hard-drive and a torch, for power cuts, are really helpful. Don’t bring candles – you can’t use them in uni rooms as they set off the smoke alarms – or any of your old school notes and books. They will not be useful.”

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