This time ten years ago, I was preparing to start my journey into the world of University. Ten years is a long time, but weirdly it still feels like yesterday because time seems to whizz by so quickly. I know that quite a few of you will be heading off to Uni over the next few weeks so I thought that I would do a little series of posts to help you to settle in no matter which Uni you're headed towards.
Of course, these tips are pulled from my own experience of University, and everyone else will probably have had completely different experiences, but I hope that it will help people out a little bit :)
So, I decided to start off this mini series with my Top 10 Things to take to Uni. Ultimately, this is the stuff that you'll (probably) need whilst living in Halls of Residence, rather than things you'll need for your studies. I might do that one in another post, maybe.
It is amazing how many people arrived at Halls when I was there without a quilt, quilt cover, sheets, pillows or anything. Yes, some places do provide them and some will even loan you some if you forget, but trust me when I say that you will be thankful you took your own!
A girl in my flat didn't take any bedding, and ended up spending the first week using the most disgusting bedding that probably ever existed.
Seriously, buy your own, know that no one else has pee'd or puked all over it and know that it will smell "normal"!
2. Mattress ProtectorMy mattress, in Halls, was the most irritating thing. Whilst most mattresses that I've ever come across are made from a rough fabric-type material, my Halls mattress was made of a smooth material, I guess because students have a habit of peeing and puking all over their beds, and this makes it easier for them to be cleaned.
However, from my experience this shiny material is also a complete nightmare for keeping your bed sheet actually on the bed. I got so sick of it coming off in the night and putting it back on, that it was like a dream come true when I went out and bought a mattress protector that helped to keep the sheet on.
You don't have to go out and buy a really expensive protector that is memory foam or whatever, unless you have a really uncomfortable mattress of course, but a cheap(ish) one should do if, like me, you just wanted to keep the sheet on the bed!!
3. KitchenwareDon't go overboard with your kitchenware. Before I went to Uni, I bought a full set including several large plates, small plates and soup bowls and I quickly regretted it. The problem that I found in Halls was that once "some" (note: not all) flatmates had used up their own plates and mugs etc, they moved on to other peoples instead of washing up their own.
If things do get out of hand, don't be afraid to move stuff into your bedroom. It sounds extreme, but sometimes it's necessary.
4. Bottle and Can Openers, and CorkscrewIt's easy to forget how important it is to have each of these items. Even if you don't drink wine very often, you can guarantee that when you do have a bottle, no one is going to have a corkscrew! It's like Sod's Law because everyone forgets.
It is virtually impossible to live a student life without a can opener. Whether you're eating soup, spaghetti hoops, beans, peas or whatever, you will need a can opener!
5. Blanket or ThrowAfter arriving in the September, it wasn't until the January that I discovered how to work the radiator in my bedroom. It wasn't just a simple case of switching it on at the wall, it was a case of understanding the weird settings. So, I strongly recommend taking a blanket or throw for if and/or when it gets cold and you can't figure out the controls, or don't even have any control over it.
6. A Fan
At the other end of the spectrum, halls generally (although some do) don't have air conditioning, so when spring and summer hits, rooms can get quite warm, and windows aren't always a huge help. So, having a fan is a huge benefit!
7. CushionsMost flats in Halls don't have living rooms, so it is guaranteed that a lot of time will be spent in bedrooms, either yours or your flatmates. So, I think it's nice if during the day you can convert your bed into a sort-of sofa using cushions, as it makes it a bit comfier to sit on.
8. Laptop or PCI don't know how anyone, these days, can get through Uni without a laptop or PC of their own. Yeah, you can do a lot of studying in the library, but sometimes that's just not practical. Nevertheless, they're handy for other stuff too. For example, if you have a particularly small bedroom or are trying to cut down on stuff you take, consider sacrificing your TV and replacing it with a computer. You can watch most TV shows on the BBC iPlayer, 4OD etc, and I only wish that we had this option when I was at Uni!!
However, if you do take a TV, don't forget that you will need to buy a TV Licence!
9. Personal Stuff i.e. PostersFor most students (myself included), moving to University is your first time living away from home, and it's easy to get incredibly home sick. For me, the key to pushing that aside a little is by really personalising your room as much as you can get away with.
Most Halls won't let you hang things from the walls, but from my experience, they're not going to tell you off for putting up posters, probably because even if it's officially "not allowed", practically everyone is going to do it!
Whilst at Uni, I had four main posters: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and David Beckham!
I also found that it helped to have photos of friends, and birthday cards etc to make the otherwise quite cold room seem more homely.
10. Lots of ChangeThe Washing Machines at my Halls of Residence, cost £1.20 and as such only accepted £1 and 20p coins, which was really annoying, because in those first few weeks we were always scrounging 20p coins off each other, as you just don't think to save them.
In the end, I started saving up all my 20p's so that I always had a supply and quite a few times, my flatmate would ask to swap some money for 20p's!!
It's not always easy to predict which coins the machines are going to take, because they're all different, so try and save up a good supply of all of them, just in case. You will be thankful you did.