What to Bring to University?
September 9, 2004 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Things to take to university? I'm moving into my (self catered) accommodation in a couple of weeks from now, and as I am sure most of you have been through this before, I was wondering what the absolute essentials are, along with any other tips you can throw at me.
posted by Orange Goblin to Education (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1 medium sized pan
1 wok or deep frying pan
sharp knife, big spoon, thee sets of cutlery, 4 teaspoons
2 plates, 3 mugs, 4 glasses (more can be stolen from pubs)
wooden spatula
3 plates, 2 bowls
enough clothes for three weeks
duvet with cover, undersheet & two pillows.
two big towels.
Music - lots of music and something to play that music on.
posters, and stuff to make a place look nice.
don't bother with consumables, you can always buy these, although it's an idea to take enough food for a couple of days, some instant coffee & something to drink.

I've probably forgotten some stuff, but then you'll definitely forget some things too.
posted by seanyboy at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2004

Don't take anything you can't afford to lose. Your things WILL be stolen.
Part of the fun is making those initial mistakes. Everyone makes them. Don't worry.
Even if you're not, try and be a social monster in those first few weeks.
posted by seanyboy at 1:13 PM on September 9, 2004

A good book. One of those magical ones that makes you feel better and helps you get to sleep if you aren't all pooped out from partying (I mean studying) too hard.

Also - adding to the sharp knife suggestion from above: Bring a chopping knife as well as a paring knife. Always fun to have a big knife to smash food with. :)

Oh - shower shoes if you have a community shower. Pick up one of those shower packs from stores like Target. Comes with almost everything you could want. One of those was my saviour at Burning Man and thats a much dirtier place than a dorm. In theory.
posted by Lizc at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2004

Toaster oven
Electric kettle or coffeemaker
Dustbuster (much handier than a vacuum if you have a small place)
Cutting board
Mixing bowl
Nail clippers/file
Hammer/screwdriver/tool set
Can opener
posted by widdershins at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2004

Bring a quality backpack or messenger bag. You will always have a lot of books and such to carry around, so you might as well pick out something nice that'll last for years.

Also, there is no more versatile unit of furniture than the plastic milk crate. You can use zip-ties to turn these into almost any kind of furniture - we had milk crate shelves, a milk crate A/V stand, and even a milk crate table we made from crates and an old door. They make decent seats in a pinch, too. Don't bother bringing these to school, though, just grab them from behind the supermarket or canteen once you get there.
posted by vorfeed at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2004

Adding the "Self-catered" (I'm assuming that means you have a kitchen and will be cooking for yourself?) adds a whole nother few boxes, but ...

The best advice I can give you: Take the bare minimum you *think* you need and then ask your parents to ship or bring you stuff as you need it.

My list:
1) A caddy for going to the shower.
2) Two sets of towels, washcloths, etc.
3) Some posters.
4) A laptop and printer and speakers you can plug into the laptop (which you can use as your stereo).
5) Clothes for the season (Shift out clothes as the seasons change.)
6) A bare minimum of reference books. (Dictionary, computer books if you absolutely need them.)
7) School supplies (pens, pencils, pads of paper).
8) A good bookbag
9) If you're living on a large campus, a cheap mountain bike. Make sure you get the seat stem and the wheel hubs replaced with locking ones, or at least ones that require tools to remove.

DON'T bring:
1) Extra furniture, unless you're in an apartment. While it can be cool, it's a pain in the ass to move and to find room for.
2) A ton of clothes. You'll dress nicely for the first week. It's going to be sweats and jeans after that.
3) Nice jewelry, or anything else that's really expensive. Theft is rampant in dorms.
4) Bedding that you want to use later on again. I'd buy all new bedding, if I were you... a lot of dorm beds, no matter how clean they look, have dust mites and other fun stuff in it that you don't want to bring home and get into *your* bed.
5) A TV. Not only does everyone else have one, but there's communal ones all over the place.
posted by SpecialK at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2004

I agree with the "don't bring anything irreplaceable" comments. No photo albums or memorabilia or the only existing photograph of your dead sibling. Things will get stolen and/or puked on at a party that will spontaneously happen in your room if you have roomates.

I honestly wouldn't even worry about having a computer at first. There will be plenty of them in the library and computer labs. Best to be safe first and know your roomies a little before you start bringing in the valuables.
posted by archimago at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2004

A good alarm clock.
A good alarm clock.
And once again--a good alarm clock.

Signed, academic advisor who is already getting weary of hearing students try to explain why they missed their morning class and hence lost their place in the course.
posted by Kat Allison at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2004

I say: find out if your room is on the first floor or not. If it's not, and if you only have one or two roommates, bring anything you want -- gold ingots, your diamond-encrusted iPod, etc. Just remember: always lock your door. Even when you just step outside to go to the bathroom. That's what lanyard keychains are for. Every single theft I knew about in college happened because people habitually left their doors unlocked.

And bring or buy when you arrive:

- a labeler (like a Brother P-touch);
- tons of manila folders, or hanging folders for your milk cratte filing cabinet;
- in and out boxes;
- an organizer, paper or electronic;
- a laundry bin or laundry bag that hides your laundry away;
- and a camera.

When you start, there will be a ton of stuff you'll need to keep track of: phone numbers, things you signed or need to sign, expenses you've committed to, course materials, lists. The sooner you have a handle on everything, the sooner school will stop being stressful and become awesome.

In my experience, there are two ways to go to college: you can live in utter squalor because it's fun, or you can live like a normal person with a normal life, and still party a lot and learn a lot. My advice is to try to be organized and sane, and to feel like you're living a real life instead of showering once a week while eating only ramen noodles and mini-bagels. You'll have a great time and get more out of life.

Good luck!
posted by josh at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2004

Bring more than one set of sheets, and twice as much underwear as you think you need. You can wear dirty jeans over clean undies, but if they & the sheets are filthy, you will get less action. And I don't care what anyone else says, getting laid is half the point.
posted by dame at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2004

If your have them, all the video game systems with good multi-player games. Keep your door open for all to come in and play, and boom, you know everybody on your floor and then some. Just, for the love of God, do not leave that room with nobody in it unlocked for even a few seconds or they will get stolen.
posted by jmd82 at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2004

Take passport photos, at least 4, 8 for preference. You will be asked for them repeatedly in the first week and queuing at the one machine on campus with all the people who also haven't brought them will be a pain.
I don't think you can rely on having access to a communal TV, if you want one take it with you, you will need a licence of your own. Being the communal TV can help you become part of a social group within your hall of residence. Same with a stereo and decent music collection. Insurance can be worthwhile and should be relatively cheap while you're living on campus. I work in the residential system on a relatively secure UK campus and the crime reports generally include at least one laptop stolen from a student room each week.
Many UK universities will expect you to have your own PC/laptop and it's probably a good idea if you have one, though it's also possible you will be able to pick up a cheap deal on campus in the first few weeks of term. Lots of things are also likely to be available to buy on campus in the first few weeks of term, eg plants, posters and lots more so you will not need to worry too much about them.
Say hi if you're at Warwick.
posted by biffa at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2004

My rule of thumb, if I had to go back to school: don't bring too much stuff. You'll probably bring lots of junk that you don't really need. Make sure to check your list twice and don't bring everything that you THINK would be cool to have.
posted by crazy finger at 2:29 PM on September 9, 2004

collapseable or disposable storage and anything you would pack for a week long trip somewhere (handy personal items in a dedicated case.
a multitool or swiss army thingie and anything else you would pack to survive int he wild. (flares can be handy party lighting)
and trash can trash can trash can
and a not so trash can
posted by ethylene at 3:07 PM on September 9, 2004

Absolutely essential in any communal living situation: sleep mask and earplugs. For the communal bathroom: flip-flops so you don't have to stand in the shower barefooted and a shower caddy to trundle your shower things with you. For the communal washer/dryer: a roll of coins of your realm (in the US, it's quarters) to make getting that laundry done without searching all over for change and handy to have in your room, a length of clothesline and some clothespins to allow air drying of clothing that can't stand the blast furnace temperatures of most commercial dryers. Good luck!I got all of these things at Target - you don't have to spend a lot of money!
posted by Lynsey at 4:35 PM on September 9, 2004

Having just graduated (BA Hons Creative Writing, University of Leeds, Bretton Hall College [2:1]), and being sat, this second, in the student house I live in, I offer the following:

Your sleep mask and earplugs will do no good. Why bother. Drink yourself into an unconscious stupor, so that the dickhead (Liam, invariably) above you's Best Of The 60's CD no longer bothers you.

If you're sharing a corridor (as it was in my halls days) with 5-7 people, get to know them, ffs. They will be your close friends for the first few months, even if they're not your closest at the end of the year. Hopefully, your corridor (or whatever) will lock, so theft shouldn't be too much of a worry.

If you have a computer, turn it off for once. You'll spend plenty of time playing Liero and Marshmallow Duel on the computer cluster PCs, so the only thing you should be doing for entertainment in your room is making love, or playing guitar. Save the geeky IT stuff for your third year, when you're avoiding your dissertation at 5am, and all your housemates are asleep.

Aside from that, all I have is the advice that some guy on SlashDot posted to a similar question this week: Crazy girl may be fun, but they're still crazy. Stay away.

Oh, and... be yourself. Don't try to reinvent yourself because no-one there knows your embarassing past. Don't lie, don't do stuff to impress people, don't be a dick.

Yeah. Universities all over the UK have enough as it is. Don't be a dick.

Oh, and thanks. Now I feel really, really old, and I'm fucking 21.
posted by armoured-ant at 5:18 PM on September 9, 2004

Crazy girls

And, uh, sorry for sounding so didactic.
posted by armoured-ant at 5:20 PM on September 9, 2004

Someone already mentioned the toaster oven, but let me reiterate: a toaster oven is the single most important thing you can bring to college. Also, some Triscuits.
posted by willpie at 7:37 PM on September 9, 2004

I'd highly recommend a rice cooker if you're a rice fan at all. They're very easy to use (push the button), and rice is really cheap.
posted by woil at 12:09 AM on September 10, 2004

Thanks for the advice guys, the general trend seems to be take half of what I was planning, but I have a few questions:

What's a paring knife?
What's a toaster oven (a sandwich toaster?)
What's the problem with being bare foot in the shower? Just the ick factor of standing in someone else's water? Or is there an actual health reason?
posted by Orange Goblin at 1:38 AM on September 10, 2004

Yeah, what is a toaster oven? OG: Find out what your accomodation comes fitted with, all the kitchens here come with toasters and kettles.
You can pick up a few things from communal showers, eg athletes foot, verrucas.
Paring knife is just a smaller knife for cutting up fruit, etc.
Don't forget those passport pictures though! I'll be giving out keys to our new students in 2 weeks and we've decided not to give out keys till we have 2 pics.

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about this, by the end of the first week you'll all be sharing stuff and there'll be plenty of shops wherever you go. Concentrate on meeting people and having a good time. My best advice: Don't be afraid to go knocking on some doors around your hall and introduce yourself on your first day, its likely that pretty much everyone else in your hall will be a first year too and will be happy to have someone to talk to, check out the student's union with, queue up for regisatration with, etc.
posted by biffa at 3:57 AM on September 10, 2004

I'd agree with a few simple, replaceable things to personalise the space - these student places all have identical furniture etc. so a cool wallhanging/sarong/poster is good for covering up acres of white wall space.

That said, biffa's right, there are often poster sales on campus (in the UK at least).

Well-loved CDs and books too - just stuff to make it feel homely - the empty room decorated just like your neighbour's is not an uplifting place after the comforts of home.
posted by penguin pie at 7:19 AM on September 10, 2004

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