Home comforts can help ease the move for students flying the nest for their first year at university. Sharon Dale reports.
Leaving home to live independently is a big adventure that brings with it a combination of excitement and dread.
For the thousands of students about to start their first year at university, the feelings are heightened as accommodation is allocated on a “get what you’re given” basis, so they don’t know who they are sharing with. What’s certain is that the room will be basic and the décor will be bland.
Since it’s been proved that your surroundings can affect your mood, it pays to invest in a few home comforts. The process of collecting these can also help your teenager feel more in control of the situation.
So what to take? Begin by asking friends who have children at university – they are a mine of useful information. Another great place for advice is the thestudentroom.co.uk.
Obvious necessities include a duvet, pillows and two or three changes of bedding, plus a blanket/throw for topping off and wrapping up when it’s cold. The latter should be dark to cope with the inevitable spillages of food and drink. It can always be livened up with colourful cushions, which are useful for turning a bed into a temporary sofa. Ikea is a good place to shop for bedding. It’s reasonable quality and there are single sets from £10.
Storage is also a major consideration. A plastic under bed storage box is incredibly useful for clothes, bedding and tins of food. Collapsible storage boxes that are big enough to hold books and files are also invaluable. Ikea’s fabric Drona boxes, £2.50 each, look good and come in a variety of colours. If you need extra drawers, Argos has a four drawer “storage tower” for £14. Don’t forget to take coat hangers and you may also want to invest in a full-length mirror, as these are rarely provided and much-missed.
Some halls of residence have kitchen equipment and crockery but it’s good to supplement this with your child’s favourite mug, as it gives them “a little bit of home”. Their hot water bottle will come in handy too.
Personalising the room is important and the easiest way is to decorate the walls. Use white tack as Blu-Tack is often banned. Posters and prints are available from www.allposters.co.uk and from music magazines. On the Wall has a great selection in its shop on Boar Lane, Leeds, www.onthewall.co.uk. Postcards and photos look great as a montage, either stuck on the wall or a noticeboard.
Urban Outfitters do a “photo clothes line” for £8, though you could, of course, make your own with string and mini pegs. Lighting is another easy way to bring life to the space. Fairy lights are very popular. Ikea’s battery operated Ramsta set is £4.
Talking of the Swedish superstore, at this time of year you will find kindred spirits there. There are many parents with 18 year olds in tow, possibly arguing over the merits of a Jall mini ironing board for £4. A bargain, though you should keep a handle on costs.
As a friend of mine said: “It will all get wrecked anyway”.
* Ikea is the best place as teenagers generally don’t mind a trip there. Its designs are contemporary, reasonably priced and you can have a pitstop at the café. Primark can be an ordeal but worth it for cushions and throws. Other places that are great for inexpensive homeware are Argos, www.argos.co.uk; Dunelm, www.dunelm.co.uk; Wilko, www.wilko.co.uk; Home Bargains, www.homebargains.co.uk and B&M, www.bmstores.co.uk. Check out supermarket deals. George Home at Asda is good as is Sainsbury’s Home section.