What to bring to St Andrews

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A quick checklist:

  • Single or twin sized bedding (a duvet, a pillow, a fitted sheet, a duvet cover and a pillowcase)
  • Towels (2-3)
  • Coat hangers
  • Pot and frying pan, spatula, kitchen/chef’s knife
  • Plate, bowl, mug, reusable plastic cups, and cutlery
  • Warm clothes
  • Formalwear including suit and possibly tuxedo for men, and cocktail and possibly evening dresses for women
  • Any food from home that you can’t live without

Since you are likely nervous about going to university, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that St Andrews is a far-flung destination with no shops and therefore it is necessary to pack everything you own. I did this myself and arrived at University Hall with two cars filled with stuff, including enough cookware to fill a commercial kitchen. Learn from my mistakes and only bring what you really need. Really missing your coffee grinder or potato ricer? There are shops all over the town where you can pick up any items that you are missing.

For your room you’ll need bedding – a sheet (fitted ones with elastic corners are much easier to put on), a duvet cover, a pillow, a pillowcase and a duvet. The University will sell you a serviceable bedding set, but it won’t be amazing so it’s probably worth investing in a better quality set from elsewhere. It’s tempting to bring lots of different sets for variety but you really only need one since you’ll wash it, throw it in the dryer and reuse it. If you desperately want to give your room a makeover, bedspreads will totally change the look without taking up too much storage space. Probably the only exception to this rule is towels (although you might want a spare sheet for any toga parties): you will need multiple towels since they have many purposes including wiping up spills and cleaning hard surfaces in your room.

You’ll be surprised at how few items you need to cook meals. Unless you think you’re the next Jamie Oliver, a pasta pot with a built in strainer (Bialetti makes a brilliant one), a frying pan, a sharp knife and a spatula are enough to create hundreds of dishes. Bring a corkscrew, a bottle opener and some plastic shot glasses and everyone will love you forever. If you aren’t from the UK, it is probably a good idea to bring a decent supply of any foods that you are really attached to as import prices and customs fees can be quite high.

If you live nearby then bring these things with you; if you don’t then you might be thinking about buying them in St Andrews. Your best choice for kitchenware is probably Tesco (on Market Street) or Morrisons (on the edge of town near the hospital), though there are a few independent stores. There are a couple of shops that sell linens but the selection is limited. For maximum choice, buy from somewhere online and get a delivery.

People mock the way the average St Andrews student dresses in Hunter wellies and a Barbour, but the stereotype will begin to seem logical on your first bitterly cold Scottish day. Hunters are one of very few brands of Wellingtons that won’t fall apart after a week and will provide protection from the cold. Barbours are probably the cosiest lightweight jackets that are commonly available. Add several jumpers to this combination and you could well survive your first winter in Scotland! As well as clothes for cold weather, you will need formal wear for balls and other events and as many fancy dress costumes as your case will fit: cowboys, toga, school and beach themes are almost certain to come up at some point during Freshers’ Week.

You will love St Andrews whether you pack everything on this list or whether you rock up with just some clothes thrown into a rucksack. Half the fun is working things out when you arrive, so take a deep breath, relax and enjoy yourself.

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