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IOE Student Blog


A blog on life at IOE and education affairs written for students by students.


What to take to University

By qtnvifi, on 24 September 2019

Suitcase, bedding and baskets placed on a bike

University is a huge change in one’s life. Especially if you’re moving to a foreign city, away from home, it can feel daunting when you start thinking about what to take with you, in order to make sure you have all that you need. I remember that when I started university, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to create a sense of hominess in my new accommodation and I would forget to bring important things. However, inspired by a few tips and tricks from older students, I managed to put together my own little oasis of cosiness.

One of the easiest ways to decide on what to pack is to think of distinct categories of items that you will need, depending on the type of accommodation you will live in (e.g. halls of residence or shared flat, catered or self-catered, shared bathroom or en-suite). I’ve put together 5 lists of essentials that I found most useful as a starting point.


A great tip when it comes to clothes is to bring the essentials and not to clutter your new room with too much, as people’s style usually changes during university and you will very likely have new additions to your wardrobe.

  • Pyjamas and dressing gown – especially if you live in halls, fire alarms sometimes go off during the night and it helps to have something that looks cute and you can put on quickly
  • Casual clothes – depending on your preferences, clothes that are comfy and you can use for most activities, including lectures
  • Formal attire – for events which follow a dress code
  • Smart attire – for interviews, presentations or conferences
  • Sport clothes
  • Slippers/flip-flops – especially if you will be sharing a bathroom
  • Clubbing shoes – for the London clubs with sticky floors
  • Rucksack and/or bag
  • Hangers – choose thin ones to save space
  • Laundry bag


If you will live in halls of residence, check if your halls offer some of the bedroom essentials before buying them yourself. Also, it might be worth buying these things upon your arrival, to make sure they fit the sizes. The essentials are:

  • Pillow and duvet
  • Bedding and pillow cases
  • Ear plugs and eye mask – student accommodations can get pretty noisy

Non-essential items which can bring a nice personal touch:

  • Throws and cushions
  • Photos or posters
  • Fairy lights and any other decorations – these are also best purchased on your arrival
  • Mattress topper – for extra comfort
  • Extension leads
  • Speakers
  • Playing cards – a great icebreaker
  • Printer – if you intend to print loads. IOE has a great printing service that you can use though.


When it comes to the bathroom essentials, you are generally better off buying them on your arrival, as it’s a waste of space to carry them with you from home. The exceptions are specific toiletries (such as pharmaceutical ones) and care products which you cannot find in London. The list of essentials would comprise:

  • Toiletries – hair and body washing products, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.
  • Shower caddy – especially useful if you’re sharing a bathroom, so you can carry your essential toiletries with you
  • Hair dryer/straightener
  • 2 towels
  • Nail clippers
  • Painkillers and flu medicine – in case of fresher’s flu
  • Sanitary items
  • Contraception


Just like in the case of bathroom essentials, it is better to buy all stationery on your arrival, except for special things that you know you will not be able to find elsewhere. Besides stationery, there are a few things that you should definitely pack.

  • Important documents and copies of them – have them in electronic format as well
  • Electronics and chargers- laptops, tablets, anything you will be using in your work
  • Hard drive/ USB stick, etc. – to make sure all your work is backed up
  • Headphones


All kitchen essentials are best purchased on your arrival, as there are plenty of stores in London which offer a wide variety of items for reasonable prices. If your accommodation is catered, you will need very few kitchen items. Prioritise:

  • 1 or 2 mugs
  • 1 plate – for when you have takeaways
  • Cutlery

If you will live in a self-catered accommodation, then you should decide with the other flat mates who will buy what and comprise a list of utensils you will use in your cooking, depending on your dietary requirements, etc.

Last but not least, the most important piece of advice is to not stress out too much. Anything you forget to pack can either be bought in London or sent from home. Just enjoy the process of arranging your new home!

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