An International Student of Literature in England.
Freshers, I concocted this amazing article (with photographs!!) for you!
When I arrived at UEA, I didn’t have any kitchenware. Well actually, I did have one knife and a potato peeler I liked, an a small box of biscuits. I wish I could have brought stuff back from home like most English students but I wasn’t going to take plates and pans on the plane with me! They’d have thought I was mental at the airport. So one of the very first things I needed to take care of on my first day was buying pots and pans.
Fortunately, UEA organises a Pots and Pans sale for freshers and international students! I’m so grateful for that. I heard about it on Facebook a few days before I arrived and it saved me. It’s in the Union House and remains open until the week lectures start. All the stuff they sell is second-hand (stuff left by students in halls) and can be quite dirty or sticky but it’s SO cheap. I paid £10 for pretty much everything I needed, which is kinda crazy. My frying pan isn’t great at all, everything sticks to it but I didn’t want to invest in amazing stuff. If you’re only staying in England for a semester, a year, or even three years, this is the perfect opportunity.
I only bought what I thought was absolutely essential and I still think it’s a pretty good list. If you don’t really know where to start, here’s what I got: two plates, two forks, two knives, three spoons (of different sizes), a mug, two bowls, a chopping board (very important to chop vegetables), a saucepan with a lid (it saves energy and cooks faster), a frying pan, a colander (essential for pasta — unless you get lazy like me and use your lid to drain the water off your saucepan and lose some pasta or noodles on the way). I also got a wooden spatula and was given a wooden spoon for free in the LCR at some point. And as I said, I already had a very sharp knife for vegetables and a peeler! Oh and I nearly forgot the tin opener: my first one never worked and broke, so I got a much better one in the campus shop.
To me, these are the things you’ll really really need! But after a few weeks I realised I’d forgotten other essential — or at least very useful — things! I didn’t have a cheese grater and ended up borrowing my flatmates’ all year. It’s the kind of thing you can easily share with others but it’s cool to have your own. If you like garlic, a garlic crusher can sometimes be useful. You’ll also need… Tupperware!
Later on, I realised I needed something to bake stuff in the oven so I got a small oven dish from Poundland that’s also perfect for cakes. Talking about cakes and mixtures, you might want to get a big bowl, a measuring jug, a whisk and a ladle. You can get all this in Poundland if you don’t want to spend too much. However, if you’re going to cook a lot and like it, I suggest that you get a brand new frying pan at some point because it makes cooking less annoying!
I spent the whole year using my kitchen towels and burning my hands to get stuff out of the oven so perhaps you should get proper oven gloves. Just a suggestion… But once again, it depends on your cooking habits and you don’t need to have absolutely everything from day 1. I didn’t buy a glass and ended up using an empty Nutella jar. I was the ultimate poor student haha. I just like recycling to be honest! 😛
In our flat, we had a kettle but it was very disgusting inside. Kettles are vital for tea. Two of my flatmates had brought their own so we all used theirs but you can get cheap kettles pretty anywhere. UEA doesn’t provide toasters so we bought one for the enormous sum of £8 and then we all went bankrupt.
I hope this helped! Don’t stress too much about all these things: just get what you believe is essential at first. However, in my experience, having all these things encouraged me to cook properly every day and to try different meals, so remember that it’s important to have enough kitchen utensils! You can always go back to the Pots and Pans Sale (which I highly recommend) until the end of September, or buy more kitchenware in supermarkets or even online.