The most useful gift for someone heading off to uni.
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
It's that time of year where students around the country are getting ready to move to pastures new. The excitement of becoming a university student and possibly moving out of home into student accommodation. For most it's exciting, for some of us like me, not so much! I was desperate to stay at home but my mother had told me quite definitely it doesn’t matter how close the university is you are staying at their accommodation. I think she had a fear that if I didn’t move out to go to uni I might not ever actually fly the nest from the family home!!
I moved into the halls of residence which were on campus and catered for, so essentially you’d think there's not much more you need to pack other than a few basic cooking things, your clothes and books and stationary. Oh my, I couldn’t have been more wrong!!! There are certain things that you expect will be there when you’re at home, you generally just take them for granted. This isn’t the case when you move out, obviously you leave all that behind and so here is a list of what actually a new university student needs to take with them! When someone I know is about to head off and I want to get them a leaving gift, this is actually what I buy!!!
A bucket - yes the humble bucket!
Laughable as it is who would ever think of buying one to move into halls of residence! I certainly didn’t take one but when I got to my student room I was rather lacking in furniture compared to eveyone else. Turns out my room had actually been recently converted from what was….the toilets, but that's a whole other story! Because of this I think they’d thrown together any random bits of furniture they could find to make up the room so one of the first things I had to do was visit the local Wilko's to do some emergency shopping. On the list, a bucket! I didn’t have a waste paper bin and being a very thrifty student I thought, 'well a bucket is slightly bigger, stronger and half the price so I'll get one and use that.'
It really is a multi tasking item. Not only was it the waste paper bin, but it also got used for carrying things to the car, especially when you went home on the holidays and needed extra packing space. It had washing soaked in it when I dropped something down a top and needed to use a soak in stain remover and I could have used it as an emergency vessel after a heavy night out drinking (but surprisingly I never needed to!). I’m pretty sure there were probably a million other uses too but it was so long ago I can't remember them all! That bucket stayed with me my whole 3 years of my course and was so useful that when I finally finished I actually passed it on to a friend who was about to head off to uni. I know she took it with her because the first time she needed to use it she sent me a message laughing about what a randomly useful present this was!
A carrier bag.
I know the world is trying to go plastic free, but sometimes there are those moments when you just need a carrier bag. I'm by no means wasteful with them; in my house growing up (as I should think there were in most houses) there was always a stash of carrier bags in a cupboard somewhere, stored away after shopping trips. Although I would like to add that I bet most of you didn’t grow up in a house where they were all neatly folded into small rectangles flat as pancakes lined up in an old 4 litre ice cream tub! I mean is it any wonder I ended up with the organisational skills I possess!!!!
So in my first couple of days of uni the great British rain didn't fail to appear and was pouring down. The thing is I was living on campus and for some reason I hadn’t really thought about transporting books around?! In my head I was just going to pick up the ones I needed and walk across the grounds to my lectures - what was I thinking?! Rather naive of me I've probably just seen far too many films where the college student turns up to lectures with a ring binder file and a pencil case in hand, but lets face it, it rarely rains on such films either! My lectures weren’t far away (they would probably take 2 minutes to walk there) but this rain was heavy. I’ll put them in a carrier bag I thought, but oh no I didn’t have a carrier bag! Who goes away and thinks I must pack some carrier bags? Turns out no one, as none of my new neighbours had one either!
A roll of bin liners
Much along the same reasoning as needing a carrier bag, sometimes you need one! When you realise that you haven’t got enough space in the really cute laundry bag you bought, lets face it you picked one that was ‘nice’ rather than practical and it got full much quicker than you expected. They even come in handy if you need some extra packing material when you go home for the weekend or the holidays. Students don't care, it's their right not to, it's perfectly acceptable to get on the train to go home carrying 2 bin liners!
Jar or Tupperware - spare storage of some sort.
The root of this comes from a rather unusual experience and I'm certainly not suggesting that this will happen to everyone - most likely not but I still think its something valid to pack!
On my first day of uni we were all lined up and processed through a large hall to go for a medical (turns out you didn’t actually have to have this done but they neglected to tell us!). You had to have a few general checks and then I got to one desk and the lady said ‘Did you bring a urine sample with you?’. My surprised reply was ‘I didn’t know I had to’?!!!!!! ‘Thats okay,' she said 'If you could do one in the next week and drop it into the doctors surgery for us that would be great.’ Although a rather strange request I thought it best to be polite and obliging and so I asked if they had a sample pot I could take away with me. ‘Oh no,’ she said ‘Just put it in a clean jam jar or something’.
I think this was the point where I just thought, what is happening (??!!!!?) and also I was fighting off a fit of giggles! All I could think was, I've been here a day, I’ve not even bought a jar of jam with me let alone eaten the whole thing within 24 hours of being here?!!! I mean why would I and if I did I'm sure I'd be on such a sugar high that they’d be calling me back from the sample to check that I didn’t have diabetes?!!!
So a little tub of any variety is always a handy thing to have tucked away in case of emergencies!
Generally you’re not allowed candles in halls of residence and a torch is always useful incase of a power cut or for a variety of midnight student antics! Probably playing midnight tag somewhere, obviously grown up enough to leave home still young enough to enjoy ‘playing’!
Elastic bands and a ball of string.
You never know when you’re going to need either!! To be used for a whole host of reasons, anything from replacing a shoelace to making a washing line!
A packet of biscuits - ones with lots in them!
These are an incredible icebreaker for chatting to new people and forging new friendships. I mean there's not many people who don’t like a biscuit and offering them round you might just find a new friend.
So there it is, my few university essentials that you need to take but would never think about. A great little going away gift and best of all at a nice money conscious price!
P.S. did I mention you can put all the things in the bucket and use that as the gift bag/hamper to hold it all?!