Medical School / Money

Starting medical school… What To Pack

Thousands of aspiring medical students have now received their results and hopefully learnt that they’ll be starting medicine in September. It’s looking like the incoming cohort will be bigger than ever, with a record number of first year medical students.

For anyone who was unsuccessful this application cycle, please don’t loose hope! Remember that less than half of applicants each year get in on their first try. If you’re now wondering what to do with yourself, check out this post on the benefits of a gap year!

For those of you who were successful in applying to medical school this year, congratulations!

You are probably super excited about starting university soon, but might be thinking ‘now what?’.

As an incoming medical student, what should you be doing between now and your first day?

This is going to be the first in a series of posts as we approach September.

First of all, don’t worry about being super productive! You’re not yet a medical student, don’t worry yourself with learning content before everyone else or getting a head-start on reading. The first weeks of university will be focussed on settling you in, introducing the main topics of medicine and allowing students time to adjust their learning style for university teaching.

There is no expectation that you will have any knowledge above A Levels at the start of university, and it won’t necessarily benefit you to have already studied the content.

If you feel like you do need something to do between now and starting, you could start assembling you packing for halls (if you are moving into student accommodation).

I had a great time living in halls. Being at a London university and also coming from London I was very lucky to have the option to live in my childhood home or move into halls. I am so glad I chose to live in student housing rather than at my parent’s home. If I were moving into halls in September, this would be my packing list:

Please note that many of the links to products included below are affiliate links, which means I would receive a very small payment when a product is purchased through the link. I’m not recommending anything that I haven’t owned myself or know of very happy owners though, so you can buy in confidence! Many things can be brought from home, or bought at local shops. I’ve only provided links to specific items I think are great.


Below are the items I think are essential, I would recommend everyone has their own for moving into halls.


  • Duvet
  • Pillows (2 minimum)
  • A mattress topper (check the mattress size before getting there!)
  • Bedding (sheets, pillow covers, duvet covers etc) ideally have two sets, so you don’t end up without when you ned to wash them
  • Laundry basket – One that you can carry down to the laundry room is best
  • Door stop – honestly this little thing makes halls so much more sociable
  • Clothes hangers for a wardrobe (if there is one in your room)


  • Frying Pan
  • Sauce Pans (preferably with a lid)
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cutlery
  • Mugs
  • Glasses
  • Chopping Boards (at least one plastic for foods that smell, like onions)
  • Wooden Spoons


  • Towels
  • Toiletries (Obviously everyone uses different products! I’m assuming you’ll know to bring a toothbrush etc)
  • Bath Mat (if you have an ensuite)
  • Slides or Flip-Flops (for communal showers)

Non-Essential, but recommended Items:

Below are some items that I really enjoyed having in halls or that I was envious of friends for having.

  • A small clothes horse (not all clothes can be put in the tumble dryer!)
  • A rice cooker (perfect rice every time, plus who has time to cook rice in a pan…)
  • Fairy lights – is it even a student’s room if its not adorned with fairy lights?
  • Playing Cards
  • Bluetooth Speaker – Being able to play music at parties, in the park or on campus is amazing, and you always get points for being the person who remembered to bring their speaker!
  • TV (if you have a small laptop, or you are planning on bringing a gaming console)
  • Bicycle – having a bike at university, in my opinion, is essential. Free travel!
  • Portable Charger – another great piece of kit, a goof portable charger like this one will put your phone from 0-100% up to 5 times before needing to be recharged itself. It’ll also very happily charge a tablet.
  • External Hard Drive – because you will be creating so many notes, essays, photos, videos and documents that your laptop storage WILL fill up. Having it all on the cloud is great, but an external hard drive gives you the added safety and protection for your data.
  • Noise cancelling headphones – Since getting these, I absolutely think they are an essential, but do understand that they are a big investment for any medical student. The Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are amazing for studying, they totally cancel out all sounds in a library or coffee shop and even on planes and trains. The newer version, the M4, is now out and apparently they’ve made these already amazing headphones even better.


These are items that you absolutely DO NOT NEED. But, if I had been able to afford them as a first year student, I would have bought them. This was my wishlist as a student in halls, and I still want many of these things for myself. Think of it as the student flex list.

  • Heater/Cooler Fan – The Dyson fan is great, it acts as a heater in the winter and a cooler in the summer. It is however incredibly expensive! If somehow you have a cool £500 lying around (do any students?!) then absolutely go for it! I will be very jealous as I have wanted one for years!
  • Wireless charging padThis one by Anker is supposed to be great, and means you don’t have to constantly plug your phone in throughout the day when working at your desk.
  • Laptop Tray – If, like me, you end up spending a lot of time laying in bed trying to work on your laptop you will want one of these. With your laptop slowly cooking your legs, getting increasingly hot as the internal fans get louder and louder, you start to wonder if it will overheat! Laptop trays can now come with inbuilt fans to aid your laptop in cooling as well as lifting it off the fabric of your duvet. Definitely on my wishlist!

Have I missed anything off my list? What would you have on your ‘Essentials’ list?

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Connor is a medical student at King’s College London. For the 19/20 academic year he is undertaking an intercalated iBSc in Imaging Sciences, also at King’s.

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