A Fresher’s Guide to Packing

With only a few weeks left until the start of term, here are a last few nuggets of advice before you begin preparations to fly/flee the family nest, fresh-faced and filled with gleeful anticipation of the weeks to come; all handily paragraphed and subtitled for your reading pleasure.

Room.

First of all, unpack within three days. Of course, not having to pack again eight weeks later does have its merits but living out of a suitcase does not. And neither does finding the food package you know your Mum put somewhere midway through the term. Posters, photos and even the odd throw is just about acceptable but adorning your room with West African wall hangings, Thai banana leaf mats and Buddhist prayer flags will earn you a reputation as a Gap Yah crisis. Similarly, the rest of your college will not thank you when the fire alarm goes off after you’ve been burning incense. And no, leaving the window open won’t work (note— bring some kind of dressing gown to limit the damage of mid-shower fire alarm related incidents). Three sets of sheets can just about last you the eight weeks in an almost acceptable level of hygiene and will save you from washing them. Correspondingly, bring as much underwear as possible or, do as one of my friends, and just buy more as the term goes on.

Food Supplies.

Anything you have you will eat. After attempting to shop weekly quickly and repeatedly deteriorated into nights of consuming a week’s worth of biscuits whenever an essay was due in, I soon learnt to opt for more of a shopping basket to mouth policy. Nonetheless, the beginning of term provides your last opportunity to gather as much sun dried tomatoes, olives and bottles of your parents’ wine as can fit in the car before your diet deteriorates into Tesco’s donuts and kebabs. For these reasons bring fruit — it is also deceptively expensive.

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Medical.

You will get ill. You will probably be constantly at least 30% ill throughout the whole of Michaelmas. And to avoid waking up hungover and feverish with lectures to attend and without sufficient medication, hot foot it to your nearest pharmacy and deplete their stock of uppers, downers and various types of pain relief. You will also probably consume more lemsip than you had ever imagined.

Fancy Dress.

Comical hats, onesies, and, for the boys, any women’s clothing you can lay your hands on will come in useful embarrassingly often. Face-paints are also a wise investment that can form the basis of almost all bop costumes, providing you have some brightly coloured clothes to form the rest of it. But then you will be laughing, as the rest of your friends spend £20 in the fancy dress shop. So don’t be afraid to go a bit Blue Peter; in this case paint, string, cardboard, scissors and glue will be your best friends. And, while, your costume will undoubtedly be less hardwearing than the shop variety it will be far more photo worthy and, when it comes to bops, everyone loves a trier. As for the girls, avoiding shop bought costumes frees you from the tyranny of outfits prefixed by ‘sexy’. ‘Sexy Pacman’ anyone? — a genuine find, I swear.

Other.

Don’t bother with extra books, course based or otherwise, you won’t have “spare time” and I can’t remember what “reading for fun” is. Non-work-time, as I like to call it, is pretty much filled up with activities (sports, drama and the like), drinking and box sets. It is also probably true that the larger and better your supply of the latter, the more friends you will have. Alternatively, secure these friendships through a comprehensive working knowledge of the BBC iPlayer and other such catch-up marvels. And, to finish off, bring something to pack your stuff back into at the end of term. Otherwise, you will end up carrying armfuls of clothes and carrier bags of toiletries to the car, cursing the naïve assumption that you would be entitled to leave your own belongings in your own room — damn those conferences. Don’t worry kids, there’s always second year.