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What to take to uni: a complete checklist of student essentials

The time has come. You’ve counted down the days to leaving home and moving to a new city (or even a new country) and starting university. Before the big move and the fun of orientation week begins, there’s one last step—packing your bags. Avoid forgetting important items by using this complete checklist of what to take to uni.

Packing for... your bedroom

When living in shared student accommodation, your bedroom is a sanctuary. It’s a place to relax and a place to study when you don’t make the trip to the library. Your university may provide certain items to get you up and running, but it’s best to check beforehand.

Most important, don’t forget bedding! Typically, a bedframe and mattress is supplied, but you’ll need:

  • Comforter and quilt covers
  • Pillows
  • Pillow cases
  • Bottom sheets
  • A warm blanket
  • Mattress protector

Double check your bed’s dimensions if staying in halls. If you have limited space or you’re moving to a foreign country, consider buying bedding when you arrive. It adds a trip to a homeware store, but removes a large bulk from what you have to carry.

Non-essential bedroom items

If living in shared housing, your bedroom is the main space to make your mark and express your personality. Deciding what to take to uni includes non-essential, decorative items, such as:

  • Posters are sold at student fares, but you may want to take personal favorites from home.
  • Photographs to remind you of home.
  • According to NBC News, plants improve productivity and focus up to 15 percent, reduce stress and boost mood—not to mention making your bedroom beautiful.
  • Musical instruments to help you relax between lectures.
  • Fairy lights for maximum coziness.
  • Bean bags or cushions for when you invite people over.

Packing for... the bathroom

Some students share shower and toilet facilities, while others have en-suite bathrooms provided. The layout of your bathroom will help you decide what to take to uni. Essentials can include a bath mat, soap, a toothbrush holder, bath towels, hand towels, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and of course, toilet roll. You may need the following toiletries:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant
  • Moisturizer
  • Shaving foam
  • Razor
  • Hairbrush
  • Make-up remover
  • Pain killers
  • Nail clippers
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Medication
  • Contraception
  • Sanitary items

Packing for... the kitchen

In student accommodation, the kitchen is a hub of social activity. Certain items will be supplied by your university—usually a toaster, microwave, and appliances such as fridge, freezer, and oven. Keep kitchen utensils to a minimum; they’re easily purchased one you’ve arrived.

Deciding what to take to uni depends on whether you’ll mostly cook at home or use your university's catering service. Either way, consider taking the following basics:

  • A sharp knife and chopping board
  • Mugs (avoid taking a personal favorite—they may go missing!)
  • Cutlery—two knives, two forks, two teaspoons, two tablespoons
  • 2x big plates, small plates, cereal bowls
  • Saucepans—at least one big and one small
  • Frying pan
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoons and spatulas
  • Bottle opener
  • Tin opener
  • Cheese grater
  • Sieve
  • Measuring jug
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Tea towel
  • Tupperware
  • A cookbook—for when feeling adventurous or cooking with housemates
  • A water bottle for lectures and the library
  • A flask for brewing your own tea or coffee

Purchase other items, such as food, drink, spices, condiments, bin bags, and foil, when you arrive—or take some with you if there’s extra space. If you’re a coffee lover, remember to take your favorite coffee-making device, such as a cafetière or Moka Pot. Brewing coffee (or tea) is a great way to bond with your new housemates, too


What to take to university for... study

University is a time for studying, as well as socializing. You’ll want to be prepared for lectures and seminars, but it pays to wait for specific information on your modules and course outline before deciding what to take to uni. A select few items are necessary, including:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Notepads (A4 and A5 sizes)
  • Highlighters
  • An academic diary
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Stapler
  • Hole punch
  • Plastic wallets

Insider tip: most universities provide reading lists at the beginning of modules. Usually there are special offers to buy second-hand textbooks from returning students, so hold off on buying before you go.


Other essential items to take to university

You’ve packed items for your bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, and you’ve collected your study essentials… but you’re not done yet! You’ll need to pack the rest of your essential items in the form of documents, electronics, and clothes. Smaller items, such as paperwork and electronics, may be left behind—so it’s worth paying extra attention to this section.

Essential documents

Amidst the excitement of packing and prepping for the journey ahead, documents are easily mislaid. It’s worthwhile taking a folder containing all relevant paperwork. Be sure of what to take to uni before you set off, and check with your university if unsure.

Your first week of university will be filled with lots of administrative tasks, such as registering with a local doctor, confirming financial support, and registering for various university services. Missing documents will add extra time and unnecessary hassle, so make sure you bring:

  • Passport/ID
  • Passport photos
  • Driver’s license (if you have one)
  • Bank card
  • Bank account details
  • A bank statement for proving home address
  • University acceptance letter and other correspondence
  • Accomodation documents or contracts
  • Financial documents for student loans, grants, tuition fees, etc

Electronics

These days, a laptop is essential for taking notes in lectures, writing essays in the library, or watching Netflix at home. A USB stick is useful for transferring documents. Plus check for necessary extension or charging cables. Don’t forget your mobile phone and charger. Further electronics include:

  • Desktop printer: your university library will have printing services, but consider taking your own printer for ease of use.
  • A USB mouse: extra comfort for when you’re tired of the trackpad.
  • Headphones: to shut off the outside world while you study.
  • A television: if you take a TV, make sure you don’t forget to socialize! Try to keep personal use to a minimum or host movie nights for friends.
  • Camera
  • Speakers
  • Games console: useful for winning brownie points with social games such as Mario Kart or FIFA.

Clothes

Last but not least, it’s time to decide what to take to uni to look the part. Pack for different seasons, but leave warmer clothes at home—such as a winter coat, thick jumpers, gloves, and scarves—if you know you’ll return to collect them before winter sets in.

With careful budgeting during your studies and savvy use of student discount, you’ll probably buy new clothes throughout the year. But take enough basics, including:

  • Casual clothes: t-shirts, jumpers, trousers, jeans.
  • Underwear
  • Dressing gown and slippers
  • Shoes: including trainers, casual shoes, and smart shoes.
  • Smart office outfit: be prepared for a part-time job interview or internship.
  • Sportswear/swimwear: in particular, consider which activities you’ll pursue. Avid gym-goers will want to take shorts, running trainers, vests, etc. If there’s a sport you play, such as tennis, take the relevant clothing.
  • Fancy dress: you’ll need it, especially during freshers week.
  • A rucksack, for carrying your laptop, folders, lunch, stationery to lectures and the library.

Consider taking a drying rack and a laundry basket. These take up a fair bit of space, though, so it could be worth buying one when you arrive. You may also talk with your new housemates and choose to buy one to share between you.


Transporting your belongings

As you’re organizing what to take to uni, you’ll thank yourself for arranging your bags and boxes efficiently. Overpacking is easily done, so keep in mind how you’ll transport your belongings to your flat once you arrive. Will you use public transport? Or will family or friends drive you to your destination?

If you’re traveling by car, check your university’s policy on parking outside of student halls—due to the large number of arrivals, universities place parking restrictions or provide set times for unloading.

Transporting bags for overseas students

If you’re studying in a foreign country, you’ll have to be strict when deciding what to take to uni. You’ll need to pack lighter than at-home students, and consider flight regulations to avoid hefty fees at the airport. This isn’t necessarily bad—you’ll only pack what you really need.

Another option is to use an online delivery service to send a separate suitcase once you’ve arrived. This saves the trouble of carrying too much during your initial journey. For a suitcase of up to 20kg, SendMyBag charges:

  • Germany to Spain: €63
  • Spain to the UK: €41
  • France to Italy: €30
  • Italy to Germany: €30
  • UK to France: €32

Final packing tips

Getting everything together can be stressful—work through this guide, section by section, to break down the process. To give yourself the best chance of remembering everything:

  • Start packing a few days before you’re set to leave to ensure you don’t rush and increase the odds of forgetting something.
  • Set reminders in the form of post-its or notes on your mobile for essential items.
  • Pack your belongings into manageable chunks.
  • If possible get help transporting your belongings.
  • If travelling alone, make sure you’re able to carry all your items (semi) comfortably.
  • Leave some non-essential items for a return trip.
  • Remember—it’s not the end of the world if you forget something.

Your money at N26

The start of university is a great time to take control of your money. And with the free N26 bank account’s Statistics feature, you can really benefit from a clear overview of your finances and where your money goes. And the best bit? It only takes a few minutes to open an account!

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