I'm writing this whilst “packing” for our big move to Bristol and post-graduate studies. (This has involved several hours of surfing the net and very little putting stuff in boxes!) We're moving on Thursday so by the time you read this I'll be up to my eyeballs in cardboard. Wish us luck!
Going to University for the first time can be very expensive. People keep reminding you of things you will need, like duvet covers and shampoo. Most are things you've probably never bought before and the cost of buying the furnishings of a complete new life might be quickly mounting up!
Good news: you don't need to buy most of this stuff!
People go crazy buying hundreds of pounds worth of kitchen stuff equipment they'll never actually use and all the latest gadgets! Don't do it!
Here's a handy list of stuff you probably WON'T need to shell out for:
- Pens and stationery – You will get A LOT of free pens during the first weeks of Uni. Hundreds of companies line the walls of the Freshers Fayre, eager to give you pens as a way for you to remember them. (Barclays bank also give out free pens in their branches – jus' sayin'!) You can easily hoard enough pens/erasers/calendars etc. to last the year. Get anything else you need from a cheap supermarket when you get there. Don't buy fancy stuff - it'll just get slung into your bag anyway!
- Kitchen stuff – If you are in self-catered accommodation, wait until you get there before buying pots and pans! I found that EVERYONE turns up with 3 saucepans, a frying pan and enough cutlery to sink a ship. There's usually not even enough storage for it all! Check to see what you all have, then share the use of the equipment. Offer to cook them a meal for use of their saucepan! I would say to bring your own tupperware though, because people seem to be incapable of washing it properly.
- Laptop – Most people arrive at Uni with a shiny new laptop. If you don't have one, don't spend £400 of your student loan before you even arrive! (DON'T get a tablet - it's just asking to be nicked/dropped/beer spilled over). All universities have multiple computer labs dotted around campus, or you could pick up a second hand one very cheaply on eBay or even fairly often on Freecycle. You'll probably only need an old-ish one for using the internet, typing essays and the odd spreadsheet. (If you are studying any intensive-graphics course, for example The Boyfriend's architecture course, you will probably need a more up-to-date computer).
- Clothes – Don't be tempted to rush out on a spending spree with your new 10% student discount! People generally turn up to lectures wearing comfy clothes like hoodies and even jogging bottoms. I've seen a LOT of people wear pyjamas to lectures, so don't feel you need to be the trendiest kid on campus!
- Textbooks! - Your parents will kill me for saying this, but DON'T buy new textbooks! They cost anywhere from £30 - £100 EACH! Yes, that's what your student loan is for, but it's also for eating and rent and it barely covers that! You have several free or cheap options:1. Use the library (you're paying tuition fees for it)! There are often many copies of the most important textbooks available for loan on a rolling basis (as long as someone doesn't reserve the book, you can keep renewing your loan indefinitely).2. At the start of the year there are often LOTS of second/final year students selling off their first year textbooks very cheaply. Look on student noticeboards, on the intranet, even posters in the toilets! You can offer them less than they are asking too, because they'll be glad to get some money back.3. Other cheap options are eBay/Amazon!
If you do buy them, follow my tips for selling old textbooks when you are done with them.
Everyone knows your first few weeks at Uni are the most expensive (going out most nights, going for lunch to get to know your new flatmates, etc. etc.), but be careful with your student loan. I knew a few people in the first year who ran out of money by the end of Octover and had to scrounge food from their flatmates, living on pasta and bread until the next loan instalment in JANUARY!
All in all, have a great time! Make a budget, try to stick to it and DON'T GET A CREDIT CARD! :)
Any other advice for things new students may or may not need? I might be able to use the advice myself! :D