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8 College Essentials That No One Ever Told Me I’d Need

Posted by on Friday, December 2, 2011 in College Life, Freshman Life, General Information.

There are a few items that I either brought to college as a First-Year or bought as the years went by.  These items have more or less saved my life (and grades and money, etc) since I’ve been here. Allow me to list them!

  1. My over-the-ear headphones: These are not just reserved for DJs and audiologists.  Now, if you’re like me and you get distracted by outside sounds and other people’s voices (…and people just trying to talk to you in general while you’re studying), then these will be an excellent investment. A few times people have exclaimed, “hey, nice headphones! (Sarcasm intended) Are they big enough for ya?!” But I didn’t hear those snide comments, because my headphones are just that good! They got me through my freshman year’s finals (which were brutal) and haven’t failed me yet. They are surprisingly comfortable and crystal clear! I highly suggest getting a pair of over-the-ear headphones, whether they’re the kind I got, or not.
  2. My book light: Although my roommate and I function on a fairly similar sleep schedule (that is, class, sleep in the evenings, up all night. I don’t suggest it, by the way), there are times when one of us has to work while the other is ready for bed. Often, the one that has to work does not feel like sitting in the hallway or in the common room, so the bed or desk is the best option. The book light allows you to center the light that you need only on your work and not in the eyes of your drowsy roommate. Personally, I just clip mine on the headboard of my bed and work from there. So, do some research and pick the one that’s best for you! This one’s mine.
  3. A GPS of any sort: Whether you have the Vanderbilt App, Google Maps on your phone, or something else, I’d say a GPS is essential. Some people don’t mind getting lost. Some people want to get lost. However, when I need to find the closest thrift store or where Furman Hall is in relation to Student Health, I confide in my GPS. Because– honestly– standing in the middle of Alumni Lawn during lunch rush and pulling out the huge map they give you during orientation gets pretty old.
  4. A French press/tea bags: I was raised by the coffee lover of all coffee lovers. That being said, I’m kind of picky about having my coffee really strong (my mother’s the same way). Having a French press allows me to make my coffee as strong as I want it. It only takes about seven minutes! Get one of these if you’re looking for quick, strong coffee!
    -Secondly, tea is another great source of caffeine-on-the-go.  Black tea and green tea are especially high in caffeine; and tea is actually pretty good for you, too!
  5. Rain boots: For some reason I have never owned rain boots. I grew up in middle Tennessee, and we’re no strangers to rain or floods. But somehow I got through my first eighteen years of life without rain boots. However, when I came to Vanderbilt, they were the only articles of clothing that I didn’t own and desperately wished I did. Invest in a nice, dry pair of rain boots–they’ll save your life time and again.
  6. A table fan: Luckily, one is able to regulate one’s own temperature in the rooms in the Commons; but once you get into upperclassmen housing, the temperature is regulated throughout the entire building. My roommate and I like to have the room especially cool at night, and that’s difficult to achieve with the heat has kicked on full blast! (I’m looking at you, Branscomb Quad) A personal fan is a life-saver! Just switch it on before bed, and you’re set.
  7. Black out curtains: This may be my personal preference, but I’m sure some people would agree.  I had always loved having my room back home extremely dark– day and night.  So, when I came to college, it was a bit unnerving to have just blinds all the time; the light shone right through (and my roommate loved it– an added complication).  We compromised on black out curtains. Simply pull them back during the day while you’re an actual functioning human being, and enjoy the sunlight! Then just draw them closed before bed, and the rising sun won’t blister your skin, you vampire! These are an excellent buy.
  8. Nostalgia: Oh yes, nostalgia.  You will need something to remind you of home; remind you that you were okay at some point; remind you of that one night with those friends when you did that thing and got in a lot of trouble.  Whether it is a dozen pictures from your childhood/high school, your favorite movie, or a picture that your little sister drew you, I suggest you bring something.

(My cork board is on the left; my roommate’s is on the right.)

I hope this list has helped you prepare for your college shopping and planning. These are just a few things that I wish people had told me before I made the transition to college life. And now look! You’re ahead of the game!

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