What to take to uni: 12 absolutely essential student items

09 Aug 2019
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

Google ‘what to take to university’. Did you find all the enormous lists? There’s no way you could need or buy all that stuff. It’d cost you a fortune, and you’d need a lorry to get it to uni.

In our experience, less is more.

Aside from the really obvious things like bedding and clothes, we think there are just 12 things every student absolutely must have.

1) Stock pot

A stock pot is a massive saucepan with a handle on either side. They’re perfect for making one-pot dinners, like a jambalaya or stew. They’re also ideal for cooking a big batch of something and freezing it for later - exactly what you want to be doing at university.

Read more: 52 Easy one-pot recipes at the BBC Good Food website

2) Casserole dish

If you’re not using your stock pot, it’ll be because you’re making a pasta bake - the undisputed champion of student dinners. You’ll need a large ovenproof casserole dish, plus ideas for making it a bit more interesting than just pasta and cheese.

Read more: 34 Pasta bake recipes at the BBC Good Food website

3) Tupperware

Stock pots and casserole dishes are for making big, family dinners. The point of doing that at uni is threefold. It lets you:

  1. save money by turning one set of ingredients into four or five meals
  2. cut down the time and effort you have to spend cooking (and washing up)
  3. fill up your freezer with food so you’ll always have something to eat

Go for the medium to large sizes, and get the glass ones if you can find them cheap enough.

4) Running shoes

Whether you’re on the way to lectures, the library, or town, you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet as a student. The gym, a good jog, or a long walk are also great for relieving stress. So pack some running trainers - your feet will thank you.

5) Headphones

The universal sign for ‘Don’t speak to me’. When you need some alone time, you reach for the Beats*. But headphones are also good at transmitting sound to your ears - whether that’s relaxing music or concentration-boosting white noise.

Read more: 45 Easy ways to relax in your room

*Other headphone brands are available.

6) LED candles

Relaxation and down-time are vital at university, when so much of your time is taken up with deep thinking. And when you want to unwind, the ‘big’ light just won’t do. Get some LED candles or tealights and bask in the warm, soft glow.

7) Water bottle

There’s a good reason we’re constantly being told to drink more water. Dehydration makes us tired and sloppy - two things you don’t want to be as a student. Get yourself a reusable water bottle and, if it’s plastic, make sure it’s BPA-free.

Read more: Hydration: Are you drinking enough water?

8) Reusable coffee cup

Need a coffee before you can function? A daily flat white will cost a staggering amount of money over an academic year, and all those single-use cups are terrible for the environment. Get a nice cup, buy some instant, make your own, save money, heal the world.

9) Backpack

Hollywood movies are full of college students clutching books and binders as they skip across campus. Back in the UK, we’ve got that rain. Invest in a backpack now and do your books - and back - a favour. You’ll use it every day, so get a good one.

10) Dressing gown

Shared living means there’s a real possibility of seeing a flatmate on your late night dash to the toilet/fridge. Take a dressing gown so you can leave your room with dignity. Also, few things in life are more comforting when you’re not feeling great.

11) Ear plugs

Yep, another fact of shared living: different schedules. Some people are night owls, others cherish their 8.5 hours’ sleep. Some people are sitting down to work while others are getting ready to go out. One solution is foam ear plugs. But please use carefully.

12) Laundry bag with handles

Those fancy wooden and wicker laundry baskets might look nice, but at uni you’ll want something more practical. You’ll want something that doubles up as a laundry carrier, so you can easily get your things to and from the laundry room.

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Staff writer at The Common Room at The Common Room