What to bring when you first come up to Cambridge!
There are all sorts of lists floating about which outline what is and isn’t worth taking to uni. Because provisions vary between different universities (and in the case of Cambridge even between different colleges) we’ve put our own one together to help guide you.
Every college room contains (and so you will not need to bring):
- A mattress (& mattress protector), duvet, 2 pillows
- Desk, chair(s), wardrobe
- Fridge, hob (in the kitchen!)
- Pin board fixed to the wall
Some college rooms contain (and so you may want to hold off buying until you get here unless the room system indicates for certain that your room lacks):
- Toaster, kettle, microwave (every Cripps kitchen contains these, but those in Chapel & North Court tend not to. Remember though that Chapel & North Court rooms usually share kitchens between 2 people, so it might be worth waiting before you know what the other person’s buying)
- Desk lamp (Cripps rooms usually have one built into the wall, and some rooms in North & Chapel Court have a desk lamp)
- Bed reading lamp (North & Chapel Court rooms usually have these – as do some Cripps rooms)
College rooms do not contain (and so you should try to bring)
- Duvet cover, pillowcases, bedsheets (bring a couple of sets – laundering them can become a bit of a chore otherwise)
- Hangers for your wardrobe
- Extension leads
- Ethernet cables (most rooms still don’t have WiFi (I know, I know, we’re working on it!) – you can just pick ethernet cables up from the welcome area when you first arrive, but feel free to bring your own if you want an extra-long cable, as college ones won’t always reach the bed if you want to watch films or anything)
- Mixed selection of cutlery, crockery and kitchen utensils. A typical list might include: Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, knives (inc. a sharp knife), forks, spoons, tin opener, bottle opener, saucepan, frying pan, grater, colander…
- An iron and ironing board (there are communal irons and boards found in the laundry room, so you can use these for free if you like – but do remember these will not always be available)
- Alarm clock or loud smartphone with alarm – I can absolutely assure you won’t be making any 9 o’clock lectures otherwise!
When you get here, we’d recommend buying:
- Stationery (i.e. paper, pens, pencils etc) – the Rymans on Sidney Street does good NUS discounts
- Washing up liquid & tea towels
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, toothpaste etc
- Basic medications (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen, flu relief etc)
- Washing tablets/powder (the washing machines themselves are free to use but the college doesn’t provide tablets/powder)
- Basic foodstuffs such as cereal, milk, tea, coffee etc
General essentials you should try and bring:
- The letters and forms sent to you by the College, some passport sized photographs, your NHS/medical details
- A cheque book will come in very useful or a card reader for online payments (online banking is handy for paying your college bill)
- Clothes, underwear and shoes (pretty helpful really, but it’s very easy to bring a lot more than you’ll actually wear unless you don’t keep on top of your laundry – not advisable!)
- Warm items (Cambridge can get very cold!) – coat, gloves, scarf, hat…
- Pyjamas and slippers (a dressing gown can also come in useful for dashing to and from the shower)
- Some sports/gym clothes and trainers (the college has a great free gym & weights room)
- A white shirt and black skirt/trousers for Matriculation
- A costume related in some way to your degree for the all-new dress-as-your-subject themed freshers’ bop (we’ll be putting some costume inspirations & ideas up on the official freshers’ Facebook page soon!)
- An NUS card will almost definitely prove to be worth its small cost. With 12.5% off in Rymans, 10% off in the Coop, 5% off on Amazon, 40% off at Zizzi, 10% off Asos, 50% off Spotify Premium and many more discounts, it’s well worth thinking of
Thanks to the 9 month room license at St John’s, students are able to retain access to their rooms over the Christmas and Spring vacations so, unlike many other Colleges, there is no need to clear any belongings from rooms between terms. However, students must vacate their rooms during the long vacation (summer). Students are able to leave some belongings in college storage for free over summer, with a maximum of around 4 reasonably sized boxes for UK students and 8 for international students. You’ll get an email about this at the end of the year to explain the process. So, do remember, what comes to Cambridge or what you acquire during the year while you are here will almost definitely have to leave again at the end of the academic year!
Things you might want to wait and see about:
- A printer. Several people I know brought one with them and never took it out of the packaging! There are relatively cheap printing options in the library. You can even set your laptop up to print to the library printer without leaving your room (ask the JCR computing officer about how to do this when you get here!)
- We’d recommend NOT buying Microsoft Office before you get here. You can get a free version of the latest Office from the University Computing Service, so buying it in advance could end up being a bit of a waste of money
- Books and DVDs. I brought tons and tons with me and I’m pretty sure I didn’t read/watch any of them. There usually isn’t enough time. Netflix could come in handy though!
- Rugs/cushions/lamps and other ‘stuff’. It’s so much easier to buy these sorts of things once you get here and can really assess what you want for your room.
- Posters and decorative items (there’s a Poster Sale in Cambridge in the first week). The college does have a rule though that blu (or white) tac, selotape and other adhesives cannot be used on any painted surfaces – so you can only stick these to wooden areas of the room or pin them to your board. If you want to hang items around other parts of the room, you are only permitted to use adhesive picture hanging strips
- Black-tie evening wear – you’re very unlikely to want anything very formal during Freshers’ Week, so you’ll probably only need these from the second term onwards! When the occasion calls for it, you will be told well in advance, and have time to buy/hire appropriate items from a Cambridge shop.
Other things to consider:
- The majority of students bring a laptop, it’s recommended although not essential. The College computer rooms are well-stocked and accessible 24/7! If you do buy a laptop, it’s worth getting it within a month of term starting, as you can then claim back half of the cost (up to £300) on the Learning and Research fund (you’ll learn more about this later). Note that you can only claim for electronic items like laptops every few years, so don’t expect to do this every year!
- Similarly, a lot of people arrive with a bike, but there are plenty of bike shops and second hand sales that will take place in Cambridge (especially during Freshers’ Week!)
- Gowns are available for purchase when you sign in for the first time, but are also available from Ryder & Amies and Ede & Ravenscroft. The latter sells slightly more expensive ones, though realistically the quality is around about the same.
- A form of identification (such as a driving licence or passport) is extremely useful
International students should remember their paperwork and UK plug adaptors.