Packing for University

Preparing for university is a task which can be extremely stressful, time consuming, and comes with many new responsibilities. As I assume many freshmen students are at this time of year, I have begun anticipating the move to my new home come fall, in an on campus dorm. With just over a month left before the physical packing process will begin, I couldn’t help but to begin thinking about the all the items I will be required to pack, buy, or force myself to live without and leave behind. Unfortunately, I do not have an ultimate packing guide to share from past experience, but do have some ideas and reminders that may aid in this process.

The First Leg

Travelling to campus first with a four hour drive to catch a flight to Vancouver, followed by a long taxi ride to the university, will be making my move rather time consuming and challenging. Although not everyone will have such distance to travel from home, it is important to think about all the physical steps you will be required to make when relocating, and what you can do to simplify moving day. For some, this will mean having to pack less, for others, it will mean calling your dad and/or brothers and their crew to the rescue, while some may go to great lengths with multiple shipments or trips by car to ensure creating the most comfortable living arrangements possible. Regardless of what category you may fit under, make a plan with your family before hand to avoid causing extra hassle come moving day.

Always Be Prepared!

Whether or not you are living in residence your first year will determine many aspects of the moving process and what you will be required to bring along; however, if you are living in a dorm, be sure to check out your university’s website for a list of items the rooms comes furnished with, and any further information you should know before your arrival. There are usually random details specific to each dorm style that are helpful to know ahead of time, such as that the beds require extra-long twin coverings, or that an internet computer cable is necessary. Things like these often come as a surprise to first year students who didn’t take the time to look over their dorm room information before moving in.

A Girl Has to Have…

When choosing what clothes to bring, I’ve committed to using the rule that if I’ve worn it in the past year I can take it along, otherwise, it will sit in my closet until my return where I’m sure I will re-evaluate whether or not it matches the new style I’m sure I will have developed over the months. Picture yourself on a typical day on campus and predict whether you will find yourself mainly in sweats and hoodies, or will take the time to put effort into your outfits, and pack accordingly. My tendency when travelling, as I’m sure many of us are guilty of, is to wear those same favourite outfits multiple times, and ending up with a pile of unworn clothes. Although your time spent in university will be much longer than that of a typical vacation, still only select the items you know you will wear and don’t feel bad leaving behind anything you aren’t sure of.

Luxuries and Necessities

Of course there are the obvious items such as toiletries, shoes, towels, etc. you will be needing, but aside from bringing the essentials, it is important to make room for things that have sentimental value to you. Special books, movies, picture frames, or your favourite blanket will personalize your dorm room and will give it the touch of home you may desire. If there are certain things you know you will enjoy on a daily basis, be sure to bring them along too, regardless of their practicality. For example, I will be transporting the milk frothing machine I received as a graduation gift in spite of its rather large size. It will be used with joy on a daily basis and will act as a small luxury I have to treat myself with.

As for the list of things to buy after arrival, I have included a mini-fridge and individual cup coffee brewer. In the long run, I’m sure these two items will be worth the investment for saving leftover food from the cafeteria, and being able to skip a stop at the overpriced coffee shop on the way to class. A memory foam covering for those rock hard mattresses is also a must-have for someone like myself who values a good night’s rest and is easily affected by mattress quality.

While the mental list of things to bring is continuously growing, I have begun putting these ideas to paper to ensure I will be organized when the time comes to start packing. As the list gets longer and moving day gets closer, I am left wondering if it will be possible to fit everything, which is why much more time, thought and revising will be necessary. Slumming it the student way, and creating comfortable living arrangements is something that may be a challenge to find a balance between when the time comes. Personally, I believe it is never to early to start on anything, which is why I encourage everyone in the same boat as me, to begin putting some thought into your own situation and what will be required before moving day sneaks up. Good Luck!


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Wow, I remember those days – my first year, I packed everything I owned, literally. The next spring, I pared it down, put a lot of it in storage for the summer, and did a little more back to school shopping once I arrived on campus than I had as a frosh.

11 years ago

I was lucky in that I moved from my parents to my grandparents’ place. It was about 3 hours from home which is further than a lot of people move but not compared to an airplane move. First off, the ‘life essentials’ stuff like kitchen items were already there. They were also awesome and bought me a new bed. I packed a shopping bag with my toiletries, about 2 weeks worth of clothes, my (at the time “new” 900mhz single-core laptop) and my desk (glass, so it compacted very efficiently). On the scale of moves it wasn’t stressful. Finally, I… Read more »

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