The fact that I can even call myself a graduate now is a truly disgusting fact.
The past four years of my life studying my undergraduate degree have absolutely flown by, and every so often it pops into my head that I am the proud owner of an actual DEGREE. I definitely don’t feel old enough or mature enough to call myself a graduate. That is a thing that adults can say, not me. When I was in high school, the idea of finishing university seemed an absolute lifetime away. The people in the years above me who were at university seemed so much older, even though it was only a couple of years. And now that is me. WEIRD.
So, whether or not I choose to believe it, I actually am quite qualified to give some advice on the university front now. I’m actually returning to university in a few weeks to begin my masters in Creative Writing (which I am incredibly excited about). Clearly I wasn’t ready to give up that student lifestyle yet.
Here are a few of my top tips for those of you heading to university soon, or even just hoping to become more organised in your day-to-day life.
- Depending on your course, a mini laptop – the most useful thing that I purchased was a super cheap small laptop for taking to lectures. This only really works if you are far quicker at typing than writing like I am, but I found it invaluable when it came to taking notes. My main laptop was far too heavy and big for dragging around with me. The true dream is buying myself a MacBook that is ideal for carrying around and also a decent size for watching Netflix in my bed, but I certainly don’t have that kind of cash lying around right now after my adventurous summer in Fiji and Australia (more on that to come).
- Travel mug and water bottle – not only will you be saving the turtles and whatnot, but it will also save your precious pennies. A lot of places now give a discount on your much needed caffeine if you bring your own travel mug so I try to never leave home without one when I’m heading to uni.
- Sticky tabs for marking books – as an English Literature student, this was particularly helpful for me for marking quotes and important points, but I am sure it would be equally helpful for other subjects if you want to remember a page that might be useful for an essay or a topic to go back and study later.
- A planner/diary – I could not function without my planner. It comes absolutely everywhere with me because I am a forgetful person that would forget where I am meant to be and when and when my next essay is due.
- A different notebook for each class – if my laptop was out of charge and I had to actually write my lecture notes for once (the horror) I always hated writing them in a notebook that was full of other things and would end up with everything all mixed up. I can only imagine my stress levels if I hand wrote my lecture notes every week. Even if you are like me and plan on typing in lectures, it is definitely worthwhile having a notebook for each class too. I often preferred writing notes in workshops and seminars, probably because of the type of degree that I did.
- One Drive (or some other type of cloud storage) – after forgetting my pen drive in a library computer for the millionth time, I finally moved on to using an online storage system for all my notes and essays. It turned out to be the best idea, especially because I was working off so many different computers – my small laptop for lectures, my bigger one in the flat, the library computers – and this meant that I always had the most up to date version of any document with me at all times and could access simply by logging in. It is also a bit of reassurance knowing that it is backed up somewhere that won’t be lost if you lose an external hardrive or your computer crashes and breaks. I personally like One Drive, because I have a Hotmail email account and therefore didn’t have to make a new account on anything. There are plenty other options though, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
- Photographs for your wall (and washi tape if you aren’t allowed to put things up, because it isn’t as sticky as cellotape or blue tack and therefore doesn’t leave a mark or take the paint off when you take it down to move out) – this will help if you are feeling a little homesick and want to be able to look at fun school memories, and also helps to liven up otherwise pretty dull and boring student accommodation. You could also use Command strips to hang a frame or a small mirror on your wall – just be careful you don’t hang anything too heavy or it will fall off during the night (for some reason never happens in the daytime when you are out) and make you think someone is breaking in.
- A green plant – this sounds like a ridiculous thing to include on this list maybe, especially so high up, but I bought a cheap little aloe vera plant in IKEA a couple of years ago for my bedroom and it is still going strong. There is something weirdly calming about having a plant sitting on my desk when I am doing [no] work?? Do not ask me why, but it works.
- Hanging storage for your wardrobe – the easiest way to create extra storage without adding to the clutter of your room.
- Drawer dividers – this keeps everything neat and tidy and makes it much easier to find things. I bought cheap ones in IKEA and found them especially helpful in underwear and sock drawers. (A whole section for those comfy period pants!!!)
- A sharp knife – not for harming your flatmates when they once again ‘forget’ that it is their turn to take the bins out, but instead just making life easier when cutting onions and bagels aka the essentials.
- Student cookbook – trust me, you will use this a grand total of two times, but it is useful as a sort of reference guide for the very basic things which you never realised you needed to know before rather than for actual recipes – it transpired that I didn’t even know how long to boil an egg for.
- Coat hangers – sounds a ridiculous addition to this list, but you won’t realise how many of these you actually need. University accomodation will provide you with roughly three, if any at all.
- Door stop – one of the most essential things to bring with you if you are moving in to shared accomodation with complete strangers, at least for the beginning while you are still getting to know everyone. Your flatmates are far more likely to come and say hello if your door is open, rather than closed off to everyone (literally and metaphorically). Doors in these flats are usually fire doors that slam shut when you let them go.
- Earplugs – first year students are notoriously inconsiderate of your 9am classes.
- Casserole dish – make yourself a big pasta bake or a lasagne, portion it up and freeze it and you have enough food to last a week.
- Playing cards – for drinking games of course.
If you can think of anything that was useful to you during university then please share your wisdom below.
I will update this list any time I think of anything new myself, so make a mental note (or just, you know, take the easy option and bookmark the page or something) to check back later.
Good luck! I hope you love this new experience every bit as much as I did.