It's time for the next instalment of my Guide to Starting University series. So far I've talked about things to do before you go and money, but today it's time to start thinking about packing up all your belongings ready to move into your new student accommodation!
Packing for uni can be quite daunting and I dread doing it each year, but remember, the odds are you're not going to the other side of the world and anything you forget can be brought or sent to you if needed. Obviously if you are going to the other side of the world you'll probably be a lot more restricted in how much you can pack, and the important things will be very important, however this guide is mainly focused on people moving to uni's within the UK.
Obviously the most important question is, what do I need to take? And my answer is, basically everything you use. It's not the most helpful answer, but if you used it while at home the chances are you'll use it at uni! There are some really great check lists out there detailing everything you need, and rather than just repeat them again I'll leave you some links you can check out to make sure you've ticked everything off.
The Student Room has a pretty comprehensive list which I always have a read through when packing, but for a more personal view, Laura from Blonde Velvet Lover has a great list I'd also recommend. Make sure to check what is included in your halls before buying things, you may find you've already got an iron, toaster and kettle, however these things might not be provided so it's always best to check.
To give my view on what you should take I'm going to do a list of some things I'd recommend having that you may not have thought about before. Obviously these won't be essentials for everyone, but you may find they come in handy.
Earplugs - I guarantee there will be nights where you've got to be awake early and the rest of your flat/block/halls doesn't and they don't give a crap about you getting a good nights sleep. At these times earplugs are perfect. They also work great If the flat mate in the room next to you is a little uh, 'loud', because you really don't want to hear that!
Bedside Lamp - Your room will probably come with a desk lamp so you can always use that, but I personally found it nice having a lamp on my bedside table that I could turn on and off from bed, and it also wasn't as bright as the desk lamp I'd been given.
Playing Cards - You will need these, and the odds are you'll end up going through more than one set as a flat. They'll get sticky from being covered in alcohol and you're almost guaranteed to loose a few, but card games are great for pre drinks and getting to know people.
Doorstop - It makes moving all you stuff in a lot easier as you can wedge open either your front door or your bedroom door while you bring in all your things. It's also best to keep your door open while all your flatmates arrive so you can say hello and start chatting. During the year it's also useful for keeping open your own door, or the door to your kitchen.
Mugs & Teabags - Or coffee if thats your drink of choice. Once you've spent however long unpacking all your belongings you're probably going to want a nice cup of tea, having tea bags on you when you arrive is a good idea that your parents will be thankful for. Also I love having lots of different mugs that I've collected over the years, it's a nice way to bring a bit of home with you.
Hangers - Bring these with you, lots of my flat mates had to go out and buy some just to hang up their clothes. I just brought one for every item I took out of my wardrobe.
White Board - You will probably have a noticeboard on your wall in your halls, but if you don't I'd definitely recommend getting one. If you have got one I'd still recommend a white board, it's great for jotting down reminders or writing out your weekly schedule. I use mine a lot especially around deadlines when I need to plan my time.
Contraception - Pretty self explanatory. Don't have sex without it. You're at uni, you can't afford a baby right now, and STIs aren't cool.
Cheap Plates, Glasses etc. - If you manage to finish first year with any still intact you've done well. You/ your flatmates/ your friends/ random drunk people will smash things, especially glasses. When things get piled up on the side waiting to get washed the odds are eventually someone will try to balance one more thing and inevitably knock everything off on the floor. Hence the cheap plates.
Phone Charger - Do not forget this!
Speakers - If you've already got some make sure to bring them, great for flat parties, or just any time you want to listen to music, although make sure to be considerate to everyone else you live with, not everyone wants to listen to your music, or your singing for that matter!
Calendar/Diary - Whether it's a calendar, a planner, a diary or an app on your phone, make sure you have some way of keeping track of the things you need to do and the deadlines for your assignments. You don't wanna realise the day before that your essay is due at 9am and you haven't even read the question!
A pretty big part of student living is sharing, whether it's sharing your bathroom with 3 other people, or sharing a kitchen with 8, there is going to be some sharing involved. This isn't always easy especially when you haven't picked who you're living with. The odds are your kitchen will be a mess, people won't wash up and no one will want to clean the bathroom.
However sharing can also be great especially when it comes to knowing what to take. You do not need 5 kettles and 3 toasters, you need 1. If you can speak to all your flatmates online before moving in I'd suggest arranging who brings what, if not then maybe leave it until you arrive and all contribute a few pounds to buy a kettle. It might also be a good idea not to bring all the kitchen utensils you can think of, if you can share with your flatmates than it saves space and money.
Not everyone is going to want to share of course, I was lucky that we decided as a flat to all share, this did mean my things were sometimes on the side not washed up when I wanted them, but it also meant I didn't have to go out and buy a potato peeler because I didn't have one. If the idea of sharing isn't something you're comfortable with then say something, don't feel pressured into letting other people use your things if you don't want. On the other hand don't be unreasonable, let your flatmates borrow your things with the condition they wash it up. You never know when you might need something of theirs.
The actual process of packing is long and boring. My tips would be to do it in sections, clothing, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, uni things, important stuff, electricals etc. If you're worried about forgetting things make a list and tick it off as you pack. Also if you're packing it into a car it's good to have some big suitcases and boxes but then also lots of smaller bags than can be squished in. Also remember your room at uni probably isn't very big so you're not going to want to have massive suitcases taking up space!
Basically, don't stress about packing, take it a bit at a time and take whatever you want to take. If you forget something go buy it or get it sent to you, and also remember to share nicely, that means both letting people borrow your things but also washing up the things you borrowed! Halls is an amazing experience both good and bad, and after being there for a week you'll wonder why you worried so much about what to pack!