Here is a quick list of things you will definitely need on campus. The sections are divided into multiple categories. Unless there’s an “OR” or “/,” when there are two things mentioned, you’ll need both. Please keep in mind that most items for daily use can be purchased on campus, so travel light! The marts on campus are extremely well-equipped for your needs, so do not clean out a supermarket shelf while packing at home.
If you’re buying luggage bags now and don’t already have some, you can use this section. You might be travelling multiple times a year, by train/plane/cab, not just back home, but also to your internships/foreign trips. So it’s better to buy one good set of bags to last 4–5 years, as a one-time investment.
- Hard luggage large check-in bag: Most durable bags, can handle all the train/plane/cab travel you will do. Buy the 76′ to 78′ version- that’s the maximum allowed in planes as check-in luggage. Even if you don’t plan to travel by air now, it also should be lightweight. [e.g., American Tourister, VIP] Don’t buy it online, it is advisable to buy in stores, test the durability, check weight, etc.
- Backpack cum trolley bag (optional): Buy in the cabin bag dimensions, even if you don’t plan to travel by air now. I take mine on every long/short trip, which can be used for one-day trips, one-week trips, and supplementary to the large bag on longer trips. But its real uses are endless.
- Backpack: A small one-compartment bag to take to classes. You don’t need to bring books to classes, and not many notebooks either.
- Separate laptop backpack: you can also use the laptop backpack as a college bag, although it is not recommended unless you’re taking your laptop to classes every day. You can use the small bag for classes and the laptop bag for going to the library during exams.
- The following will be necessary: Birth certificate, 12th standard grade card, offer letter and Aadhaar. Apart from these, remember to bring everything you have been asked for by the administration.
- Always carry the originals in one folder, photocopies in another folder and one set of attested or “true copy” stamped photocopies in a third folder, and store them in separate places. Keep the originals in the bag closest to your body, e.g., laptop backpack when traveling. Once you are registered, you won’t need the originals unless you’re applying for a passport, PAN card, etc.
- Always keep your Institute ID card with you. You never know when you will need it. If someone asks for an ID, always show your Institute ID card.
All of the following are available inside the campus at Prime Mart and other shops. However, it’s better to buy the first lot at home; it might get hectic in the initial days of return.
- Nail cutter
- Shaving kit, scissors
- Handwash, sanitizer
- Sanitary napkins
- Have 7-8 masks- N95, surgical mask, cloth mask, etc.
- Shampoo, conditioner, hair oil: You’ll need all three because most people on campus have tremendous hair loss.
- Body soap OR wash OR gel
- Moisturiser OR body lotion
- Vaseline OR lip balm
- Face wipes: Chennai summers are very hot
- Deodorant and Perfume: Deodorant for exercise, sweat-inducing activities, and when you don’t bathe. Not taking a bath sometimes is okay, but not masking your smell is not. Spare thy neighbor! Perfume for your clothes, when you shower and want to feel fresh, and for fancy days.
- Odomos: there may be mosquitoes on campus during spring
- All out/Good night plugin for your room
- Laundry: Both bar and detergent powder/liquid. Buy one that has a measuring cup [e.g. Surf Excel bar, Surf Excel Matic detergent powder/liquid]. (There are economical laundry services outside campus that are often quite efficient and helpful.)
- Cleaning spectacles: Liquid and cloth/cleaning tool. It’s very sweaty and oily in Chennai during summers.
- Cleaning laptop/mobile screens: liquid and cloth, because life is simpler when you have cleaning liquids for everything.
- Set of toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Comb, hairbrush
- Optional sanitary items: Mouthwash, Floss, tongue cleaner, loofah, body/face scrub
- Soap case
- Small pouch in which you can put toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, and face wash: A lot of us brush our teeth on our way to the morning lecture/mess and some brush in the washrooms of the lecture hall complex. Also, easier for train/plane travel.
- Room freshener
- Small mirror (Optional because all bathrooms and most rooms have mirrors)
Medicine kit/First aid box
We have a hospital accessible 24*7, with an ambulance service and pharmacy. However, here are some things you could keep on you, just in case.
- Bandaids: Buy ten at least. There are minor cycle accidents every day.
- Paracetamol: Paracip for fever
- Gelusil tablets for acidity
- Crocin Pain relief
- Pain relief spray [e.g.: Volini]
- Antiallergic medicine: Cetirizine (very cheap but sleep-inducing for some), Allegra (not sleep-inducing, very effective but expensive). You never know what you’re allergic to.
- ORS for low BP, fainting, when you feel weird, diarrhea.
- Soframycin for applying to cuts, scratches
- Savlon to clean wounds (doesn’t hurt as much as Dettol)
Never self-prescribe antibiotics or special drugs.
- Casio Fx991ES plus Calculator: Don’t buy second-hand. You’ll need one in all branches (except HS, of course), in almost all courses, in all lectures in the first and second year, in all exams. What if it stops working in the middle of a test? So, don’t compromise on quality.
- Laptop + charger: If you don’t have one, it’s okay. You don’t need one if you have a smartphone that can open PDFs. Buy one after coming to Chennai, say in your second year by consulting the internet and friends.
- Power bank: Can order online.
- Study lamp for when you study until late at night/don’t sleep at all.
- Extension cord (optional)
- Iron and kettle: You will find them in your hostels
- Optional but very helpful: Kindle. Your eyes can get strained due to the overuse of laptops and mobile screens. But since Kindle uses e-ink instead of an LCD screen, you won’t experience a strain on your eyes or headaches. You can transfer books and PDFs to it and study from a Kindle.
Don’t bring high voltage appliances, such as air coolers or hair straighteners. They’re not allowed.
Bring a decent number so that you can manage missing laundry on one weekend. There is no dress code on campus.
- Raincoat and umbrella: It rains for a few months in Chennai. You’ll have to cycle to class during the rain.
- Casual: Shirts, T-shirts, tops, kurtas, cotton leggings, skirts. Stick to light and airy clothes. Buy clothes with pockets large enough for your mobile phone and cycle keys!
- Formal: 1 set of one white shirt, and black bottoms. I don’t think it’s needed in the first year, although it’s good to have one set. You don’t need a blazer in the first year.
- Shorts: IITM summers are hot and humid + Global warming. Your jeans will stick to your legs.
- Pullovers, sweatshirts, hoodies: November-February nights will be windy and chilly.
- Tracks/gym clothes: running shorts, track pants, cotton round neck tees OR sweatshirts. We have grounds, various sports courts, stadiums and gym too! Also, exercise/playing a sport is a must for everyone. Even if you’re healthy. Even if you think you don’t have time.
- PJs: cotton pyjamas, comfortable cotton tees, night suit.
- Swimwear: we have a huge swimming pool!
- Ethnic wear for Garba Night, Diwali and Ethnic day.
- Lab coat: required for the first-year chemistry lab: if you have one from school, bring it, otherwise you can buy it here.
- Mattress cover: Even though you put on bedsheets, use a mattress cover, because you can’t wash mattresses.
- Double bed bedsheets (2 sets, with pillow covers): Buy double bed bedsheets, so you can tie them behind your bed, and you don’t have to tuck them in every day. You will need 2 sets because you should change and wash bed sheets every 2 weeks. Also, with matching pillow covers, you’ll appreciate the presence of a well-made bed when you have crazy sleeping hours. It makes you feel closer to home too!
- Mattress: buy in Prime Mart/order online. Box-shaped, foam on top, medium-hard are the best (Nilkamal, Kurlon). Also, a tip: a mattress has a top and bottom side. The top should face you; it’s the softer side, meant for sleeping on. One of my friends was sleeping on the wrong side of the mattress for three years!
- Pillow: buy in Prime Mart.
- Hand towels for wiping hands. Don’t wipe them on your clothes. Ewww!
- Towels: Two for drying your body, one for your hair.
- Microfiber cloth: one for spectacles, one for mobile/laptop screens.
- Cleaning cloth: one for tables, cupboards, and semi-dirty room stuff, one for cleaning dusty/dirty stuff, one for shoes, one for when you spill something on the floor, one extra because who knows what dirt the future has for you?
Accessories and Miscellaneous
- Spare spectacles: There is no spectacle repair shop inside the campus, so it’s better to have a spare.
- Wrist-watch for exams, and to be on time everywhere.
- Safety pins: Can be bought in Prime Mart.
- Sewing kit: (some thread rolls, buttons, hooks, safety pins, and needles) You can learn sewing from Youtube (I did that) when some clothes get torn or your button falls off, but you still want to/have to wear that piece of clothing.
- Earrings, bracelets, pendants, and whatever else you want.
- Clips and pins of all kinds. You get a variety in Chennai.
- Badminton racquet OR whatever sport you like. Buy it online or from decathlon, which is 15 min away from campus.
- Water bottle and flask: Can be bought in Prime Mart.
- Keychain: It’s weird how difficult it is to find a normal keychain in Prime Mart.
- Lock and key: Can be bought in Prime Mart. I highly recommend giving the spare keys to your friends.
- One set of cutlery: Plate, spoon, fork, knife (blunt for sandwiches, sharp for fruits and carrots), mug and glass for having food in the room. Also, some hostels don’t give mugs for milk. You can buy it in Prime Mart, but if you have a favorite plate or spoon at home, get it.
You don’t get good footwear on campus. It is better to order them online or buy them from phoenix.
- Floaters/waterproof sandals for rain.
- Sports shoes: You will definitely need them for NSO (some sports require non-marking shoes, so don’t rush into buying all-use running shoes). They will be of great use otherwise as well.
- Slippers for the room.
- Slippers for washrooms. Don’t wear your room slippers to the washroom, it’s not very clean, especially if you’re living in a boys’ hostel.
- Covered shoes for labs. You won’t be allowed otherwise.
Don’t bring anything from home. Prime Mart is an awesome shop, it has everything you will need.
You won’t be short of this on campus. However, considering that you will be quarantining first, bring a small stash from home to avoid getting hangry.
Buy these items inside the campus or from nearby places. Some of these items may have already been listed above.
- SIM card: Jio’s network has been the best inside the IITM campus, I ported from Vodafone to Jio for that reason.
- Cycle: MUST. It’s easy to learn cycling, a lot of people do that, but you are at a MAJOR disadvantage if you don’t have a cycle. You won’t have time to learn cycling in later years. There are buses but, usually, they are too crowded and easy to miss. Usually, the institute has a bicycle sale inside the campus at the time the freshies are admitted. Whether this will be the case in December is unknown to us. Regardless, there are cycle shops right outside campus near Phoenix. If you want to buy a second-hand cycle, you may want to check out the “Buy&sell iitm” FaceBook page.
- Bank Account: SBI IITM
- Mattress and pillow (described above)
- Bucket, mug, and soap cases
- Hangers, clotheslines, clothespins, laundry basket
- Stationery, dustbin, dustbin covers
- Laxman Rekha Ant repellent chalk (optional)
- LAN cable (for connecting your laptop to IITM’s internet)
Other Random Tips
- Be minimal. Having everything you could possibly want can quickly become a pain when you have to vacate your room or fight an ant infestation.
- Many hostels have a fridge, microwave, kettle, iron, and hair dryer (in the girls’ hostels) for common use.
- Remember you will be on campus for a while, so you will have enough opportunities to buy/order online anything you didn’t realize you would need.
- All shops and eateries in campus take digital payments, it is recommended to set up UPI instead of depending on cash and risking an appearance on Lost and Found.
- Each bathroom has one geyser/heating rod where you can fill hot water before entering the bath. The stalls have a tap and a shower nozzle.
And one more thing: welcome to insti.