To bring or not to bring: Being an international student in the UK

Greetings! This is Andy, second year History M.Phil Graduate Student. Like many of you I wanted to pack my house in my suitcase when I was preparing to study in the UK. For me packing for university was an experience I had already had but many years ago, back in my own country; when I did my undergraduate degree I was only two hours away from home. It was easy for my parents to bring forgotten items up to me. This time, I was traveling to a different country and on the other side of the world. I couldn’t just call home if I forgot anything.

First and foremost, make sure you have your passport, ID, CAS letter and any other information that is required by immigration neatly organized and ready to give to immigration once you get off the plane. It is not a good idea to place this in your checked baggage. You see your bags AFTER you have a nice visit with Border Control.

You know your favourite hair dryer? Shaver? Or other electrical items? Just leave them at home. Yes, you can buy a transformer or power converter, but from personal experience and a visit to a Travelodge, I do not recommend it. I blew the circuit breaker for my whole room with one I bought from Amazon. You can buy new hair dryers or shavers for a good price at Boots or Asda.

Your laptop and cell phone chargers are easy to get a different cord or transformer. There are a few stores on the high street that carry parts. Apple is there as well. So, if you are a Mac user all your bits and bobs can be taken care of by their fabulous helpers. Pens and pencils and desk supplies you can buy here for pennies, so you can leave those things at home if you want.

Clothing wise, try to pack light. Everyone says, ‘leave your sweaters at home’. They are right, you can buy them here and they take up space in the suit case. Bring an umbrella. This is England. It rains quite often.

If you are coming with your family to study, here are a few tips as a mature student with children. One piece of advice is to have your children pick their favourite toy and make a play sac for them for the plane and some things for them to have while they are here. If they have a tablet, bring it. It will save your sanity. Crayons and colouring books are also a great thing to pack as well. They even have them for adults!

Think you are going to miss your family? Pack some pictures without the frames. Wilko and Primark all have inexpensive frames and you can purchase them and place them in once you are settled.

Finally, if you have any medical conditions that need monitoring, make sure you get a current prescription for any medication and bring the necessary medical records with you. Keep these on you and give them to your new GP.

To second the above, if you wear glasses or contacts, bring them but don’t worry about packing a huge bottle of solution.  Having your prescription handy is also a good thing. If you must have solution for contacts; it needs to follow airline regulations. You can get new ones, and save space once you arrive at Boots.

These tips are the most important ones and ones I remember using. Yes, I did forget a few things, but it wasn’t detrimental. But as always, the summer holiday is dwindling down and we’re getting closer to the start of the new academic year. Happy packing and safe travels!

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