11 items every Exeter University student wishes they had brought with them as a fresher

Scratch the Freshers’ wristband, it’s the era of the emergency first-aid kit

Moving to uni is one of the most overwhelming things you can do, between the new environment, social pressure and actually having to look after yourself (*googles how often you actually have to wash your bedding*), it’s fair to say we’ve all experienced the lows of Freshers’.

Whilst your mum’s thorough IKEA shop will see you through most of first year, there are undoubtedly a few things that you’ll wish you had, only realised once you snoop around your flatmates’ rooms and see their LED strip lights, extra bins and extensive collection of shot glasses.

Whether these things are picked up in a last minute panic Tesco shop or the inaugural Wilko shop, it’s definitely worth having these 11 items to see you through Freshers’ and beyond:

1. A doorstop

The idea of taking a humble doorstop to your first year halls is a top tip which has passed been down by many a former fresher. It can be difficult to try and make friends with your flatmates when everyone is too scared to go into the kitchen or, heaven forbid, knock on someone’s door (shudders). Having the confidence to open your door will encourage your equally nervous flatmates to come and talk to you – honestly, it’s not as scary as it seems and it will definitely help break the seemingly unbreakable ice between these people who you now have to live with for a year! Although, it’s definitely worth removing said doorstop during any kind of flat party, otherwise you will have a random stranger passed out on your new John Lewis bedding. 

POV: your mum forces you to have a photo in your new uni room

2. A speaker 

When the pres are feeling a little bit dead, you can assert your musical prowess by whacking on your tunes, in the hope at least one other person in the room shares your love for the Arctic Monkeys (also a good test to see if anyone else has musical taste). People will soon be asking you for song requests, and once you have established yourself as the flat DJ, you’ll inevitably have to invest in a set of decks by the end of term one. Warning: keep it WELL away from drink spillers AKA clumsy drunks, and never ever put a speaker on top of a fridge – trust me. 

3. A keyring bottle opener

Coming to uni a certified non-beer drinker, I knew I needed a way to make friends with these cool pint-downing people – and my secret weapon to achieve this was simple: a bottle opener. No matter your drinking preferences, a keyring bottle opener has helped start many conversations at random parties hosted by a friend of a friend’s coursemate. When you hear the words “anyone got a bottle opener?”, you’ll know that’s your cue, and nonchalantly offer your services – many a friend and bad decision has been made this way. 

4. A padlock

Whilst some blessed freshers will end up in a fairy-tale style halls with no pinching of any fridge or cupboard contents, unfortunately most of you will have at least one flatmate who assumes they can dip into your supplies whenever necessary. If you do happen to live with someone who doesn’t understand the difference between your cupboards and the local Tesco’s, measures will have to be put in place. Whether it’s investing in a heavy duty padlock or a biscuit tin specifically for stashing your *insert guilty pleasure here*, there are no lengths too extreme to protect your beloved supplies. And to be fair, I absolutely don’t blame you. 

5. Emergency first aid kit 

No matter how strong you claim your immune system to be, you will get Freshers’ Flu, and not be able to leave your bed. So, stock up at the start of term on Lemsip, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and any other soul redeeming remedies – anything that will revive you from feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus. The only redemption to said Freshers’ Flu is that everyone will be feeling the same and you can wallow in your infectious pits of self pity together. Also, no matter how much of a heavy weight you claim to be, the combination of: drinking, British weather and walking back home from the club means you will inevitably end up with a few mysterious cuts and bruises – so, go ahead and load up on the whimsical plasters and Sudocrem. 

6. A disco light 

If you want your flat to be THE place to go (or take note, if you really do not), then a disco light is a go-to investment: you’ll be able to make a party anytime, anywhere, with minimal effort – result! Turn those kitchen lights off, turn up the tunes and plug in your five pound multi-purpose USB disco light – people may well forget they’re in St Germans, mistaking it for TP instead. 

7. Hip flask 

From one broke student to another, a hip flask is an extremely worthwhile investment, especially when you reach the middle of Freshers’ Week and you’ve already spent the majority of your money on overpriced drinks and cheesy chips. For a sneaky tequila on the way to TP or a Fireball on the way to Fever, a handy hip flask will be your money saving best friend for the next three years. Note: you can also smuggle them into: lectures, gym classes and the library if you’re desperate. 

8. Cheap clubbing bag (and shoes for that matter)

This comes from a lesson learned by far too many of us – alcohol gets everywhere: on your clothes, on your bag, on, and probably in your clean Nike Air Forces (rip). I would strongly advise investing in a cheap bag you don’t mind getting absolutely trashed on a night out. And as for shoes, I think you may just have to put aside your pride and accept the fate that your shoes will be sticky, your only hope being that Circuit Laundry revives them back to a version of their original state – *puts new shoes on Christmas list*. 

9. IKEA bag for laundry 

On the topic of the beloved Circuit Laundry, I hereby advocate the usefulness of the humble IKEA bag. It will be week three of term before you finally cave and decide it’s time to do some washing – a decision you have come to reluctantly, only reached once you have no clean pants or socks left, and result to transporting your entire wardrobe to the laundry. There to save the day will be your beloved IKEA bag. Big enough to fit your entire wardrobe in and better than lugging your actual laundry bag outside (trust me, I’ve tried it), the IKEA bag is the friend you never knew you needed. Little did you know that the most useful thing you would get from your uni IKEA haul was not your many matching kitchen utensils or fake room plants, but the unassuming IKEA bag. 

10. Mattress Topper 

Forget the days of comfortable bedding, your first year accommodation room is pretty much guaranteed to have a mattress resembling an old shoe insole – I do not exaggerate. To quite literally soften the blow, a mattress topper would be at the top of my uni shopping list to elevate your once brick-like bed to a slightly more luxurious sleeping experience. Not to mention, those beds have been through a lot of things you probably don’t want to think about, so a mattress protector is a wise move – for the protection of the mattress, and yourself, from whatever has happened in that bed prior to your arrival.  

11. A bag that actually fits all your stuff in

We all love a tote bag, but sometimes that tote bag life is just not sustainable when you’re heading to uni for the day. The straps continuously fall off your shoulder, the one thing you actually want has fallen to the bottom of the bag and to top it all off, everything gets entirely soaked when it rains – you are moving to the South West of England after all.  Year seven vibes aside, it’s time to re-embrace the rucksack: one big enough to fit all your books, your laptop, charger, headphones, hopes and dreams, lunch and a water bottle in – trust me, ROKA is about to be your new bestie. 

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The 15 biggest lies that every Exeter student tells themself during Freshers’ Week

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