‘Mum suggested a handheld vacuum’: must-have items students pack for university | The Guardian clearing hub

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Packing for your very first term at university can feel like a daunting prospect. Will you have room for your prized-but-impractical paella pan? If you leave your childhood teddy behind, will you suffer Toy Story-type flashbacks every time you see your empty pillow? And why is your mum trying to foist a doorstop on you?

“It’s easy to get drawn into overpacking as a student,” says Tom Allingham, of student money website Save the Student. “You’re moving to a totally new city and living by yourself for the first time so, naturally, you’ll want to bring as many of your home comforts as possible. But it’s important to exercise some restraint and only pack what you’ll actually use.” After all, your student accommodation may not have much storage space. Allingham also recommends a few printed photos of family and friends to hang on the walls, for those times you’re missing home.

But while everyone has an opinion on what counts as an “essential”, it’s also important to go with your gut feeling, says Chlöe Louise Little, an architecture student at the University of Reading. “The things people say aren’t essential might be for you,” she explains. “For example, most people advise you not to bring loads of pots and pans, but I like making lots of paella, so the huge pot is essential for me. If it’s something you know you’ll use a lot, then don’t be afraid to bring it!”

If you’re lucky enough to have bagged a place at uni, packing is the first step towards your new life – and, apart from the basics, the things you decide to take with you will be as individual as you are. So we say go ahead and pack Huggsy, your bedtime penguin pal, because you certainly won’t be the only one. Here, three students reveal their most prized possessions for university life:

Carol Murdoch

‘Hiking clears my head’
“I brought my hiking boots with me to university. They are fab for getting me out and meeting other people, and also just being able to find time to breathe, which means I can focus better on my studies, improve my concentration and even get better grades.

“Edinburgh has Arthur’s Seat right in the middle, and is built on seven hills, so there are a ton of places ideal for going for a wander right in the centre of town. My master’s is quite outdoorsy – I often bump into people from my course, so it’s very sociable, too.”

Carol Murdoch, 39, studying for a master’s in learning for sustainability at the University of Edinburgh

Krishan Student headshot
Krishan Prinjha

‘A pack of cards is ideal for freshers’ week’
“I took a pack of playing cards when I left for university, which has turned out to be especially useful during Covid times. Back in my first year, a few of my friends brought different card games like Dobble and Cards Against Humanity, which were really good fun to play during freshers’ week – they were a good way to break the ice. Card games can also very easily be turned into drinking games, be it for pre-drinks before a night out, or for a more relaxed night in.”

Krishan Prinjha, 20, studying international relations and Spanish at Durham University

Lucy Student headshot
Lucy Munnings

‘My mum was appalled by the mess – and suggested a handheld vacuum’
“After visiting me during my first term at uni and being appalled by the mess, my mum suggested that when I came back, I should pack a handheld vacuum cleaner. I’d say I’m a tidy person, but I’ve always hated cleaning and vacuuming.

“Mum bought me a small vacuum cleaner for Christmas. When I moved into a student house, everyone used it for their bedrooms, as it was so convenient, as well as for cleaning up after pre-Covid parties. We held a few, and they could definitely get messy … however, I lent it to my boyfriend to help clear up after a massive party held by his house of four boys, and it didn’t work quite the same after that!”

Lucy Munnings, 21, studying law and criminology at the University of Sheffield

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