Preparing for the Big Day – Part 3

Phew… if you’ve made it this far, kudos to you, my friend. This is my final post in this… unexpectedly long trilogy!

If you haven’t read the first part, about the things I consider essential, you can find it here.

Alternatively, if you missed the second part, which is about making yourself at home, it can be found here.

Here we go!


Step Three – Uni Stuff!


Whether you’re super organised like me and will have all of your lecture notes in pristine, chronologically organised sheets with colour coded sections, filed between labelled dividers – or you’re more of the “I’ll find it when I need it” kind of person, you’re going to need stuff for uni, whether you like it or not. I may sound like your nagging mum, but at the end of the year when you take those all important exams – you’ll be glad you filed your lecture notes in some sort of decipherable order to revise (yes, revise) over the Easter break.


Now, onto what you need.


The absolute must if you’re even going to attempt to pass is lots and lots of paper. You may be the sort of person that uses one lined A4 pad, dating and titling the page with the module and lecture number at the top and organising the pages by module dividers in a folder later on, or you might be the sort of person that likes to use one pad for each module. Regardless, get paper, and get at least two pads to start you off (you don’t want to run out half way through a lecture… trust me, it’s bad).


Paper would be pretty darn useless if you don’t have anything to actually make notes with – so get some pens! Get at least two colours – the standard are black, blue and red and you can buy packs with all three which is pretty convenient. This will help during seminars/tutorials or when you do some lab exercises/class tests so that you can clearly see which colour your answers are in, and then what the corrections are. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll buy a pack of 20 differently coloured pens from Asda for about a pound so you can make your notes look anything but boring. Pencils are also quite helpful if you have any sketchy-type modules or things that require a lot of remodelling.


If you’re doing something like Computer Science where a lot of programming is involved, or any subject where you need to think out your ideas before you execute them/work out some theory before you put it into practice, a little jotpad will be your best friend for the year. Seriously, I filled a couple of A5 pads this year in lab classes whilst doing programming exercises and coursework, because sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to and you need to either try and work out a different way to do it, or visualise it to see where things are going wrong. A quick example is when I did one of my early lab exercises in October time last year, and we had to create a car out of rectangles and circles using coordinates etc. to organise the shapes into a car-looking arrangement, and my first attempt failed pretty badly as the wheels were overlapping the roof and the chassis was half way across the page… Out came my trusty notepad and I could draw it out, working out the dimensions as I went so I could figure out exactly where I wanted the shapes to be – and then it was easy. It can also be helpful for little sketches if you’re doing something design-based I imagine, or recording some ideas for later use. Either way, and for all courses, it’s awfully handy to have anyway.


Here’s the assorted list of everything else you can undoubtedly find in my stationary drawer (yes… you did read that right…):

  • Lever arch folder (you’re almost guaranteed to have a lot of notes, and ringbinders usually won’t cut it – they’ll also prevent pages ripping!)
  • Page dividers (handy for separating module notes)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Sharpener
  • Stapler
  • Hole punch (useful for any handouts you may get, and if you want to put them away in a folder. Just saying, but a two-holed one will make your life a whole lot easier)
  • Post-it notes
  • Highlighters could turn out useful
  • Hole strengtheners (if you do opt for a ringbinder, hole strengtheners are polo-shaped stickers that you put over the punched holes in the paper to prevent them from ripping, and I recommend you buy a few packs to make sure you don’t lose any of your notes!)
  • Paper clips
  • Bulldog/Foldback/Grip clips (these are so helpful if you have a big piece of printed coursework you need to keep in order, or even holding a few sheets together which can then be hung from a pin on your pin board (clever, right?), so investing in a few of assorted sizes is a good idea if you want to save yourself hassle)
  • White/blutac (I recommend to get whitetac because most halls will allow it instead of blutac for things on the walls – but check first)
  • Glue
  • Tipex (lifesaver, all I can say)
  • Pen pot (in all honesty I bought a pack of three tumblers from Poundland and use those for my penpots! Cheaper and more convenient)
  • Plain paper (for if you have a printer, and for if you need to sketch/draw/doodle/use some paper…)
  • Page markers (these can be like slim post-it notes to mark important pages in your textbooks without damaging them – always helpful!)
  • Envelopes and stamps (not always a priority, but there have been a few occasions I needed to post something last year, so it’s worth considering having something just as a backup I suppose)
  • Calendar of some degree (academic or year, both are useful! I’ve gone for a normal flip-style calendar that I have on my board. I’d say if you do get one, look for one that has a fair bit of space to write next to the dates as this will be your lifeline for the year! Don’t let deadlines creep up on you, so write them down in big, red letters on your calendar. Also record important dates like if you’re working or when a special event is, so it doesn’t slip your mind – as your year ahead will be very busy. I’d personally stay away from big, academic wall calendars as they take a lot of whitetac to stay up, and it may damage the walls if it stays there all year – but that’s just my opinion!)


That’s all I can think of right now! So, at the end of this long, long post, I hope I’ve helped to identify some of the things you may forget or may need to still buy before/after you arrive at halls. Things like your favourite mug or slippers will surely be already packed in the boot of your car in preparation, and you needn’t worry that you’ll not have anything to sleep on because your bedding will already be stowed away too.


All that’s left for me to say is don’t forget to pack your excitement! I know how daunting moving into halls can be – I’ve been there myself! But seriously, you’ll have an amazing time – just don’t forget to look forward to it and don’t let your nerves shadow that!


~Good luck 🙂

Preparing for the Big Day – Part 2

Hi! This is the second part of my moving in guide – find the first part here.

So, onto part two!


Step Two – Personal Stuff

I classify the stuff in this part as things that you could live without, but would make your life a whole lot better if you had them. These are things like photos, fairy lights, books, DVDs (or in my case a blender…) etc. that will make you feel more at home or give you something to do.


My first instinct in pretty much every situation is to make a list, so maybe you could try that before you start to pack – it will help you realise what you don’t yet have.

Start out by running through a usual day for yourself, from getting up, to getting ready, to eating, to… Doing what you do! For example: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, retainer (dont want to forget that!), shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, flannel etc. Then moving onto eating – you’ll need a bowl for cereal maybe or a plate if you’re feeling toast in the morning (these are already down on your essentials list though, right?) and something to eat that with, maybe for lunch you’re going to make yourself beans on toast so you’ll need a saucepan (again, essential!), and maybe some clingfilm to cover it up in the fridge if you dont use the whole tin. So, that’s a start, right?

a) Cleaning

Okay, onto the things you may not think about. You’re going to need things to clean with if you want to actually make your room appealing to others! Cleaning musts in my opinion are as follows (but for example you might only want spray and a sponge instead of wipes – so personalise it!):

  • Duster and furniture polish (doesn’t have to be expensive – I have Tesco Everyday Value!)
  • Washing up liquid and sponge/cloth (no, the fairies don’t do it)
  • Antibacterial/Cleaning wipes (for wiping up any spillages and general cleaning)
  • Antibacterial Spray and sponge/cloth (Dettol do an all-purpose one that you can use in the kitchen and bathroom which is really handy – that’s what I have) (I hate to say it but you will be responsible for your own living area! So if you want to keep your room and kitchen clean and hygenic, giving these areas a once over every so often is crucial!)
  • Toilet bleach
  • You can go wild and get specific cleaning products like bathroom/kitchen, but check where they can be used first – you dont want to damage the surfaces and then be liable for charges at the end of the year!


b) Make Yourself at Home

Once again, everyone is different in what they bring to uni. Have a look round your room to see what you would really like to take with you and write that down, or leave it to one side maybe if you’d prefer not to. Think about things to make you feel like home such as fairy lights or photos, and then things to do like books for reading/cooking and DVDs. This is really the easy part, as you’re just putting all your stuff into cases/bags/boxes, and most of the time you don’t actually need to buy anything extra. Do check though what your halls provides for you so you can remember to get anything else to put on top of your room inventory.

For example, this year, my accommodation doesn’t supply me with any of the following in the kitchen: microwave, kettle, toaster, kitchen bin, anything like kitchen roll or washing up liquid (which is the usual), iron, ironing board, hoover, mop and bucket, dustpan and brush etc.

They also don’t supply any of the following in my actual room: bedroom/bathroom bin, and any light source (like a desk light) apart from the main ceiling light.

To make your move easier and to help you settle in quicker, check your room inventory as living without a bedroom bin right now is pretty weird… I’m using a back inside one of the boxes I used to get all my stuff here! Sometimes you will have to improvise for a while (like my makeshift bin…), but also for things that you might not foresee. For example, I’ve been in my accommodation now for just over a week, and two nights ago was the first time I went to use the oven. I’ve previously just used the hob for a quick stir fry or to cook some pasta, but when I went to use the oven, it didn’t work!! Luckily, Birmingham is host to many a takeaway establishment, so improvising was done.

So – list time. Check if your room includes a desk lamp, because in the event that you’re studying a little after dark, you might not want your big room light on and would prefer a smaller desk lamp. I’m lacking this right now, so it just goes to show that I should have written this before I actually moved in myself…

Other, smaller and more homely things you might want to think about is a toothbrush holder, a games console maybe, hairdryer, printer, photoframes, blu/whitetac, jewellry box etc. – it’s your room at the end of the day, personalise it!



Preparing for the Big Day Part 1

Here’s another post about preparing yourself for your big day – moving in!  This one’s focused on what to actually pack, rather than what to do to occupy yourself before you go. This is part one – the essentials.


One of the main things I was worried about when I first moved in was that I had so much stuff. Like, “my mum and I went up on the train with a suitcase so the rest of the stuff could fit in the car”-much stuff… So here’s my guide of how to not get yourself in a fluff about having too much stuff. Step 1: DON’T WORRY THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF STUFF! Don’t even worry if you feel you don’t have a lot of stuff! You have the amount of stuff that you have, and that’s that really. I like cooking, so a lot of the space I filled in the car on moving-in day was to do with, or to go in, the kitchen; things such as a blender so I can make soup, cake tins so I can bake, spices etc (although as I said in my last post, I do recommend buying food when you get there!). If I didn’t like to cook, I would have a lot less stuff and wouldn’t have been stressed out – but I do, so that’s that. Once you accept that you have the amount of stuff that you do, you can think about enjoying the thought of unpacking it all and making your room yours.


All my things packed to move in!
All my stuff ready to move in for second year!

Okay, so, what do you pack, then? While I stress that you can’t have too much stuff, take it with a pinch of salt and don’t take every single thing from your room at home and lug it to the back of your parent’s car. Just a word of advice: you won’t need everything you’re going to pack! All that will happen is your uni room will get cluttered and you’ll end up taking it back home again at the end of the year. Take a good look at the room inventory of your halls first to see what you definitely won’t need to bring. At Aston for example, a kettle, toaster, microwave, iron, ironing board, hoover, bins, mop/bucket and dustpan/brush are all provided – so you don’t need to bring your own!


     Step One – Essentials

Once you’ve had a look at your inventory, jot down the essentials. I’m an organised soul, so for first year, I made a few Excel spreadsheets for everything I wanted to take with me – a spreadsheet for each different category like bathroom, bedroom, kitchen etc. If extreme organising isn’t your thing (call me Monica), then definitely do try to write down the absolute musts, just so you don’t forget them. Here is a short (yes, short) compilation of what I would define as essential for moving in (each to their own, though!):


A list of packing essentials

This is me trying to explain this list. “Bedroom” is pretty self explanatory I think; paracetamol and ibuprofen I’ve put as essential as it’s better to have them when you’re feeling ill rather than having to go out to get them! “Bathroom” is pretty straightforward too. “Kitchen” includes some weird ones.

Pans, minimum 2; I’d say this is the absolute essential if you’re wanting to cook for yourself, even if it’s beans on toast or pasta and sauce – you’re going to need a pan for pasta and a pan for sauce possibly! Or maybe rice and something… I don’t know, I’m off on a food tangent. Pans, two, get them and be done with it.

Baking tray (no holes); if you’ve only got a pizza tray and are wanting to cook chips in the oven, it will make a massive, huge, oily mess. The absolute no-no if you’re cooking on a pizza tray is a chicken kiev. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Yes Josh, I am talking about you last year. If you’re cooking anything other than a pizza on a pizza tray, don’t be surprised when your oven starts smoking up – that’s all the grease and fat burning up in there that’s dripped through the holes from your last meal! Take it from me – invest in a baking tray without holes. Cutlery and crockery is standard – you can even go for multiple of each if you’re expecting to cook for friends or family. I have a set of four of each, so it’s just what you’re wanting.

Sharp knife; with this goes a chopping board which I didn’t mention. You might need to chop some chicken or something, and that’s not going to happen with a butter knife, so buy a sharp knife or two! Also, buy a glass chopping board if you’re up for it – easy to clean and can be doubled up as a worktop saver to put hot pans on (for example – flat fajita night!!). Or, plastic chopping boards are cheap as chips.

The obvious thing I missed out here was clothes, duh. You’re most definitely going to need them. Think about nightwear, daywear, going out stuff, winter stuff, summer stuff, swimwear, underwear (don’t forget that…), slippers, dressing gown etc. Basically, this is the part where you know what you do and don’t want to take, so just make it up as you go along! Leave behind things you don’t wear so much maybe, so it gives you room for other things if you’re struggling for space. Also, vacuum bags are a godsend for space-saving! You heard it here first.



Right, so I say don’t take a kettle etc. because you may have one in the flat, so why have I got one in my picture you may ask? That’s because I’m not actually living on campus this year! 🙁 Nope, I’m taking a step into grown-up land, but not going as far as renting my own house! I’m just a few minutes walk from campus this year in a private accommodation (meaning not owned by the University), which is still halls of residence. At this particular halls, we don’t get kitchen appliances provided, so we have to take our own. That’s why I have a kettle and iron and stuff – which does actually take up a fair bit of room…


That’s it for part one! I hope this has been informative and you aren’t sleepy from the long read!

~Until next time 🙂


“Stuff” count: 15…

September Begins

September has arrived, all the younger kids are preparing to go back for another year at school, and you’re sitting there at home twiddling your thumbs because you’ve still got a couple of weeks until you can start your uni adventure! The wait is absolutely agonising, but here is a small list of things to do in the meantime to get yourself in top shape for starting uni:


The Not-Quite-So-Definitive List of University Preparations:


  • Find your friends

This is useful for everyone – if you’re living away from home or not. Social media is a great way of connecting with people you know, and in this case – finding people who could potentially be your future best friend. Aston creates a Facebook group each year for the upcoming freshers to join, interact with, and find people who are in the same boat as you – so you’ll be able to meet people before you arrive. Post your halls address or course (or anything for that matter! Like “I like skiing, who else is going to join Aston Snow society?”), and people will find you easily. For me, it was the best thing to get myself hyped up for uni, because I already knew all of my flatmates before I moved in! It took a lot of the emotional stress away about moving away from home for the first time and living with strangers, as I already knew who they were and a little bit about them.


  • Make a list of what you want to take

This is good for remembering to get those things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about, like your own cleaning supplies or a baking tray, but also crucial to remember all those things that are blatantly obvious! You don’t want to get out your front door on moving in day to find out you’ve left behind your favourite picture that’s sitting on your desk, or your best fluffy slippers sitting in your wardrobe because you simply forgot that you’d need to get them. As well as this, it also helps for you to work out what you will be able to get when you move in, like cotton wool or toothpaste; although it’s good to be completely prepared, you also have a limited amount of room to fit all your stuff in to move! As I’ve said – there will be plenty of places to get essentials like toothpaste and shower gel, so maybe leaving that for when you move in will make moving in a lot easier.


  • Make a list of what you’re going to pack on the day

These are the everyday essentials that you need, like your hairbrush, toothbrush, deodorant, make-up, phone and chargers etc. that you can slip into a bag ready for when you leave. Something that I did a few months into the year was have a toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant etc. at my home, and also one of each in my halls, so when I visited home for the weekend I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting to bring any of them or leaving them behind.


  • Prepare, but don’t over prepare!

When you start uni, you’re bound to take everything with you except the kitchen sink… literally! A lot of universities are right in the city – or are relatively nearby to good shopping places – so don’t worry if you haven’t got 5 million ringbinders and 8 whisks, as there will be plenty of opportunity to buy more stuff when you’re there (as I’ve said above!). Stationary and food though I think are different. There will be a lot of offers on at the beginning of September, so you might be better to seek out the best deals while you can. Food-wise, I’d recommend not buying anything until you get there, simply because of space and having to carry it! If you did want to though, my ideal buys when I’m at home are cup-a-soup boxes from pound shops (Tesco is usually two for £2; sometimes you can get them 2 for £1 in a pound shop!), tea and coffee (so you can make a brew when you move in), and also biscuits!


  • Have a look at places to go, so you can explore a day or two after you’ve moved in

It’s always great to get to know your surroundings, so finding a key place to visit or just taking a walk off campus/halls will be a good experience. In my fresher’s week, myself and my flatmates took a trip off campus and had a wander round Birmingham, finding the nearest supermarket, some good places to eat, and the local cinema. It’s good to get your bearings, and make you feel like home.


  • Think about meeting your new flatmates

This is always a daunting time – whether you’re the most outgoing person on the planet, or really really shy. The most important thing to remember, is that everyone is in the same position! The best thing you can do for yourself, is to pluck up enough courage to say “Hi” to people you see around; I even said hello to people in the lift on fresher’s week, simply because I wanted to make some friends and to boost my confidence. Think about ways to make meeting your flatmates easier. Maybe buy a box of Celebrations or bake some cupcakes – something that you can all get together in the kitchen when all your parents are gone and have a nice chat and to break the ice.   These are just a few pointers to help make things easier! The important thing to remember that once the initial fright of being on your own is overridden by the amount of fun you’re having with all the new people you’ve met, you’ll wonder why you were so worried in the first place! 🙂