What to Take to University (1)

What should a law student take with them when they move to university?

I’ve seen a few of these around and I have my own take.  Mine will be a bit quirky, as 18 was a long time ago for me, and I didn’t live away from home for my first degree.  I’m afraid with some of these, I’m going to come across more like your mum than your peer (yes, I know I’m old.  I’m not quite that old!), so, while I think my advice is solid, this blog is emphatically not written by one of the cool kids.  These are just things that have made my life easier at university (not just for law).  I will not be recommending specific products, because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m being paid/ my judgment is anything other than my own, etc.

I notice the word count on this rapidly climbing, so I’m going to split this up into two posts.  This post: in halls/ at home.  See also: out and about.



photo credit: Xelcise Day 157 via photopin (license)  No, sadly, it will not be this nice.

Don’t skimp on the bedding.  No matter what kind of student you are, sleep is important.  And let’s be real: mattresses in halls of residence are appalling.  I remember lying in bed in halls one night thinking “this would be comfortable if I didn’t have bones”.  Alas, I have bones.  After about a month I gave in and bought a mattress topper.  For me it was memory foam: your preference and budget may vary.  I noticed an absence after a night or two on the topper.  I was no longer in pain from the neck down.  Same goes for your pillow(s): if you’re not bringing one from home (I did not, I arrived to halls by plane and had to buy pretty much everything new), get the most supportive one you can afford.  Hunching over books or a computer screen all day causes neck strain, which causes headaches.  And while you don’t have to have really fancy sheets, the really cheap ones are scratchy (my policy on a lot of things is, if I can afford it, try the one above the cheapest).  I don’t know about anyone else, but when I get stressed, overwhelmed, and need to recover, I retire to bed.  Bed is my sanctuary.  On that note, if you can sleep with them (and depending on lighting/ curtains/ sharing arrangements in your accommodation), consider ear plugs and/ or an eye mask.  At a minimum, the odds are that the walls between you and your neighbours will be thin, and not every flatmate is considerate.


Lumbar support

On a similar note, for similar reasons, depending on your chair in your room, maybe consider some sort of lumbar or back support.  When I was in halls I had a lumbar support that attached to the back of my chair with a large elastic (or similar) band.  Not as good as a proper supportive office chair, but a fair bit cheaper.  (There are some salons around here that offer student discounts on massages.  While these are lovely, and I have been known to use them if my shoulders get too tense and I can’t relax them, spending a bit on back support in the first place is cheaper in the long run).

A printer

Yes, I know you don’t have to print everything (I don’t), and I know a printer is an additional expense (and some universities give some printing credit).  But I find (as do many people I know) that reading from the screen all the time is irritating, to say the least.  My concentration definitely isn’t as good from a screen as from paper.  You definitely need all the concentration you can get for some reading (and there’s something to be said for proofreading being better in hard copy).  My university also has a no electronics in seminars policy, so notes must be in hard copy.  Things to consider: size of the printer, price of the printer, price of replacement cartridges (sticker shock!), printer capability.  When I bought my printer, it was a considerable jump to get automatic duplex printing, so I opted not to (mine does manual duplex, but it’s fiddly).  What I do instead is print single sided, but with two pages per page.  The writing is very small, and it may not work for everyone, but it’s what works for me.  You can (and possibly should) also buy printer paper in bulk: it can be cheaper (if you can store it), and you don’t want to run out of paper in the lead up to an assignment or in the middle of printing a particularly long case.  (Lever arch binders and a hole punch, as well: keep your printed material together, rather than lose them in an avalanche of paper before exams.)

Reference materials

If you’re doing a humanities course of any description (including law), a thesaurus and a dictionary are good to have.  Dictionaries are probably less necessary because online definitions are pretty good: synonym tools I find are less helpful.  If you’re unsure of your academic writing style, a style guide is a good idea (beware of international ones: some of the best and best known are American, which is fine, and indeed the one I recommend is American.  But Americans don’t have the same stylistic requirements as the UK.  Proceed with caution, check with your own institution for style requirements).  I would very strongly recommend law students in particular invest in a legal dictionary: online definitions may be inaccurate, or at least inaccurate/ misleading in this jurisdiction.  As an aside, post-it notes are helpful with reference materials and textbooks (particularly if you’re allowed to take in marked up texts into an open book exam: check your own exam rules before doing so).


Finally, some quick ones that don’t need a lot of explanation.  A bucket or similar for hand washing delicate clothes, a large durable bag for carrying washing to the laundrette, laundry liquid or gel is less annoying/ heavy/ messy to use than powder (if you can justify the additional expense), a fold up airer for clothes will save you a lot of money on the dryer.  If the heating is bad where you live, consider a blanket and/ or fingerless gloves for when you’re studying in winter.  (See also my point about headphones in my next post)

As always, please do comment.  What are/ were your must haves for in halls, particularly as a law student?

5 thoughts on “What to Take to University (1)

  1. Pingback: What to Take to University (2) | Seeking Nomoi

  2. This post is amazing and much more helpful than the things I read before. I treat my bed as a sanctuary as well, so I don’t save on sleep-related things. In my first year of uni I purchased those supplies from Primark but ended up throwing away everything due to low quality. Now, all my stuff is from IKEA (just like at home) and sleeping quality is so much better!


  3. Thank you! Much appreciated. There is something to be said for Primark’s higher quality things (they’re not what I have now, but I have used them and they’re not too bad). I’ve been a bit wary of IKEA because I think with some things they use European measurements which might be different from UK measurements? But, absolutely, the more you can recreate home (to the extent that that’s practical) the better. One of the other things I did was get my mum to email me some of my favourite recipes so I could learn to cook things myself. That got me over some of the homesickness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. While I was moving from halls to my current flat I bought a ‘premium’ quality wool blanket which, I believe, was about £15 but I got it only in May, so I’ll see how it holds up after a year. The cheaper polyester(?) blanket for £6, which I got in white (I wanted a neutral colour palette) hasn’t pretty much changed apart from getting a bit ecru.
    IKEA was used by my (at the time) flatmates in halls and they didn’t have problems with sizing but I would check it if I were you.
    And as for being homesick, I was feeling okay apart from missing my pets so I’d facetime them every few days😂 As for recipes I wanted to change my diet so I wasn’t using anything from what I learned at home, but rather look up meals online.


  5. Those cheap blankets are definitely better than they’d seem for the price and supposed quality. They did me quite well when I lived in halls.
    The missing pets is real! When I first moved over I Skyped my family’s dog who tried to go behind the computer to look for me! My computer and phone both feature pictures of her quite prominently.


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