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Your Essential University Survival Guide

University. For many of us, it’s one of the best experiences of our lives. And this year, after all the uncertainty we’ve been through together, that fresh start feels all the more special. So, whether you’re a student starting your first year or you’re returning to a brand-new post-lockdown uni experience, we’ve put together this essential guide to preparing for university.

When does university start?

This will depend on your specific university and your course, but many universities in England will be starting inductions and freshers’ weeks on or around 20th September, with learning kicking off around 27th September. That means you have plenty of time to stock up on your university essentials, from new dresses to backpacks for women and everything in-between, right here at Cath.

What do I need to take to university?

If this is the first time you’ll be living away from home, there are lots of essentials you might want to add to your list. Most student accommodation, flats, and houses will include furniture and kitchen essentials, but there are still plenty of items you can take yourself, especially if you want to bring along a little heart from home.

A floral tote bag, reusable travel mug, assorted flowers, and two food storage containers on a table
Kitchen essentials

Whether you’ve got a long established repertoire of favourite signature dishes, or strictly a beans-on-toast kind of person, there’s some basics that will be handy to kit out your first kitchen.

  • Tableware, including plates, bowls, knives, forks, Tupperware, and spoons
  • Cooking utensils, such as pots, pans, and baking trays
  • Your own glasses, coffee mugs, and tumblers
  • Appliances like kettles, toasters, and anything else you use regularly such as a toastie maker (some halls may have these, but a cup of tea is an essential you don’t want to miss out on!)
  • Cleaning items, including dish soap, sponges, scourers, cleaning spray, tea towels, and wipes

Your university bedroom will likely become your little sanctuary of solace … your home away from home. It’s likely your space will come ready-prepared with the basic furniture like a bed and wardrobe, but there’s lots of easy ways to make it feel like home.

  • Bedding, including duvets, pillows, bedding sets, and sheets
  • Candles & scents – there’s nothing more emotive than scent, bring a little home with you with your favourite candle.
  • Wardrobe essentials for every season, including skirts, trousers, shorts, shirts, dresses, jumpers, tights, and winter coats
  • Shoes for every occasion, such as trainers, flats, boots, and heels


Then, make it yours. We recommend bringing plenty of home comforts, such as:

  • Your favourite printed throw cushions
  • Cosy blankets
  • Treasured Trinkets like photos, fairy lights, posters, and your favourite mementos

Assorted flowers in a jug on a bedside table next to a bed with a floral bedding set
Two Cath Kidston-branded floral washbags and assorted flowers in a jug on a bedside table

Most halls will include shared bathrooms, so if there’s limited space, you might want to keep your essentials in a cosmetic bag in your bedroom. You’ll need:

  • A toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and hair masks
  • Shower gel and soap
  • Any body-cleansing utensils, like loofahs, body brushes, or shampoo brushes
  • Facial cleanser, moisturiser, and any targeted skincare that you use
  • Toilet roll, bleach, a toilet brush, and bathroom cleaner
  • Plenty of towels!
What stationery do I need for university lectures?

Now that you’ve got your halls sorted, it’s time to consider your study essentials. Many students will be wondering what stationery they need and what to bring to university lectures. To get off to the best fresh start possible, we recommend:

  • Plenty of notebooks, pens, and a girls’ pencil case
  • A laptop or tablet to type up your notes and essays
  • Your essential study books
  • A reusable travel cup for tea on the go
  • A roomy backpack or large tote bag that can carry all of the above!

Three notebooks on a table in floral, dog-print, and sticker design on a wooden table
How to prep for uni


Now that you have your university supplies sorted, what about preparing for the experience itself?


Going to university is one of the most exciting and enriching things we’ll ever experience. Not only will you be going to study your chosen subject and hopefully kickstart your dream career, but you’ll also have new experiences and meet people from all walks of life.

If you’re moving far away from home, scheduling regular catchups with your family and friends is so important for staying in touch and connected to home. You’ll probably make a lot of new friends on your course too, and you can also meet new people in groups, clubs, and at social events.

Setting aside time to study and complete your university work will help you to keep on top of it – the constant work and deadlines can be overwhelming, so having a thorough plan will put your mind at ease.

Many of us have an idea of what we expect university to be, but sometimes, it’s the unexpected moments that bring us the most joy. Go into your university experience with an open mind and you’re sure to have the time of your life.