Five genuinely essential things that every Cambridge fresher will forget to pack

But don’t worry, Wilko will probably stock it

We’ve all been there – ‘there’ being the descent into hell on Ikea’s travelator, which will for the next few weeks be packed with incoming university freshers, anxious about their ensuing life milestone and if they actually need a colander. Bonus tip: you can make pasta in the microwave, so yes, you will need a colander. It’s likely that someone (hi mum!) will attempt to talk you out of buying the below – but don’t listen to them. Because guess who’s always right? The Cambridge Tab.

A printer (or, a friend with one)

What the printer sees while I’m trying to work out why the hell it’s not working, again

You’ll tell yourself that you’ll save money and resources by simply using the library printer, because you will of course be spending your waking (i.e. all of them) hours in the beautiful college library, and you’ll finish your essay / coursework / dissertation in enough time to stroll over to the computer room. This works well for the first week in term, but it’ll get to week two in Michaelmas and you can’t remember how to top up your printer credit and to be honest, you can’t remember if you even set it up in the first place. You also had an essay due in two hours ago. Give in, get a printer, and spend an extortionate amount of money on ink but save a hell of a lot of faff.

Lamps (and lightbulbs)

Yes, we all know that at least two in every three girls moving into uni this year will arrive with fairy lights. The other third will see what an ooh that’s cute !!! effect that said fairy lights give, and will rapidly  buy more – but lamps! are! underrated! Your room will probably come with a desk lamp, but hello? bedside lamp? The cold harsh glow of the ceiling light just won’t cut it.

Enough cutlery

Think that one spoon, one knife and one fork will be enough? Think again. I bought a family pack of cutlery (four spoons, four knives, four forks and four diddy teaspoons) before I arrived at Cambridge, and by the end of Michaelmas term I had two spoons, one knife, and somebody else’s fork. I don’t know where my cutlery has gone – if you’ve got it, I would like it back please <3 – but if you don’t want to end up like me, forced to cut birthday cake with a spoon because my knife had gone astray again, then arrive prepared.

(and, on that note, more than one plate / bowl / mug / glass)

‘Having just one of each will encourage me to wash up more!’ was the resounding chorus when I did my Ikea haul before I went to uni, and once again, I was wrong. Just having one of each means that, although you don’t have the nightmare stack of plates with last week’s pasta remnants, you will end up either eating from the same unwashed plate for an embarrassing number of days or you’ll just eat in Hall to avoid washing up.

The first and only time you’ll see the floor this clear (Photo credit: Katie Thacker)

An electric toothbrush mains adapter

If you’ve not got an electric toothbrush, how old are you? Dental hygiene is important, so if you’re still scrubbing away with a disgusting manual one, go out and get an electric toothbrush. Then, buy a mains adapter for your charger, because you don’t want to be charging it in your shared uni bathroom.

But to be honest, don’t worry. Go to Ikea, spoil yourself with houseplants that will die within the first two weeks of uni (if you don’t drink enough water yourself, how can you expect to water your succulents?), but if you forget anything, Cambridge has shops too (big up Wilko!!). 

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We asked Cambridge students what they’re most excited about for Michaelmas 2020


All image credits to author unless otherwise specified.