Stephanie Irwin, our Deputy Editor, recommends what you should have in your suitcase before university begins. 

No matter how many “What to pack for university” articles you read, nothing will truly prepare you for St Andrews. At a university known for our charity fashion shows and sharply dressed students, packing one’s closet into a suitcase can seem daunting. Since packing light is recommended, below are the top 8 things you need to survive in style — and one bonus to pick up in town.

1. A Sturdy Suitcase

Unlike most university students, those at St Andrews tend to travel. A lot. If you’re lucky enough to afford weekends away (or are from far away), investing in a high quality suitcase is 100% worth it. After all, there is nothing worse than schlepping through an airport with a single-wheeled suitcase. If you go fancy enough, some suitcases even have internal storage for suits or gowns.

2. 2-3 Versatile Dresses or Suits

Given the large array of black tie events in St Andrews, it is better to invest in 2-3 versatile dresses that can be styled to look different, rather than owning an array of cheap dresses you’ll never wear again (or that will fall apart during their single use). Although white is not the best colour to purchase, if you’re dead set, be sure to take it to Johnston’s Dry Cleaner the next morning. They won’t judge.

3. Previously worn dress shoes

If you’re not the type to sport dress shoes on the regular, it’s better to start now than on a night out. Girls should note that heels aren’t commonly seen at events, and those that do opt for heels choose ones with a relatively even platform and heel (the smaller the platform, the more difficult a heel will be to walk in). After traversing through dirt, mud and water (Kinkell Byre is the worst for this), brand new shoes are not ideal.

4. Water Resistant backpack

Upon arriving in St Andrews, I was foolish enough to buy a cheap, canvas backpack. Within the first few weeks of class, the rain leaked through my bag, destroying all of my notes. Nowadays I use a waterproof backpack — and my grades are better for it.

5. Sturdy rubber sole trainers (that aren’t white)

Unless you religiously use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on your white shoes, white shoes will become destroyed in St Andrews. Instead, I prefer to wear flat forms, since they elevate feet higher above the wet ground, preventing water from leaking into the shoe. Water proof spray is also your friend.

6. 1 (ideally warm) sartorial item from your homeland

As a Canadian, I purchased an obnoxious beaver sweater before coming to St Andrews. Not only did it curb homesickness, but it also helped curb the residence hall chill.

7. Wellington Boots

Everyone on campus owns Hunter Wellington Boots. If you’re a hipster who is disgruntled by this idea, generic brands in a simple colour do the job for short walks around town.

8. 1 waterproof jacket

For the days that it rains so hard you can barely see, a waterproof jacket is a godsend. Although all waterproof jackets come at a high price, they are a necessary evil. A jacket is considered waterproof (instead of water resistant) if the seams are sealed. If the seams are not sealed, water seeping through is a definite possibility. This is important to note, since a jacket can have waterproof fabric, but not have sealed seams. For a waterproof jacket that works wonders, Arcteryx is recommended.

Honourable Mention: the bubble umbrella 

Although they are a pain to travel with, be sure to purchase a bubble umbrella upon arrival in St Andrews. In even the lightest rain, a regular umbrella will become upturned in the St Andrews wind (even if its Burberry or Fulton). For day-to-day life, waterproof spray and accepting the Scottish rain are your best options.


Stephanie Irwin