The Essential Packing List
If you’re travelling to the UK as an international student this September with no idea how to begin packing for this important journey, we have compiled a list of essential items for you to form your own personal checklist!
Important Documents (Bring originals and hard copies just in case!)
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• Student Visa
• CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) letter, unconditional offer letter from the university, important correspondence letters with the university
• Plane Tickets
• Birth Certificate/Identification Card/Home driving licence (if you have one)
• Sponsor letters, or any evidence of funding for your tuition fees and living costs
• Medical certificates, vaccination records, relevant x-rays, TB scan, criminal record certificate
• Any insurance documents that are applicable.
• Keeping in mind that different cities in the UK can have varying weathers, do some research about the city where you will be staying and what the seasons are like. Nevertheless, it’s important to pack:
• Casual clothes (sweaters, jeans, shirts, etc.)
• Warm clothes and thermal wear. You can also buy these in the UK for a reasonable price. Winter clothing can be more expensive in tropical countries when compared to prices in the UK.
• Pyjamas, underwear, socks
• Party clothes
• Smart wear (for job interviews, etc)
• Traditional costume (may come in handy)
• Shoes for multiple occasions and weather. Again, you can source for footwear here in the UK. Shoes made here are meant to endure the local weather, and depending on where you shop, are usually affordable. Make sure you bring at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes for your first few days in the UK.
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As with travelling, it is important to keep some cash with you on hand for spending and purchasing essential items. £400 is the recommended amount, but just be warned that if you have €10 000 (or the equivalent in another country) or more in your possession whether in the form of cash, bank drafts or cheques, you will need to declare them. This applies even when you are travelling as a family.
Before deciding whether or not to bring your own electrical appliances over, the wise international student must realise that plug points in the UK (three rectangular pins) may differ from their home country. If that is the case, then bring along an adaptor for the following:
• Chargers for your electronic appliances (personal laptop, mobile phone, etc.)
• Shaver/ hairdryer
• Rice cooker (some may say this is unnecessary since you can buy these in the UK, but we personally advocate bringing over a versatile rice cooker. To bring or not to bring, that is entirely up to you)
You can definitely find cheap bedding supplies at nearly every supermarket. The risk with bringing your own bedding is that it may not fit the bed in your accommodation, never mind the limited space in your luggage.
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If you are very attached to a particular pillow/bolster/blanket, then bring it along. No point regretting not bringing it when you are miles away. How many pillows, duvets, pillowcases etc. to bring is up to your judgment.
Medicine and Skincare
Consult your doctor before departure and investigate whether the medication you need can be found here and at what cost. If you’re packing medication to bring over, have your doctor write a letter in case you are questioned about the drugs in your luggage.
The beauty standards here in the UK differ vastly from many Asian countries. This is reflected in the kind of products sold here. Some haircare and skincare products are not really suitable for Asian skin. Again, do some research and if you feel it would be better to bring your own beauty supplies, then do what’s best for you!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the UK is very strict when it comes to bringing food over from countries not in the EU/ EEA. Check the guidelines set by the UK government and then decide.
I will say from personal experience that having some instant food around was helpful during the first day. A long flight can leave one jetlagged and without the energy to go food shopping.
There are plenty of Asian grocery stores in the UK so food from back home is relatively easy to find. But if you are in the UK, then it’s definitely worth checking out other cuisines. You can easily find utensils and kitchenware here, so don’t bring too many things over.
It will take a lot of time and thought before you are done packing. Just weigh the pros and cons before it’s too late to change anything. Get advice from friends and family who have had similar experiences.
The shops here in the UK have almost everything you may ever need, so don’t worry about not bringing enough stuff. Sometimes less is more.
Bring mementos of your home and family. It will help you settle in to your new place if it reminds you of home. And don’t forget to call your family members when you have arrived!
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