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College Survival Kit: 5 Things Every Freshman Needs
Pre-packed kits stuffed with such unimaginative consumables as ramen noodles, Snicker bars, sunscreen, band aids, sewing kit and so on are available at the student store on campus and are not worth taking along.
Rather, I hope that my suggestions will stimulate your thinking to come up with a list of really useful items.
#1: Power Strip
From my freshman year at USF to my final months before graduation years later, I found that there was always a shortage of wall sockets to accommodate all my own and my roommates' favorite electronic gadgets.
A power strip ranks near the top of the list of my college survival kit, and it is usually one of the first items which I unpack and plug in.
Instead of having to compete for the one or two available wall sockets in the room, I could tell my new roommate that she is welcome to use my power strip, and we were off to a good start.
A wide choice of power strips with six to ten outlets and surge protectors are available for under $30. When the inevitable power spikes come, all your electronic gadgets will be protected and their life-span extended at a time when you may be hard-pressed to replace them.
#2: Wireless Headphones
A good wireless headphone is another worthwhile gadget to include. It will allow you to kick back in your room and watch your video and listen to your music unplugged and untethered, while your roommate is studying.
When the situation is reversed, you can expect the same consideration from your roommate. You are also able walk about the room unhindered while talking on your cell phone and retrieving class notes from your desk.
I splurged for a top of the line wireless headphone, which set me back by about $250, but it delivers hiss-free sound quality as good as any wired headphone I have owned previously.
#3: A Hot Pot
A girl's gotta eat, right? If you have no access to a kitchenette in your dorm, a hot pot is an absolutely must-have item.
When you need a caffeine kick to push yourself a couple off hours past your normal bedtime, the hot pot becomes your late night buddy. The little gadget also comes in handy when you are too pressed for time to go to the cafeteria, but too famished to concentrate.
Break out your ramen soup pack, and in three minutes you have a cheap, hot, satisfying but perhaps nutritionally less than ideal meal. By the end of my sophomore year, I graduated from Maruchan fried noodle soup varieties to Annie Chun's miso and udon soups.
#4: Xbox Controller
Whether you are a jock, a nerd, or girly girl, you'll want to make the best use of whatever precious little recreational time you have. A quick game of Call of Duty or Halo provides the perfect time out between classes or lets you unwind after a long study stretch.
Most dorms have rec rooms, probably already equipped with a tv and in some cases, a Xbox. If you bring your own Xbox, make sure you keep it in your room when you're not using it. If not, it could get a hazing of its own by your roommates!
But I do suggest bringing your own wireless Xbox controller and a set of rechargeable AA batteries with charger. That way, you're always ready to play and you never have to wait for an open controller!
What would be in your college survival kit?
#5: Something Sentimental
You will also need to take along a personal item that has special meaning for you and will be a source of inspiration, when there are problems and setbacks to overcome.
In my case, it was a my high school graduation gift from my parents, a pair of Scandinavian champagne glasses, which were exact replicas used to toast Nobel Prize winners in Stockholm.
I first broke them out when I aced a tough midterm exam and toasted the occasion with my boyfriend.
Along the way, it became a tradition to celebrate each important milestone using the Nobel replica glasses through graduate school, when my first research paper was accepted for publication.
Although the Nobel replica glass is probably as close as I will ever get to the actual Nobel Prize, the thoughtful gift from my parents served as a reminder of the high hopes and expectations my parents have for me and kept me striving toward my long-term goals and dreams.
Bring What You Need
If this is the first time you will be away from home for an extended period, take the time to consider what to take along in your college survival kit.
Make a list and stick with it! Here are a few final things to keep in mind when getting your bags ready:
- Beauty/Hygiene - Don't plan on borrowing someone else's stuff. Pack your own makeup, curling irons, blow dryers, shampoo, etc.
- Seasonal clothing - Leave everything else at home. You'll be visiting around Christmas anyways!
- Electronics - Bring your laptops, smartphones, tablets, ipods, and portable dvd players with you, but don't forget the chargers!
- Room decor - Bedding and artwork will help make that bare doom room look a little more like home!
Don't overdo it and lug around too much stuff. Just take what you expect to use and perhaps a couple of favorite sentimental items you would really miss.