Post written by Georgia Harris
Results Day has been and gone, and many prospective first-year students now face the famous ‘big shop’ to stores like IKEA, essential for preparing to live away from home. Hopefully I can save you a bit of space in your car (and money!) by sharing with you the items commonly bought for university that I don’t consider particularly vital for first-year survival.
Excess Kitchen Gear
Be honest with yourself: are you really going to hand-grate cheese? Or peel vegetables? Will you actually bake for your flatmates all the time? If you’re certain that you will, fab! But if not, maybe leave the whisk, wooden spoons and 6-pack of saucepans at home.
Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing a kitchen with quite a few other people (probably at least 5, depending on the size of your flat/halls), which means you’ll probably only have a cupboard or two to yourself for both your cooking equipment and your food. I have one frying pan, one saucepan and one baking tray at uni, and I find that that’s enough to make all my meals – if you need anymore (e.g., if you’re cooking for other people), you can always borrow from your flatmates (but make sure to ask first and clean items after you’ve used them!).
For other kitchen bits, I’ve found that 2 is the magic number: I have 2 of each piece of cutlery (2 forks, knives, tablespoons, and teaspoons) and 2 of different pieces of crockery (2 small bowls, big bowls, small plates, big plates, daytime glasses, wine glasses and mugs) and they’ve been plenty. It means you have enough to cook for another person, but it’s not too much to wash up. This also applies to tea towels – I have one downstairs and one in my room, so I always have a clean one spare.
It’s a good idea to buy distinctive cutlery so it’s easier to keep track of which are yours, but otherwise you can mark the handles with nail polish: I painted mine bright pink and put my room number in purple over the pink, so it would really stand out (you can see them in the picture below).
Finally, your kitchen will almost definitely include kitchenware like a toaster, microwave and kettle, so don’t waste your money on those! If you get there and something’s missing, the cost can be split between all housemates.
Things You Won’t Wear
It’s so tempting to bring your whole wardrobe to uni (‘just in case’), but try and fight the urge. Only bring things you think you’ll realistically wear; you probably won’t have loads of storage space, so you don’t want the space you do have to be taken up unnecessarily (especially as you’ll probably buy clothes over the year that you’ll wear more often). I can fit all my clothes into 2 IKEA bags, and I’ve found that to be more than enough.
For instance, don’t bring summer clothes when you move in in September, because you won’t wear clothes for warm weather until about Easter – you can swap out your wardrobe during the Easter break by taking your winter clothes home and bringing summer clothes back. However, I would recommend bringing one or two outfits that you can use as fancy dress or a Halloween costume!
As a stationery lover, this is difficult for me too. However, if you think you’ll be doing most of your work online, like making lecture notes on a laptop or tablet, you can save money by not splurging on loads of fancy stationery. For example, I bought loads of ball push pins, only to come to uni and find I didn’t have a pin board!
It’s definitely a good idea to bring pens, a highlighter and a couple of notepads with you regardless, for quick notes in seminars or in case your laptop runs out of charge in the middle of a lecture. Make sure you go to the fairs during Welcome Week, as many stalls will give you free stationery!
The University of Manchester’s library service is brilliant: I haven’t had to buy a single book for my course because every book I’ve needed has been available online as an eBook. Therefore, it’s worth checking the library catalogue for your required reading materials before splurging on expensive textbooks.
Toilet Roll (Shared Bathroom)
If you’re in accommodation which has shared bathroom facilities your bathroom will be cleaned by university cleaners and toilet roll will be provided, so you don’t need that 24-pack!
Candles and Other Prohibited Items
It’s worth checking the terms and conditions of your accommodation agreement before you buy something that isn’t allowed in your room – for example, you won’t be allowed any cooking or electrical kitchen equipment, heating devices, or anything that can be considered a fire hazard, like candles and incense. If in doubt, email firstname.lastname@example.org to double check.