Underpacking and overachieving: What to bring to survive residence hall life

Hannah Cooper/Staff

One of the most nerve-wracking things for incoming freshmen is the question of what to bring. Some are over-packers, prone to bringing a different set of sheets for each month, while others under-pack, often forgetting that they need hangers to put clothing into a closet.

UC Berkeley’s administrators have got you covered — the housing website has a “Move-In Checklist” with some important items that students might need. After reviewing this list and spending two years living in residence halls, I can say with certainty that some things on this list are best left at home, and there are others not on the list that are necessities. Here are some of both.


What you don’t need:

  1. A television

While some might find it hard to leave home without a source of entertainment, we live in 2018, not 1990. Everyone has a phone in their pocket and a computer in their backpack — why would you need another monitor?

Not only that, but it’s a lot easier to buy a Netflix or Hulu subscription than it is to lug around an 30-inch television display. Streaming services are both easier to manage and more cost-effective than cable, especially with the way technology is advancing. An added bonus is that it’s a lot easier to binge-watch and procrastinate at the same time when you have both YouTube and your midterm essays open in two tabs on your laptop.

  1. A landline telephone

If you thought bringing a TV to college was over-the-top, get ready. The campus’s checklist specifically notes that “it’s good to have access to a landline in case of emergencies.”

How often do students even call someone? We all hate talking on the phone. It just makes sense to have a phone that can text, too, rather than just call. On top of that, the dorm desks are so small that there’s really no room for a landline.

  1. A stereo system

Imagine you’re studying for your 8 a.m. final. In preparation, you crammed from morning to night, and then you slid into bed nice and early at 10 p.m., hoping to catch some Z’s before the test. Suddenly, you’re awoken — by some poppin’ EDM.

It might be nice to bring a small, portable speaker — folks who do so are often the saviors of house parties — but anything bigger would just take up space in the tiny dorm and in your roommates’ ears.


What you need:

  1. A reusable water bottle

I can’t count how many times my Hydro Flask has saved my life. Before my Hydro Flask was my Brita water bottle, and before that was another off-brand water bottle. Humans need water to live, and you’re going to forget that now that you’re on your own.

A water bottle — maybe with stickers, maybe with a cool design — will be one of your best friends going through classes. It’ll always be by your side, even during tests!

  1. Snacks

There are a bunch of campus dining halls and markets, but never underestimate the power of a food stash under your bed. When the dining halls are closed and you’re cramming for that test you forgot about, you’re going to need some power food — having some granola bars or trail mix at the ready is a game-changer.

There’s a lot you can cook for yourself in a microwave, too. Ramen, mac and cheese, rice, pizza rolls — the list goes on. And it’ll make sure you have something to offer your floormates as you try to make new friends.

  1. A teddy bear

I can already hear the complaints: “I’m an adult now; I don’t need any stuffed animals! That’s for little kids!”

Listen. There are times you’re going to be lonely or stressed or tired, and that’s when no electronic device or water bottle will help. It’s always good to have a furry friend by your side when your human friends are busy. And you can stay on the UC Berkeley brand with a teddy-fied golden bear.

With granola bars under your bed and your teddy bears under the covers, you’re all set for college life. Good luck, new Bears!

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected].