Off to School - Residence living

Last week, there were hundreds 1st year university students running around downtown in bright coloured, clothes taking “selfies” with popular Toronto landmarks. It’s that time of year again, Frosh week aka orientation week for those heading to university for the first time. Across North America thousands of students are participating in this time honoured tradition, designed to initate neophytes into the rigours of university life. Ah, the good old days :) 

The first time I left for university, it involved a lot more than picking up some pens and notebooks. I was moving countries, so in addition to preparing for school, I needed a whole lot more stuff to tide me over because I couldn't run home on the odd weekend since my parents lived back in Trinidad. For my first year I moved onto res aka residence and I needed a lot of help deciding which items were absolute must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. My parents religously followed the guidelines provided by the university, while I balked at most of the stuff on the list because I was pretty sure I wasn't going to need flannel sheets in October.

Thankfully those days are behind me, but this summer I’ve been helping a good friend get her son ready for university. He's going to school in Ottawa and like many others he’s moving into residence. She's nervous, he's excited and I excited for him also because this is such a great step forward for him.  So based on advice from lots of sources -  students, school administrators, friends and everyone in between...they came up with a list that they used to get him ready for school. He’ll be sharing a townhouse with 3 other roommates, he’ll have his own room but will share living, dining, kitchen and bathroom facilities with 2 boys and 1 girl. I went shopping with them a couple of times and I had so much fun doing this that I thought I'd share the experience with you. 

The first list is Mom’s, and covers some of the necessities that she thinks he'll need for residence life.  The second is J’s list, which was filled with things that he felt would make him comfortable and not miss home too much. 

Mom's list

  • All in one bedding - bed in a bag - affordable, matching, and requires little or no thought on what sets go together.
  • 3 Towel  sets - One in use, one dirty and one spare
  • Drawstring laundry bag - portable and easy to use, some come with a zippable front pocket for detergent and dryer sheets so when you can keep everything together when you’re going to do laundry. Who's kidding who? That bag is coming back home filled with laundry.
  • Calendar/cork board combo for organization with assignments and labs. – it’s the digital age, no self respecting techie uses those things
  • Dishes and cutlery for four - for all the meals and snacks that J plans on eating at home ;)
  • iPhone dock/alarm clock –  It can charge his phone, play music and help J get up on time for early morning classes :)
  • Under bed storage bins and regular storage bins 
  • Desk lamp for late night studying
  • Bath robe & flip flops for showering and communal bathroom living. – J nixed this one - really mother, a Bathrobe!!!
  • Caddy for transporting toiletries. – Nixed also but I have a feeling that he’ll probably find this pretty useful eventually
  • Extension cords and power bars - it’s impossible to predict where the outlets will be.
  • Laptop and case for classes and homework - J wanted a new Macbook Air, mother nixed this because there's nothing wrong with his 2 year old one. 
  • Ipad for those times when the laptop is too heavy
  • Printer - No explanation required
  • Fan for air circulation and white noise at night
  • Clothes hangers & closet organizer to extend space
  • Cleaning supplies including Febreeze– No explanation required
  • First Aid kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Flash light


J's List

  • A car – No explanation required :)
  • Bar Fridge - an in-room fridge will make life a lot more convenient - have to see if it's allowed as per the fire code :)
  • Single serving smoothie blender – For protein smoothies after morning workouts 
  • Nespresso or Keurig machine - fresh coffee in the morning makes those late study nights a bit more bearable - Nixed by mom, jar of instant coffee packed
  • Small Microwave – For heating up meals during late night study sessions. There's one in the kitchen
  • Full length mirror - it’s not always guaranteed that there will be one when you get there.
  • Mattress pad - dorm beds aren’t made for comfort ;)
  • Beats by Dr Dre head phones - listen to labs to watch Netflix without disturbing others, and also to block out the noise from roommates - Nixed the Bose ones he scammed off of Auntie Rhonda are okay
  • Emergency money from Auntie Rhonda - No explanation required :)


For the most part, most of these seemed quite reasonable and despite the nixed items off of both lists, he's starting 1st year university next week - I can't wait to hear the fun times he's having and the memories he's making. See you at Thanksgiving J :)


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