BEN DALTON splits packing into three easy steps: things that can be played with, things that can be talked about, and – believed by wisebodies nationwide to be most important – things that lead to food.
Nine out of 10 times, packing for university involves noisily weeping red tears of blood in the downstairs toilet, as you listen to the harassed yowls of your mother trying to force an adult cactus into your suitcase alongside the yoga ball. Packing is not fun, and it’s never easy.
But, fear not! Such sticky bedlam is easily avoided. Whether you are a seasoned packer or a case-cram virgin, follow The Tab‘s simple rules of what to pack, and you can’t go wrong. We’ve even split your stuff into categories – things that can be played with, things that can be talked about, and things that lead to food.
1. Things that can be played with: After years of hearing doctors being scorned on Holby City for “mixing work and play,” we all came to the indoctrinated conclusion that the two probably aren’t the cosiest of bedfellows. Wrong! The Cambridge quotidian makes a point of blurring the work-play continuum to such an extent that you will soon forget where the lecture theatre ends and the inflatable ball pool begins. At uni, you will need things to play with. Pack all of the following:
- A laptop: Essays, Facebook, essays, Minesweeper, essays, Sims 2. You see the correlation. A laptop is the Vegas wedding chapel of work and play. Don’t forget to pump your iTunes brim-full of crackers: nothing excites a fellow fresher more than a comprehensive discography of The Venga Boys.
- Jazzy stationery: Approximately half of your time at Cambridge will be spent reading or writing. If your stationery is funny or stimulating, KS2 mathematics suggests that you will be happy for at least half of your time here. Last year, I saw a jolly newcomer exhibiting a pencil-case embroidered with ‘2B or not 2B’. This is a perfect example of the potential jaw-breaking hilarity of stationery.
- Fancy Dress: As vital as pulmonary arteries. Your Ford KA understandably lacks enough room to accommodate half the costume warehouse of The National, so just stick to the classics. A bed sheet is indispensable in its triumphant doubling as a toga and a ground sheet for some good old-fashioned duvet-Olympics. Just bend a metal clothes hanger round your head and adorn with fresh ivy for that ‘Caesar’ finish.
- Body paint: It rarely takes long for the savvy student to realise that painting on clothes is actually cheaper than buying them. Get ahead of the game while you can.
- Monopoly: Never underestimate the pulling power of the common board game. People flock to Scrabble tournaments for exactly the same reason they climb ladders and descend snakes: hot sex. If it requires dice or includes a bronco that bucks, wallop it into your weekender! It’ll break more ice than the Titanic.
2. Things that can be talked about: For some freshers, conversation flows more freely than cocked-leg wee at Crufts. For others, it is more of a water/desert situation. For those craving oratory victory, below lies a smattering of nifty ‘talking points’. Your bacon, they will save. Pack, pack, pack:
- The Mona Lisa: The classiest of pin-ups! There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as walking into a prospective friend’s room to be met with those all-following eyes and placid smile. Surely someone who doesn’t mind waking up in the night to the sight of Leonardo da Vinci in a wig has cajones enough to warrant a chat. For those of the more nervous disposition, cover Mona’s eyes with post-it notes during the night.
- Venus fly trap: More ‘organic’ than fly paper, converts CO2 into oxygen, and looks fresh off the set of Jumanji. Perfect.
3. Things that lead to food: Students are often hungry. You’re now a student. Therefore, you will get hungry. You need to pack things to accommodate this hunger:
- Wok: Man cannot live on bread alone. These words teach us it’s probably best to pack a wok as well. Woks literally turn water into wine, and poo into scran. You don’t have to be Heston to wop up a mouthful in one of these nosh-deities.
- Mugs: Commonly regarded as king prawn of any comprehensive pottery collection, and wonderfully sociable too. A mug of leek and potato soup or banoffee pie gently warms any friendly get together. What’s more: if you sip slowly from them whilst making cat eyes, they can really help buffer sex appeal.
So there you have it. Failure to comply with these helpful nuggets will lead to you being miserable and ravenous. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Illustrations by Olivia Vane