University is fun, exciting, daunting and scary. For many young people, this is the first time they have lived away from home for longer than a week or two.
It is also the first time that they have taken on the role of ‘everybody’ – that is, not only washing and dressing but doing the laundry, cooking meals, finding their way around a strange city and so on.
In other words, they are faced with the art and skill of ‘keeping themselves alive’. Some people rise to this challenge with aplomb, whilst others struggle.
When a uni. student struggles they can fall back on instant noodles with ketchup, assuming that tomato sauce is one of their five-a-day. And then there is all the other stuff…
Hence, sending them off to their halls of residence with a ‘care package’ is a great move, along with the occasional top-up parcel during the term for good measure.
So, what could you include?
1) Basic survival – cooking and food
Eating a balanced diet is essential for everyone, at every time of life and this is true for the university student.
Not only is money sometimes lacking, but so too are organisational skills and cooking skills. Thankfully, there are solutions.
The first item in the care package could be the book ‘Students Eats’, a fantastic book by a recent graduate on how to eat well on a budget. Better still, it can be downloaded onto their Kindle for quick reference.
You could also include a guide to websites such as Studentrecipes.com that provide all kinds of helpful hints and tips on cooking, storing and preparing key ingredients.
You might also think about including;
- A tin opener
- A bottle opener
2) Essential Bits and Bobs
There are many bits and bobs that we all need from time to time and these are essential for including in the care package for the uni. student. Essentials include;
- The essential compact umbrella that will sit at the bottom of a bag or rucksack until needed when dashing to or from uni. lectures in the rain.
- The hat, glove and scarf set for when winter really begins to bite.
- Sun cream for when the sun makes an appearance in the summer term – include sunglasses too!
- Pencils, pens and notebooks, along with a gift card for buying more stationery as and when they need it.
3) First aid kit
Is there anything more irritating than needing a plaster only to search high and low to find that none can be found?
A basic first aid kit is perfect for the care package because it is part and parcel of looking after yourself.
As well as making sure they get their medication on repeat (include this on the Google calendar you set up for them!), includes essential first aid items such as;
- Antiseptic cream
- Antihistamine cream or tablets
- Plasters of all sizes
- A small bandage, just in case
- Painkillers such as paracetamol
- Alcoholic wipes
- A pair of scissors
4) Sewing kit
Another really good piece of kit that proves invaluable is the sewing kit. There are some really basic kits out there that are just great for when a button pops off a pair of trousers or a shirt.
Include some needles as well as a reel of black cotton and a reel of white cotton, two colours that can work with more or less, any colour of fabric.
5) Personal hygiene
It can lapse, not through laziness but through lack of funds. Staying on top of personal hygiene is essential when at university, especially for roommates and flatmates.
Thus, a few essential personal hygiene items for when the funds start to run low at the end of term would include;
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner – why not be earth-friendly and opt for no-plastic packaging shampoo bars and soap?
- A bamboo toothbrush (no plastic!) and toothpaste
- Floss and mouthwash for keeping gum disease at bay
- Deodorant and body spray
- ‘personal’ items such as condoms, and a reminder of the importance of consent
- Face masks and creams for relaxing nights in as well as fun nights out
6) Stay-in-touch book
They may be off to uni. having the time of their lives but they need to stay in touch. For some students, making the effort to find a phone number or email address can be a bit of a nuisance.
You could always send them with a stay-in-touch book, a cross between an address book and diary that reminds them of important dates.
Or, you could use Google calendar to remind them of important dates, along with emails and phone numbers for relatives and friends.
7) It’s good to talk
In the main, most people enjoy uni. but this is now real life for many young people and for some, adjusting can be difficult.
Remind them it is good to talk by encouraging them to not only stay in touch but to talk when they are feeling low or depressed.
As well as phone numbers for friends and relatives, there are also helplines they could call, so why not include some information on who they can turn to when they feel they need to chat?
8) An IOU
Injecting a bit of fun back into it, include a series of IOUs that they can call on during the term. Include things such as;
- IOU a delivered pizza – perfect for when they need a little zap of takeaway but the funds are low. You order it and have it delivered to their halls of residence.
- IOU a train ticket home – for when they need to spend the weekend just being a kid looked after by their mum or dad again…