Deciding on what to pack when going to university for the first time can be tough. Having packed and unpacked my suitcases for three terms now, I can safely say that it is an art that requires perfecting. You’re torn between having to deal with lugging into your accommodation a suitcase that is so heavy it seems you have packed enough bricks to build a two-storey semi-detached, or risking leaving behind items that turn out to be essentials when you arrive for term. If you are worried you may have under-packed for Michaelmas, chances are you have packed plenty. To reassure you, these are some of the excesses of my own first-term suitcase.
1 – Clothes
It may be tempting to fold half your wardrobe into your suitcase on the chance that the occasion will arise to wear that sweater you got on your 16th birthday that is hibernating at the back of your closet. In my first term I brought so many clothes that some never made it out of my room. Colleges provide washing facilities, so don’t worry about bringing enough clothes to last you all eight weeks; you will definitely be able to recycle outfits! It is important, however, to have some warm clothes for the transition into the colder weeks of Michaelmas.
2 – Kitchen supplies
I and many of my friends brought a bunch of kitchen equipment that we hardly ever used. The kitchens in my building were very basic, lacking even a hob or an oven, and so any cooking done was limited to the microwave, kettle, and toaster – the most complex “meal” I ever made was hummus on toast. For most meals, I would go to Hall; as well as being a functional trip to acquire sustenance, Hall serves as a great social occasion to see friends and wind down a bit. If you think you might end up going to Hall far more often than cooking, you probably won’t need an entire array of pots and pans!
3 – School notes and books
Although it might be useful to take a few pages of notes you think could be helpful to refresh your understanding of concepts you learnt at school, it will probably be rare that you will need to refer to old exercise books and folders. Once you start attending classes, tutorials, and lectures, you will quickly build up a bank of notes and other resources which will very likely suffice for your studies at Oxford. Don’t forget that you have access to over 100 libraries, so you will pretty much always be able to find a book with the information you are looking for.
4 – Miscellaneous room items
By all means bring items to decorate your room with – it makes your room all the more cosy to return to after a day’s work. However, you may find that some of the room décor you bring does not end up serving its purpose. I brought a blue rug to add some colour and comfort to my room but when I moved my belongings into my room during freshers’ week, I discovered that my floor was already covered in a blue carpet, making the rug both redundant and invisible. Likewise, some of my friends brought various bedroom paraphernalia, like an extra duvet or a desk-lamp, which did not come out from being stored in their wardrobes the whole term, as college already provides these items.
Don’t worry if you find yourself with a surplus of belongings at uni. With each term, as you get used to living and studying in Oxford, you will get more and more adept at the fine craft of packing for uni, and figure out for yourself what you can leave behind, and what you ought to remember to bring next term. You might even be able to put “suitcase specialist” on your LinkedIn by the time you graduate.
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