Things You’ll Actually Need at University vs. Things You’ll Bring and Won’t Need

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Moving into university and away from home for the first time can be daunting, especially when you don’t know what to expect from your first year. This is a little guide for all the things you will probably need as a first-year student. During freshers’ week, I realised I had packed too much and still forgot most of the essential things I actually needed. So, here are some items I wish I would have brought, or thought of, when coming to uni.

Clothing Items

If you are like me and have way too many clothes, do not bring your whole wardrobe! With all likelihood, you will just wear the same three outfits for most of the year and regret having brought all those extra clothes. I would recommend just taking your favourite items, the ones you’ll most likely wear, and leave the rest at home. If you end up missing something you can always bring it with you for second term.

One essential clothing item I would recommend getting is a fluffy bathrobe. Lancaster gets very cold and wet and having a bathrobe is such a game-changer (I am not exaggerating it is literally the wettest city in England). Me and most of my flatmates had one or got one throughout the year and were wearing them pretty much all day, every day.

Flip flops or sliders are also something I would urge you to bring. Shared bathrooms on campus can get a bit grim, and sliders will be a great thing to wear while showering without getting in contact with any germs on the floor.

Kitchen Items

There is a whole list of things you will need for your kitchen in first year, most of which you can purchase once you are already in Lancaster. If you want a more in-depth list of what to take, one place to check out is Refillar’s Facebook page – they will be posting a comprehensive list of sustainable cooking utensils for uni.

Two things I would personally advise you to bring are oven mittens and enough plates. In my first year flat, one person out of twelve brought oven mittens. You will definitely use them, at least for pizza or burgers. Be sure to bring enough plates and mugs with you, although nothing you feel too attached to as they will probably break at some point. Each one of my flatmates lost a favourite cup, and we all wished we would have left them *safe* at home.

Laundry Items

Doing laundry on campus will most likely be a substantial part of your first-year at uni. While there are washing machines and driers in all of the colleges, the driers aren’t very reliable. It usually takes more than one spin for clothes to dry, which will end up costing you quite a bit of money. Therefore, I would recommend bringing a drying rack with you, so that you don’t have to just randomly hang up your wet clothes all over your room. It will also come in useful to dry your towels after a shower as the bathrooms on campus don’t have great towel racks. Something to look into would be a radiator drying rack which will be useful for drying clothes a bit quicker.

Besides a drying rack, I would advise you to bring a laundry basket. This will help to keep your room tidier and will make carrying your laundry across campus a lot easier.

Something that is only partially laundry related is a mattress liner. You never know what happened on your university mattress before moving in! Besides that, when you spill something or start your period unexpectedly, it is always safer to have a mattress liner to prevent you having to pay for a new mattress (it also makes the bed a lot comfier)!

Décor Items

I am a home décor sucker and absolutely loved decorating my room in first year. It made me feel more at home at uni and made studying in my room much easier. I would highly recommend bringing photos, posters, plants and pretty much anything that will make you feel cosy and comfortable. However, you can always buy home décor in Lancaster if you are unsure about how you want to decorate your room. Personally, pictures, books and pillows did the job, but there are various ways to make your uni room feel like your new home.

Additionally, storage containers will become your new best friend. There is a distinct lack of drawers and storage space in most of the uni accommodations and bringing some cute storage containers will keep everything more organised and tidier. You can find some cheap ones either online or in town, for instance, at TK Maxx.

Entertainment/Technology Items

Something worth considering is a printer. I bought mine online once I had already arrived for around £25 and it was really worth it. There is a sound printing system on campus, but especially in second year (and for last-minute deadlines), a printer comes in very handy.

Additionally, ear plugs (or if you can afford them, noise-cancelling headphones) will be a lifesaver. As you will most likely live with other students there will be noise a lot of the time. For studying and sleeping some form of noise-cancelling will be essential and help you focus and rest when you need to. 

My first-year flatmates and I got ourselves a projector for our living room area, and because we divided the cost, it ended up being really affordable. We had many fun movie and game nights with our projector, and it made our whole first-year experience so much better. Obviously, this is something you should get once you have already arrived and discussed with your flatmates, but it is always a good idea to have in mind.

Besides that, I would definitely take a few books. In my first year I only read three books during term time. However, just having the possibility to escape from uni life or just to relax by yourself for a bit is great. There are some excellent used book stores in town, so if you ever feel the need for a book, you will also be able to find one in Lancaster.

However, what is most important is that you do not panic if you forget something. It is always better to pack light as you will most likely only use half the stuff you bring. Whatever you end up forgetting you can always buy once you are in Lancaster. There is a variety of shops you can go to for kitchen, cleaning and décor supplies, so don’t worry too much. As long as you bring a few things that will make you feel at home and comfortable in your room at uni then you have brought everything that matters. On an end note, make sure to try and spend as much time as you can with your new flatmates (as far as corona will allow you to), because otherwise, you might regret it during your later years at uni.

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