Essentials you NEED before heading off to University

The typical stuff like notepads, textbooks and laptops are known necessities for entering University. This list is instead a curated list from 10 current Mac students and alumni of must have items to get you through your 4+ years at Uni. Although this list is written by Mac students, I’m sure this is consistent for most Canadian universities:

1. Flipflops/Slides [Price: $10-$50]

At the top of the list has to be slides/flipflops. Whether it’s for residence shared bathrooms, the gym or your off-campus house, shared bathrooms are always disgusting and you’ll be looked at as a Neanderthal if you step foot in one barefoot. Even for some questionable student houses, throwing on slides to walk anywhere is always a good idea to keep clean.

You can find super cheap slides at Wal-Mart or on Amazon for under $50 (depending on your comfort/brand needs).

2. A cheap/rundown bike [$50-$100]

Although probably harder to find nowadays — a bike is a blessing to have to get around campus or run out for some quick errands. Although the surrounding campus area and most other campuses offer SoBi/pay as you go bikes, it’s always nice to have one at your disposal. You’ll learn quickly with studying, socializing and eating that time is your most valuable resource as a student.

I recommend picking up a cheap/rundown bike for the simple reason that bike theft on and around campus is very common. I for one had a bike stolen in 3rd year, and although it sucked, it’s a much nicer peace of mind knowing that you aren’t losing a $500+ tuned up bike. If you do decide to bring a nice bike, please ensure you follow best lock practices (double locking with a U-Lock) and if possible, bring your bike inside your house if the landlord permits.

Universities often have student sales around welcome week so keep an eye out for bike sales either on campus or in local classified (Kijiji, Marketplace, etc.)

3. A nice, solid reusable Thermos/Water Bottle

For long study sessions, it’s always a good idea to have either a nice thermos and/or water bottle to keep around with you on Campus. Often times the Coffee/Tea provided at Campus isn’t necessarily piping hot, and will become luke warm in 5–10 minutes in the cheap cups they offer. Most places (Centro/La Piazza for example) allow you to fill up your mugs for warm beverages with a 10 cent discount.

Although there are dozens of water drinking stations around campus, you’ll quickly realize that half of them are either out-of-service or serve luke warm water, which is never a good time. Bringing your own bottle will be a huge time saver and save you from mediocre hydration.

You can find nice affordable thermos/water bottles on Amazon/Walmart. A few brands we recommend include: HYDRO CELL, Thermoflask and Contigo, though there’s so many bottle brands out there now, any one will work.

4. A Vacuum/Hand Vac

Student life can get pretty hectic/messy, and having your own vacuum on hand can be a huge time saver and ensure you keep your study/sleep spaces clean.

Although you can rent vacuums from Campus, it’s much easier just to have one on hand and reduce the risk of the vacuum breaking in your possession (and being charged full price for it…).

The one girl in my first year housing that brought a Vacuum became a quick favorite to borrow from whenever someone made a small mess and didn’t want to tread through a Canadian winter to grab a Vacuum. Trust me — it’s worth it.

I had this Cheap $40 Black+Decker one and still use it to this day. Though you can find many options on Amazon/Walmart for $30-$100 bucks.

5. Two-In-One Wallet/Keychain

As a student, it’s really easy to misplace or forget certain things when you’re always so busy. What’s often sold at Campus Stores, are these small wallets that can hold a couple cards and a built in keychain for your room key like this:

The one I used in Uni

Having your room key, building FOB, student card, credit card and even locker key all combined into one wallet is a huge life saver. If you want to step it up, you can even add a TILE or a lanyard to make sure you never misplace it.

If you’re living off campus — same idea, keep your house key, room key and cards all together and only have to grab one thing when you rush out the door.

6. Decent ANC Earphones/Headphones [$100+]

Although there are an abundance of silent study locations around campus and (sometimes) in your campus home, you often have to deal with some level of ambient noise when studying. If you’re someone like myself that needs complete or close to complete silence, ANC (or Active Noise Cancelling) headphones are a must.

Although there are some cheaper options out there, ANC is typically something you don’t necessarily want to cheap out on, though if you’re on a budget, there are tons of sub $100 options on Amazon/Walmart/Bestbuy.

In terms of our own experience, our ANC recommendations are as follows:

For earphones —

Best: we recommended the Apple Airpods Pro. Although a bit pricy, they have great features that also include transparency mode to allow you to more safely roam campus. [$262]

Budget: For a budget option, we recommend the Sony MDR-XB80BS, though decent ANC definitely doesn’t exist at this price point, but it’s the best best for about $100. [$90 + duties]

For headphones —

Best: we recommend either the Bose QuietComfort 35s or the Sony WH1000XM3 [$329, $448]

Budget: For a budget option, we recommend the Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 [$85]

7. Mini Whiteboard/LCD tablet [$40]

Mini whiteboards are an awesome tool to have when completing practice problems/solving complex equations. If you’re not studying on campus and have access to a full whiteboard, having your own mini board is great for studying in your dorm. I originally picked one up to use as a reminder board for deadlines, but ended up using to it to study and found it incredibly useful.

There’s tons of options on Amazon, though we’d recommend picking up the Amazon Basic Dry Erase Board as it seems to be a well-rounded, time-tested option.

On a similar note — LCD writing tablets are a great alternative that allow you to write and quickly erase without having to use up whiteboard markers. They’re of course much smaller and a bit less easy to use, but for $10, it’s not a bad investment for short-term studying.

I used this one, and it’s worked pretty well.

8. Space-saving Hangers [$23]

If you’re someone with a pretty significant wardrobe — you’ll realize quickly that your clothing storage is very limited on campus. Although some new residences have under bed storage options, many of the older ones still don’t, and so you’re limited to the storage they provide.

These hangers allow you to essentially 5x the amount clothes you hook up per inch of vertical space in the closet and are amazing for people with significant wardrobes to save some space.

I personally used these ones which lasted me comfortably through University.

9. A Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker (with a re-usable pod) [$70, $20]

Late night study sessions are a struggle without available coffee. Unless you want to wander to the 24/7 gas station Tim’s for coffee at 3 A.M., having your own option for coffee can be a great cost and time saver. This coffee maker is super slim and much more affordable than other options

You can pick one up on Amazon for about $70 here.

If you’re someone like myself that likes to be environmentally friendly where possible, I highly recommend picking up a Reusable K-cup. These allow you to use your own coffee and not the K-cup pods that are known to be a landfill commoner. Using your own coffee doesn’t only provide better tasting coffee, but also ends up being significantly cheaper than purchasing pods.

This is one of the products that I only got in 4th year that I had wished I had gotten in 1st. Huge lifesaver when you have last minute work for a deadline tomorrow and just don’t have it in you to mission to get coffee.

10. A nice mattress Topper [$60 -$200]

Residence beds are often incredibly uncomfortable and pretty rough. A nice mattress topper will run you less than $100 in many cases, and significantly increase the quality of sleep.

Sleep is an underrated asset you need to prioritize more in University than you think. Good sleep will benefit every other aspect of your social, academic and mental life.

I personally used the only here and loved it, but you can splurge for a much nicer one depending on your expectations of comfort.

Notable mentions:

  • A fan (Limited temp control in most residences/some off-campus houses)
  • A mini-fridge (Nice to store drinks/leftovers/alcohol/family meals)
  • A Water Filter (Brita recommended for Hamilton water — water bottles are mad expensive, this will save you lots of meal plan $)
  • A handy laundry basket (No rugged or hard to move baskets, the best ones allows you to just close it up with a nice handle and bring it down to your laundry area. People with the physical baskets often hurt themselves trying to get their basket down the narrow stairways.
  • A decent extension cord is a must — you have very limited socket space and will 100% need one.
  • Portable burner — Depending on your residence, you may be allowed to bring a single burner/stove top for your room. This is great if you bring a pot in order to make some late night ramen , KD or to warm up some leftovers.
  • A long charging cable — Often times the outlet locations are awful in some residences, and if you want to charge/use your phone in bed, you may need a really long cable to do so.
  • Condoms — Even if not for you, it’s never a bad idea to have extra condoms laying around. Always practice safe sex, especially on campus.
  • A comprehensive first Aid kit First/second year can get pretty wild, and you always should be prepared for the worst.
  • An emergency bag of rice — A zip-lock bag with rice is not as easily accessible as it was back at home. If you or a friend gets their phone wet or drops it in water, having this available will be a godsend.
  • Electrical Kettle — If a stove-top isn’t allowed in your residence, having a kettle will still be sufficient enough to make some cup Ramen/KD for those late night cravings.
  • A cheap laser Printer — Although the campus always has printer options, you really don’t want to rely on them to get assignments in. Having your own printer is definitely not a must have, but an awesome comfort to have, particularly if you’re in a faculty that involves many physical submissions.
  • Earplugs — For most people your roommates will be completely random strangers, many of whom will either be night owls or loud snorers. In the event that you unfortunately match up with one of these, having earplugs will be a godsend.
  • LIQUID soap — If you’re used to using bar soap, you’ll realize quickly that you don’t trust a single spot in that shower to put your bar when you’re not using it. Definitely have bottled soap for this reason.
  • A laptop lock — If you have a nice gaming laptop or MacBook that you may leave in your room sometimes, a laptop lock is a great option to give comfort that your possession won’t be stolen.
  • Bathrobe — Mornings can be tough. Removing one of the morning tasks like getting dressed can sometimes be enough motivation to get up and start your morning routine.
  • Portable charger — You don’t want to be the person to disturb a row of students in the middle of lecture trying to reach the outlet, nor do you want to go through the day trying to preserve the 10% of battery left on your phone. Portable chargers are very handy and saves you the trouble of outlet hunting.
  • Some 2-ply high quality TP — The residence TP is 1 ply and often times empty. Definitely bring your own TP to make sure you can wipe comfortably and not have to worry about sitting down with an empty dispenser.

Think we’re missing anything? DM us on Insta @Peernetco and we’ll add it to our list!

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