College Girl Essentials

So when I came to school last semester, I realized that maybe I didn't know everything about what my new life would be like. You're not supposed to know, but you learn. So I thought I'd offer my advice on what I think everyone, but especially girls, will use constantly at school; this includes the best clothing, appliances, toiletries, and other miscellaneous stuff I cannot live without.

Command hooks
I truly cannot explain how essential these are. The walls of our room were incredibly engineered so that they have such a thick layer of grime and grossness on them from decades of use that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will stick to them--except for Command strips. After winter break, I transformed my side of the room to make it feel more homey and inviting (and clean), and this would be a total flop without Command hooks. You don't have a lot of options in a dorm room: no nails, no screws, obviously nothing permanent. But no amount of sticky tack or duct tape can keep stuff on our walls. For a semester we grappled with the walls, and it's just not worth it. Even my pictures wouldn't stick to the walls for more than a day. Just go buy a ton of Command hooks. I probably have over 25 Command strips stuck to my wall on my side alone. I even cut the strips in halves or thirds for little posters. They are the only thing that works. Trust me. (Note: Do not use sticky tack--the oil in it will seep into your posters and ruin them!)

Rain boots, and snow boots for that matter.
So it's raining today. And it's January. And let me tell you: no matter how good your bus system is on your campus and no matter how little you think you'll have to walk, if you take the chance of getting your feet soaked, you have to sit with those soaked feet in incredibly close quarters for two, three, or more hours at a time. It's awful! Our buses get really crowded during the winter, so you need to be prepared to walk to class--always. Rain boots are totally en vogue on the UIUC campus. Hunter is a really popular brand (hopefully one day I can afford a pair) and they're nice and tall and warm. They're not nerdy at all and are really useful. Get some. The same goes for snow. We haven't had a big snow issue this year, but if there is another Snowpocalypse, I'd prefer to be ready for it. You have to walk in college--get over it by staying nice and dry and warm!

Water bottle
I'm one of those people that just feels better when I'm hydrated. I feel, look, act better. You can take it to exercise, to class, and just have it for taking vitamins in your room (trying to work on that). They give me a free one last semester, but I'm kind of picky. I wanted a small, inexpensive one in a pretty color with a straw attached (really good for exercising!!) and I just got a new one that filters the water before I drink it. A little overkill, but c'mon, it's recyclable! Check out the Bobble here. Personally, I think water bottles are really good for curbing your hunger during class (sometimes) and keeps you away from soda, which you have access to as much as you want at college. It's a simple way to stay a little bit healthier!

This isn't high school. You are here to learn. Most of the time. Everyone else is too, so during school hours, what you carry your books in isn't really too big of an issue. Function over form for this one. I have three classes stacked in a row three days a week, so a tote bag really isn't a great option for me. A backpack allows you to big, walk-jog, text, do other things much easier. No one carries a purse during school, so get over that, too. There are some cute backpack options, but don't worry too much about what other people think because everyone on campus uses a backpack for class. If you really really don't want one, I know Longchamp totes are popular. Not my thing, but it's an [expensive] option. I'm all about the thriftiness!

Hate to break it to you, but you'll need a business professional suit pretty early on in college, especially as an engineer. I had my first career fair before I finished my first month at school, so it may not get used much, but you still need to have one. Mine is currently all items from Goodwill, and I'm hoping if I get an internship over the summer that my parents will gift me with a congratulatory skirt suit (*Note: for women a skirt suit is considered more professional. Go figure.*). The thrifted one works fine in a pinch, but get yourself a nice one that'll last you forever. There are professional lunches, interviews, internships, career fairs, award ceremonies, professional meetings...even in college. Just get one.
Exercise gear

University sweatpants, fuzzy socks, and outrageous slippers
As I write this, I'm sitting in the most amazing and awkward slippers ever--they literally make my feet look like a Sesame Street character--and it's awesome! When you live in the same place that you're expected to work and study, you find physical ways to remind yourself if it's time to work or time to play. When I throw on my huge sweatpants and awesome slippers, I can finally relax after a long day at school (plus our floor is gross as heck). After a rainy day, your cold feet and legs will thank you!

Speaking of gross floors, I really really really wish we had a carpet. It's a little late to consider buying one when it's already a month into second semester, but I really regret not having one. The floor at least looks less gross, and when you wake up, you don't have to walk on the icky tile we have. The rooms I've seen with a big area rug look so much nicer!
Party attire
So at college there are always parties, on every day of the week, for every occasion you can imagine. At some point, you will go to these parties. I can almost guarantee that. You need one formal outfit, I like a dress, that you can wear out to really formal [nice] occasions. I kept an old homecoming dress that's simple enough to be worn many times. This is something you won't get dirty or ripped or messed up because this is a classy party. For the evenings out that might not be so classy, there's only one rule: you have to be okay with getting it dirty. It can be a dress (or dresses) or a sparkly top, anything that you feel comfy in that you can move easily in that won't be too warm if you're dancing that you're not worried about getting dirty. Worst case scenario: people (or you) will spill drinks on it, tear or snag something on it, or even puke on it. That stuff can't always be fixed, so just know that going in. I love Forever 21 for this reason: their stuff is cute, sexy, super cheap, and their polyester has something in it that makes it really easy to clean. I own a dress and a top from there and both refuse to stain permanently or wrinkle. Awesome. I also wear thrifted stuff, but that stuff has a closer place in my heart so I take better care of it.

Bike: Runner Up?
Truthfully, I don't use a bike. I never have. But I know people that refuse to walk and use their bike all the time, so I thought I'd include this anyway. Our campus is an insane during the middle of the day, and since I'm not the most coordinated of people, I would definitely run over people. But they are still very popular on campus.  Just be wary of the pedestrian traffic and be sure to not be too attached to your bike; theft of tires, seats, and whole bikes is a real problem on campus, and it will be exposed to the elements all the time. It does help get across a sprawling campus in record time, and you get to sleep in later and still make it to class on time ;)

Watch: Runner Up?
For most of the time, your cell phone is an easy way to check the time during class or just in general. That's a change from my high school. I usually use it just like any normal human being. But I like having a watch, too. You're not allowed to look at your phone during a Chemistry exam, are you?  Most classrooms in my university don't have clocks, or they aren't easy to see. so a watch isn't truly "essential," bu I think it's nice to have. If it's cute and simple, you'll wear it. I really love Fossil watches like this one, because you can wear them with anything. If I had an unlimited amount of money, I'd love to have a ceramic one (super expensive!). Maybe some day.

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