What To Pack and What Not To Pack!

A handy guide of what to pack and what not to pack when first coming to college, courtesy of Annabel Jenkinson.

I’m Annabel and I am a self-diagnosed “over-packer”, whether it’s a weekend away, or I’m starting university! Here is a little list of things I recommend bringing (and not bringing) to uni from my experience.


  1. Don’t forget the obvious things like medicines, ID, laptop, chargers and teabags (teabags certainly count as an obvious and essential item to me!) 
  2. Bedding and towels – In John’s there is an option to have your bedding done in college. I would advise you to bring more than one set of bedding if you are taking your own, just in case you can’t get to a tumble dryer.
  3. Lots of warm clothes and a very good waterproof coat – My cousin went to Durham and told me this and I thought “haha, it can’t be that cold.” I am here to tell you that it can, especially when the wind blows right up the Bailey! Umbrellas aren’t much use in Durham with all the wind, so a good hat or coat with a hood is a good idea. 
  4. Formal clothes – John’s has weekly formal dinners you can attend where everyone gets a little dressed up and puts on a gown for a nice dinner in Leech Hall. Freshers’ formal is not one to miss! 
  5. Wellies or walking boots. – Don’t be the silly fresher slipping and sliding up the bailey because wellies aren’t cool. Wellies are cool in Durham, or at least cooler than falling over. 
  6. Clothes hangers – your room won’t have many at all.
  7. A mug and other crockery (not too much) – John’s is fully catered but it can be useful to bring some crockery. You have to bring your own mug to breakfast for hot drinks. A bowl and spoon can be good for when you miss breakfast (it will become common no matter how much you think you will never do this. Drinking cereal from a mug because you have no bowl or spoon at 8:50 before your 9am lecture is not the best plan.)  
  8. Doorstop – I propped my door open sometimes in freshers’ week and then spoke to people walking by. Not all the time, though!
  9. Biscuits – Seems rather odd, but my neighbour came over with some biscuits when I arrived to introduce herself and we had tea (see, those teabags really are a necessity!) and I thought this was such a lovely idea. 
  10. Decorations – fairy lights are highly recommended. I found some fabulous ones with clips on that you can hang photos from. 
  11. Photos and pins – For your pinboard to make you feel at home.
  12. Other items to remind you of home – it could be cuddly toys, a special blanket your grandmother bought you for Christmas, or anything really!
  13. Blanket and dressing gown – excellent for when the weather is really cold and for movie nights with friends. (Tip – put the blanket over your bed then all the popcorn and crumbs go on that rather than in your bed. Genius!) 
  14. A corkscrew/bottle-opener – unless you are really nifty with a knife or something, or a key in my case.)
  15. Insurance, especially if you have an expensive musical instrument, laptop or something – make sure they are insured. You can get contents insurance, mine came included or incredibly cheap with the bank I had my student card with. 
  16. Railcard – handy for trips home or day trips to Edinburgh and York. 
  17. Hooks that hang over the top of your door so you can hang your coats up.

Don’t bring:

  1. Millions of copies of your passport. One copy in a safe place in your room is fine. 
  2. A ridiculous amount of clothes – the college wardrobes aren’t huge, or at least mine wasn’t. You can always swap your clothes around a bit when you go home!
  3. Don’t get a massive drying rack! Seriously, don’t. 
  4. A huge rug – see your room first, then get a rug to fit. (Covered market in Durham is highly recommended!) 
  5. An iron – there are some in college. 
  6. Kettles aren’t allowed, but there is one in the corridor kitchens. 
  7. A printer – I took one but found it took up a lot of space, and it was so easy to print in the college library that I didn’t need it. 

I hope my little guide has helped you to get your head round the musts and must nots of packing for university! Have a great Freshers Week, and a great year!

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