Lugging three 30-inch suitcases around the London Tube was a real treat for me. Especially since my tiny Asian mother panting and sweating at that point (in the fall), had warned me on multiple occasions not to overpack. Clearly, I listened. Fortunately, not everyone in London is indifferent to the suffering of individuals, and we managed to get help. Correction, my MOTHER got help (a little too much in the eyes if you know what I mean). Thus, this is a list to prepare you on what to pack for the next 3-4 years in the new and forsaken land! (I’M KIDDING)
- Passport and at least one photocopy of it (as well as ID let’s not be silly here)
- Other forms of identification. E.g. driver’s license (if you have one)
- Official university correspondence, including a copy of admission letter
I’m assuming many if not most international students coming to the UK carry a Tier 4 government visa. For my case, it was important that I brought my university acceptance letter for verification at the airport counter.
- Official letters pertaining to application and confirmation of visa
- Bank account details and latest bank correspondence
- Details of accommodation and contract
ELECTRONICS (it’s the 21st century)
- Laptop/ desktop computer
- Mobile phone and charger
Even though where I’m from (Malaysia) has the same electrical socket, I brought one anyway. Thankfully I did as I had visited my sister in the States and I could charge all my electronics without having to worry about finding one there.
- USB memory stick (backing up assignments but there’s also Google Drive. Whatever floats your boat ☺)
These are absolutely imperative for pretty much anyone coming to university. I had never used my Beats so much until I came to uni. Definitely invest on a good pair if you haven’t already!
- Post-it notes
Now here is where I was served a slice of humble pie. Some might say I used to be, a ‘collector’ of stationery if you will. I packed possibly 3 years’ worth of stationery. They were cute, Instagram worthy Japanese sticky notes, page tabs, stickers, as well as all of my brush pens (and I mean all 70 of them). Sure, you can bring SOME at first but don’t worry about finishing them. There’s a high chance you’ll end up at Rootes grocery store (the one at campus) buying 1-2 pounds worth of inexpensive pens and sticky notes a few weeks in.
- A diary or planner
One of the more consistent things in my life (rare), is that I journal. As you write your thoughts in a dairy or lists of things to do in a planner, it’s cathartic not only in the completion of tasks but in that you carry a level of certainty of what lies ahead. I never properly used a planner until I came to uni, and you can either bring one you really like from home OR you could get a simple one from WHSmith or Ryman at the city center. If you want a REALLY NICE one, I’d recommend Paperchase! (Leamington Spa)
Let’s not forget the notebooks. NOTEBOOKS. Those were the killers. Yes, you are allowed to bring a cute notebook or two but for the love of God, no more. I convinced myself that I would use my extremely aesthetic, pretty ones at uni. I thought ‘Fresh start, fresh books.’ That didn’t happen. I don’t think I’ve properly written lecture notes on any of my pretty notebooks and I regret it today. I had to get extra boxes when I moved out just for them alone!
What I didn’t regret, however, was bringing my better quality black and blue pens. I made sure to bring my MUJI pens because they’re arguably the best. When you submit an assignment and it is written, oddly enough you feel more secure once you’ve written with proper pens (especially if you know your paper is mediocre). However, I did use cheap black and blue ones that I get from Rootes or Tesco when I make drafts, jotting down dumb ideas my professors would probably slap a big red ‘FAIL’ on. Both types are recommended if you’re a stationery junkie like me!
Do ensure your calculator can be used for the syllabus.
- A backpack for university
My sister bought me this bright coloured KANKEN backpack for uni and I’ve not used it once. I did however, use my handy black backpack which braved through the unpleasant and precarious weather in England. Practicality is key.
Well, there’s no point crying over spilt milk now is there. I’ve learned my lesson HARD here (harder than the whole stationery incident). I’m someone who loves clothes. I’ve always enjoyed dressing up from different eras and I pretty much deceived myself into thinking I was walking for a fashion show when I was packing. It was a much-needed arm workout trying my absolute best to stuff as many clothes in! You don’t need more than 1 winter jacket. You especially don’t need 5 of them. Not to mention I brought 10 various outerwear to style with my outfits. Let’s be real, many of us aren’t like that. While there was immense regret over bringing a million jumpers and trousers and hats and gloves and everything else, I loved dressing up at times when I felt low as it gave me confidence. In the end, it depends on the type of person you are.
There are plenty of stores available at Coventry City Centre such as Primark (doesn’t get more British than this. Yikes), Topshop, etc. However, if you’re the more ‘conscious’ consumer, you can always check out second-hand shops such as Myton Hospices. For me, I used the website DEPOP A LOT. Like I mean A LOT.
NOTE: For outerwear, do bring a fall/spring jacket as it does get hot (for England) by the end of March. E.g. a denim jacket.
- Casual clothes (t-shirts, jumpers, trousers)
- Underwear (pants, socks, bras)
- Dressing gown and slippers
- Winter coat and jacket
- Gloves, hat and scarf
- Shoes (trainers, smart shoes, casual shoes)
- Formal outfit (for interviews and competitions)
- Fancy dress/ suit (for parties where young adults pretend to know what they’re doing)
KITCHENWARE/ HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Making several trips to IKEA at the city centre was more of an adventure than a chore to me. I would like to preface an important thing however:
- BRING AT LEAST 1 SET OF CUTLERY FROM HOME (tablespoons, forks, etc.). I had no proper cutlery for the first few weeks and resorted to using teaspoons to eat my meals (yeah, that was depressing). It was all gone before I could get my hands on them and I was certainly not paying more for 10 pairs of forks and spoons. IKEA has a policy that only an adult aged 21 or over can purchase their knives. Thankfully, my mother was there to help me. There are other stores such as Argos, TJ Hughes, etc to buy them.
NOTES: I did not bring any of the practical stuff listed below to the UK at all, and I didn’t regret it too much (besides the cutlery). The prices are relatively low and you can check out a few that I mentioned earlier to see which ones are the best value for you.
- Crockery (plates, bowls and mugs – enough for yourself and not for your flatmates to steal from you)
- Other utensils (e.g. chopping board and sharp knife, wooden spoon, spatula, cheese grater, potato masher, colander, bottle opener, tin opener)
- Saucepan and frying pan
- Scissors (do not attempt to double up as toenail clippers)
- Tupperware container(s). Try to get glass ones (if you’re not clumsy) as they’re easier to clean.
- Washing up liquid and sponge
- Snacks (I brought my lovely childhood snacks. E.g. marshmallow gummies with the jelly inside, and some sambal from home. There is an Asian supermarket which does carry a lot of the same things and it is called Seoul Plaza at Cannon Park)
- Duvet, pillows, blankets.
- Laundry bin
- Clothes hangers
- Alarm clock (as a backup for the day when you inevitably drop your phone down the toilet)
- Desk lamp
Note: Warwick Uni Residences will provide students with standard single-size beds in their first year. I did purchase a thinner mattress from IKEA and placed it on top of the current one. That way I can enjoy the extra cushion and on special occasions, set it out on the floor when my friends come to a sleepover.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Washbag (especially useful if you’re sharing a bathroom which is a short walk away from your bedroom)
- Shampoo and conditioner; shower gel
- Razor/ shaving foam
- Towel (x2) (please do not use the same towel for two weeks. Hygiene!)
- Hairbrush; hairdryer (I forgot to bring mine from home and I got an earful from my mother)
- Tampons/sanitary towels
- Any personal medications and prescriptions (e.g. flu medication. I just brought VICKS to be fair (lifesaver)
- Details of current GP and doctor’s surgery
- Glasses and prescription
- Note: Please do register with the local GP early on. It will save you endlessly waiting at the drop-in centre filling out forms when you’re ill and CRANKY.
RANDOM SENTIMENTAL STUFF
I brought some Polaroids of people (whom I actually care about), as well as my DSLR and disposables. My disposables were really handy especially since they’re light and I used it to capture my favorite moments with friends and family! As for my favorite reads, I brought none of them as I no longer had space in my suitcases and, frankly I just did not have the TIME.
Whatever type of person you are, stick to the basics first. Packing is essentially a personalised journey, and it is dependent on your priorities; of what makes you the happiest. You just need to find that sweet spot between necessity and personality!