Life can get a little hectic sometimes, especially at university. You might find that, when you’re trying to squeeze in socialising, societies and studies, you don’t actually have a lot of downtime as a student. Not only that, but you’ll also be learning to live independently for the first time - which we all know is no mean feat. Between cooking, cleaning and paying your bills, there’s a lot that needs to be sorted out on a day to day basis when you’re running your own household.
But luckily, there are lots of cool gadgets available at a reasonable price that could save you both time and money while you’re away at university – as well as just making certain parts of your life, such as meal preparation, a lot easier.
With this in mind, here are the top 10 gadgets to streamline your student life.
For the kitchen
1. Slow cooker
Is your timetable littered with late lectures this semester? Late lectures and seminars tend to take place around dinnertime, which can sometimes make it difficult to fit in a square meal when you get home. And when that happens, most people will turn to cooking something quick and easy so that they can get cracking on their coursework.
Having a slow cooker means that you can chuck in all of the ingredients you need for a healthy dinner in the morning, leave your dinner cooking all day, and still come home to a freshly prepared meal when you’re done. Not only is it convenient, but preparing a meal in the slow cooker will probably work out a lot cheaper than grabbing a takeaway on the way home!
2. Electronic scales
The difficulty of cooking for one is that, no matter how hard you try, you’ll generally have leftovers. It is better to cook too much than too little, after all. And while it’s not the end of the world to have too much food – you can always just chuck it in the freezer for when you don’t have time to cook - it can still have an impact on the cost of your weekly shop.
Taking some cheap electronic scales to university means that you’ll be able to weigh up the exact quantity of food that you need - whether it’s pasta, rice, spaghetti, or anything else you can think of – so that you’re not left with any wastage.
3. Toastie maker
With research* showing that 40% of students named the humble Pot Noodle as their favourite food (closely followed by baked beans), it’s clear that students culinary tastes aren’t quite as exotic as Instagram would have you believe!
And it’s not difficult to see why students love a Pot Noodle, as busy people tend to err on the side of convenience when it comes to meal prep.
When it comes to ease, it really doesn’t get more convenient than the toastie maker. Toasties are quick to make, easy to eat, and provide the comforting warmth of home - all of which can help you to feel more settled in your new surroundings at university. Equally, when it’s your turn to cook for your housemates, making a round of toasties will save you hours of preparation time – and it’s not likely that anyone’s going to turn their nose up at a delicious cheese and tomato toastie.
*Endsleigh Lifestyle Survey 2017-18
For your uni work
4. USB stick or external hard drive
It’ll come as no surprise that you’re going to have plenty of work to do once you get to university. So much so that you might not actually have enough memory for it all on your laptop or computer! You might also want to backup your work, just in case you lose or break your laptop unexpectedly. You don’t want to be left kicking yourself after losing half of your dissertation because it wasn’t backed up.
Save yourself the stress by picking up an external hard drive. Even just grabbing a couple of USB sticks will ensure you’re never left in the position where you’re unable to save your work, and will usually have enough room for you to save your most important documents.
As mentioned above, you’re probably going to have a lot of coursework to hand in at university, all which is going to need to be printed off and presented as per your courses specifications. So instead of traipsing down to the library every time you have a deadline, why not pick up a (relatively) cheap printer that you can keep in your room?
But be warned, having a printer will automatically make you the stopping off point for anyone that’s behind on handing in an assignment – so make sure to charge by the sheet, unless you want to end up forking out for everyone else’s printing!
6. Portable charger
It’s always a hassle when your phone runs out of juice - but it’s especially irritating at uni, where you use your smartphone constantly to check your timetable, keep in touch with your flatmates and update the various group chats.
If your phone’s a little prone to running out of battery right when you need it, then it might be worth picking up a portable charger for when you’re out and about, helping you to stay connected when it matters most. They also come in handy if you need to use the SatNav, as this can quickly drain battery life – it’s unlikely that you’ll want to be stuck hundreds of miles from home without any idea of how to get back!
For everything else
7. Smart speaker
If you’re planning on becoming the life and soul of the party at university, then a smart speaker could be the way forward. Smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo Dot, will not only play music, but will also control video playbacks and read out news and weather updates.
Equally, if you’re in the middle of an assignment and unsure of a word or fact, you can just ask ‘Alexa’ – considerably quicker than googling it yourself! It’ll be like having your very own study buddy…
8. Fitness tracker
Whether you want to join a university sports team to kick-start your social life or you’re already an avid sportsperson, then a fitness tracker could be the gadget for you at university. Not only will this handy device save you money on expensive university gym memberships, but it’ll help you to track everything from your heart rate to your sleeping patterns – ultimately helping you to stay healthy and well-rested while you’re away from home.
9. Electronic key finder
Most people have, at some point or another, been in the position where they can’t find their keys for love nor money. Although you can always distinctly remember placing them in the designated spot, somehow they have always managed to disappear by the time you need to go to your next lecture.
If you have a propensity for losing your keys, then an electronic key finder could be a lifesaver. They usually come with a handy GPS fob which you can attach to your car keys, house keys, phone or wallet, allowing you to track the fob from your smartphone using the corresponding app. So, short of dropping your keys on a moving train, you’re unlikely to have to be without them for too long.
10. E-Book reader
Text books are, much like most other things at university, pretty expensive. And while you might be able to get some cheaper, second-hand copies of your required reading online, you may then have to deal with lugging a lot of heavy text books backwards and forwards from campus with you.
Not only are E-books usually a much cheaper option, but you’ll save yourself a lot of backache when you only have to carry a tiny tablet to lectures. You don’t have to worry about not being able to write on it either, as you can also make notes and bookmark pages on an e-book reader in much the same way you can on a physical version.
Making sure you’re covered
If you’re planning on taking any gadgets or other expensive items away to university with you, then it’s important to make sure they’re protected by a suitable student insurance policy. It could be that your university or accommodation provider has already arranged a level of contents cover for any belongings that you keep in your room while you’re staying with them. However, it’s important that you take the time to understand what’s covered and, more importantly, what’s not covered under this policy so that you can make sure all of your belongings are fully protected. You might even want to have a look into taking out specialist gadget insurance if you have any particularly expensive items that you’ll be taking out and about with you.