If you or an older sibling are heading off to university soon, they’re going to need to buy everything from a duvet to face wash; oh, and obviously a lot of books. But it can be overwhelming enough just thinking of such a big life change without wondering where the best places to stock up are. Don’t worry: we’ve rounded up the experience of our internationally-educated team to point you in the right direction.
This advice is a little early, given that the school year starts in January. But best to be prepared!
The Warehouse is great for “stuff” - you can stock up on cheap sweatshirts and T-shirts (you’ll need a lot to layer up, the weather in NZ can be a little unpredictable), but also furniture and household appliances.
Head to Warehouse Stationery for the obvious - printers, software, and pens and pencils (although if you like cutesy stuff, bring it with you from Hong Kong).
Again, the new school year is months away, but forewarned is forearmed, and all that.
KMart, Target and Big W are three big value, stock-everything chains, so find the one nearest your campus, and ask someone to drive you so you can pick up everything from stationery and socks to kitchenware, laptop cases and prints to decorate your walls.
Despite it being an American chain, Wal-Marts are everywhere in Canada. It’s the kind of place where you could afford to buy a year’s supply of underwear, to minimise your trips to the campus laundromat.
Target. Target has everything and they have massive discounts at the start of every school year. There’s always a Target in your college town. You can get EVERYTHING there.
DON’T buy from the campus store. Ever! Unless you’re buying a sweatshirt with your uni logo on it.
Don’t even buy your textbooks there. It’s far better to buy second-hand books if you can – there are loads of websites, and even Amazon.com has a section for them. Save your (parents’) money – you’re just going to resell them at the end of the semester anyway.
Speaking of Amazon, it’s the place to find anything you bizarrely can’t find at Target, and delivery is often free.
A little insider secret: a lot of the time at the end of each semester, dorms will have yard sales of the stuff students don’t want anymore, or don’t want to keep if they’re moving out. It’s a great way to score decorations or random appliances (or a US$20 three-seater leather sofa).
John Lewis is a department store that sells everything you could ever need, from notepads and plates to bedding and curtains.
Although most people think of it as being quite expensive, it has a value range for most of their products which is really reasonable (think HK$100 for a duvet and HK$10 for a mug), and the quality of their products is much better than most places, so they’ll last much longer. Most major towns have a branch, and they are usually centrally located, unlike those pesky Ikea branches which are often in the middle of nowhere. Plus, they offer free delivery, so you don’t need to stress about how you’ll get everything home!
If you’re strangely in a city or county that doesn’t have a John Lewis, head to supermarkets Asda or Sainsbury’s, which both stock low-cost bedding, stationery, kitchenware – and best of all, food!
Heading north of the border? Make sure to stock up on skin care (especially from foreign brands) before you leave. Those rumours about the safety of skin care brands on the mainland aren’t without foundation.
Bring bedding from home, as you’ll need it on the first night, and then get ready for Taobao. You can buy, almost literally, everything. Try to find shops in your province, though, to minimise delivery costs.
Most campuses have little bookstores nearby. They might look a bit rundown, but you can always find academic books at a good price. Speaking of books, JD.com, amazon.cn and dangdang.com all offer free delivery. In a nutshell: e-commerce is your friend.
Wherever you’re headed to university, good luck!