Two months into my three-year course, I’ve got an idea of what student nurses need for the lecture part of the course. I bought so. much. junk ready for the first day, but really it can be narrowed down to three main must haves.
You have no idea how annoying it is carrying around my MacBook Air, even though it is light and tiny. Plus, it’s not exactly safe lugging around a laptop. One knock or bump and it could be a shattered screen – or worse. Most of my books are of the electronic kind. So bringing my laptop in every day is really overkill, especially with a library full of actual computers if for some reason I need to do anything mega complicated. So I’ve found a good alternative – Amazon Fire tablet. It’s super light, it has a totally free app store so I can access my PDFs, e-books etc and WiFi. It’s been brilliant so far, and for £49 it’s student-friendly on the old wallet, too.
HINT: Download lecture slides so you can flick between them at your own speed. It makes everything so much easier to understand.
I bought a £20 leather uber-stylish New Look bag thinking it would do the job. After all, how important is a bag when it’s going to be stuffed in a cupboard during skills lab and shoved under a chair in lecture? But it soon became clear it was great for the commute, but for a nursing student with a giant anatomy and physiology book, tablet (see above), Filofax and stationary it couldn’t work. In fact, it broke like, ten days after I bought it. So it’s worth investing in something that’s going to last. Like my lovely Haven. It’s the envy of everyone struggling with their cheapy backpacks. At £70 it’s not cheap. But I know it’ll last the full three years, plus lugging it around with my tunic and trousers in. (Always take a spare uniform has been the resounding advice from third years – no one wants to work with poop on their dress.)
HINT: Ensure you pack your lunch away from your laptop/tablet. No one likes a yoghurt spillage.
My uni has a lovely little app with all my weekly appointments, lectures, skills labs etc. But it’s slightly complicated. Each lecture and session has a code, for example, LEC15. This doesn’t exactly tell you what pre-reading is needed. or indeed what it’s actually about. So, you have to open the app to get the code, then open the PDF module guide, CMD/CTRL + F and find LEC15. Then find what the session is (e.g. Bioscience: Endocrine). We then access the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) to see if there is any pre-reading, do that, then turn up. A little exhausting. Instead, I’ve got a bespoke whiteboard with the weekly plan, including lecture code, room number and what it’s about. That’s good for the Monday morning ‘am I in uniform or not today’ double-check. Then, I have my amazing Filofax for any day-to-day changes and basic life organisation.
HINT: Don’t plan too far in advance in case of room/schedule changes.
Things I thought I’d need but I actually don’t need
I thought I’d need pens, pencils, calculators, notepads, post-its, sticky tabs and the rest. Actually, all I’ve used is the free notebook the uni gave me on induction, and my trust four-colour Bic pen. Everything else is sitting on my desk at home.
Super pricey food containers
The food at uni is pretty much pasties, chips and pizza and it’s really not cheap. So a few sarnies in an old takeaway box is plenty. Students living in halls will head back to their own kitchens anyway, so it’s a case of finding a spare table and wolfing it all down before the next class.
Never needed. Never will be needed.
Bits for working at home or in the library
One thing I’ve found completely essential is a decent laptop, and a decent mouse. I hate, hate, HATE using the trackpad to create presentations (and believe me, nursing students will get familiar with PowerPoint and Adobe). I was gifted a PenClic D2 mouse, which promises to reduce back and sounder issues – those flipping awful sharp pains in your shoulder blades – and it works like a charm. It takes some getting used to, definitely, but is worth investing in over the duration of the course.