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Things to know

Luisa, a 3rd year student at Reading, provides insight on some of the practicalities of first starting university:

Starting uni is a very exciting time. For many of us, it’s our first time living away from home. That means we need to make sure we have everything we need.

What do I bring?


First, check what is provided in your university accommodation – the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. See if they provide things like mattress protectors, a lamp, a fan or iron and ironing board. If not, these will be essential. Also check your bed size so your bed linen fits.

  • Kitchen: Pots and pans (check what cooker your kitchen has – induction hobs require induction pans), baking trays, cutlery, glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, tea towels, cling film, tin foil, Tupperware.
  • Cooking utensils: Chopping board and knives, tin opener, colander, grater, spatula/wooden spoon, measuring jug or cups, bottle opener and vegetable peeler.
  • Bedroom: Bed linen, mattress protector, duvet, pillows, lamps, fan and extension cable.
  • Bathroom: Towels, toothbrush, toiletries and medication. If you have your own bathroom, take a bath mat.

Other useful things are:

  • A door stop – so your door doesn’t close when you’re moving in
  • Coat hangers
  • Drawing pins – to hang photos or timetables on your notice board
  • Torch
  • Clothes drying rack
  • Small bag or purse – helps keep your belongings safe on a night out
  • Small speakers
  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Travel adapters if you’re an international student
  • Umbrella
  • Extension cable

Study materials:

  • Laptop: It’s worth investing in a good one and staying mobile will give you the option to work wherever you want.
  • Ethernet cable: useful to connect your laptop for a more reliable internet connection if your room has a port.
  • External memory: USB sticks and hard drive – get in the habit of backing up your work.
  • Other essentials: Notepads, pencil case, ruler, pens, highlighters, pencils, rubber, stapler, sellotape, diary, A4 lined paper and ring binders.

How can I prepare?

There are a few things you can do in advance of moving to university.

Important documentation:

  • Bring two forms of photo ID (you’ll need this to collect your campus card and when going out during freshers’ week).
  • Take a copy of your passport and National Insurance number.
  • Any official documents from the university.
  • Any details of your student finance arrangements.
  • Proof of address
  • For international students - You must register online within seven days of arriving in the UK if you applied for your visa from outside of the UK, or within seven days of receiving your Biometric Residence Permit if you applied to extend your visa from inside of the UK. For more information you can visit our International Student page.

Useful things to do:

  • Facebook: If you have Facebook, there will be pages for new students. Search your university and join these groups if you wish to connect with people that will be joining with you.
  • Find out your address: When your accommodation is confirmed, let family and friends know your address in case they want to send you anything.
  • Note down a list of important numbers in case you lose your phone.

What happens when I arrive?

When you arrive, helpers will be there to greet you and help you move in. Your flatmates will move in on the same day as you. This is a chance to introduce yourself and get to know people early on.

This is also a good time to do a food shop. Find out where your local grocery stores are and stock up on supplies for the next few days.

What services can I sign up to?

In the first week, there will be lots of stands set up around the campus which have all the different student services. The most important will be:

  • Doctors and Dentist: You’ll need a proof of identification, your previous doctor’s /dentist’s surgery address and an EHIC card if you come from another EEA country. Most surgeries will let you sign up online, by post, by phone or in person.
  • Disability service: This service offers guidance and advice to any students with a disability, specific learning difficulty or mental health difficulties. They can help talk with your tutors or the exams officers to accommodate your studies. You can arrange an appointment by phone, email or in person, search your university website to find contact details.
  • Counselling and Well-being service: For helping students manage different issues we may come across at university. They offer one-to-one meetings, group classes and big group talks. You can sign up online or in person.
  • Voting: You may wish to register to vote at university. If you don’t, you can choose to post your vote. Either way, this can be done online on the government website. You’ll need your passport, National Insurance number and your address for this.

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Space is at a premium whether you’re moving into halls or shared accommodation. You may have to be ruthless with your belongings. If you’re struggling to decide what to pack, split your items between two lists – must have and would like to have.

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This article is from the free online course:

Live Smart: Your Essential Guide to Living at University

University of Reading