One of the first mistakes I made was when I packed my bags to go the US. I googled on what to carry abroad, a packing list if you must, to help me figure out what I want. Unfortunately, I made some bad financial choices. For example, this one website told me to buy office items, like pens, staplers etc., and I did. I went overboard and got $50 with Stationery items. This was two years ago. And I am still trying to use what I bought! And I bought a loooott! 😀
I will not tell you what you should or should not buy, as it depends on the individual needs. But I will tell you, whatever you want to buy, do the Need vs Want analysis and make a budget before you embark on your shopping spree.
I am going to keep the list very general and not target a specific country or region because it differs for everyone. And I urge people to comment and share their thoughts and opinions because even the smallest help matters a lot to the International student community!
- Don’t buy office related items like pens, staplers, cellophane tapes etc., You can get them here. Get a few pens and papers for emergency. The school you’re going to attend will provide freebies most of the time with office supplies being majority of them. Bring a couple of notebooks, pens, pencils, anything that you might need to use before you go for shopping in the first few weeks abroad.
- Don’t buy snacks if it is not necessary. It just fills up space and is extra weight. And also, if not packed well, it will create a mess.
- Don’t bring spices, pickles and other items. I totally understand how homesick you’ll be initially, but don’t go overboard. You can always have your family mail you a care package form your country. If you do bring pickles, make sure it is packages properly in order to avoid spillage. (Tip: Google the area where you are going to study/live in. In big cities, there is always an international food store(s), closer than you might think. So you can get spices, snacks, anything you want really, if you find the perfect store.)
- Don’t pack any pillow covers, bed sheets etc., Though it is smart, you can still find it here for a better price and comfort.
- Unless you are absolutely sure that you cannot find the same medicine abroad, don’t pack it. Get some pills for indigestion,cramps, flu, fever, headache, cold., the normal stuff if you need them for emergency. And don’t self medicate. Most of the medicines in the US are over the counter for normal health troubles.
- Carry a travel pack of toiletries that can last you for a month. Don’t go overboard with them and believe me, its not that costly in the US. There are very good products at affordable costs at stores like Walmart, Brookshires, Target, Aldi’s etc., Carry few toothbrushes, floss, tongue cleaner, Face wash, Moisturizer, after-shave, razor., whatever you can use for at least two months.
- Ladies: If you already have makeup or any beauty products with you, its fine to pack them in the check in baggage. Again, there are affordable cosmetics and products here. Unless you really want the brand which is only there in your country, then pack it. Else, there is everything you need here. Don’t waste money on stuff. Of course the price value is going to be different. So, think before you buy anything.
- Electronics: If you have a really good laptop and a mobile phone/tablet, bring a PIN converter to use it here. Again, these products might be cheaper in your country, but if you want an upgrade, there are gazillion sales happening around here all the time.
- Clothes: You can always wear what you are most comfortable in. Jeans and T-shirts are the norm for students. Get some formal Shirts and pant, or dress, whatever you are comfortable and looks professional for an interview. I wore a formal shirt and jeans for my On-Campus job interview. And I got the job.(Because of my winning personality! Just kidding! :P) There are affordable clothing stores here like Walmart, Ross, Sears.
- Always talk to your roommates regarding your contribution to the apartment. Don’t just buy utensils, rice cookers etc., just because. You can save a lot of money if you collaborate with your roommates about your utilities. For example, when I moved in with my roommates, I didn’t have to contribute anything because they already had a good setup going on. They each had 3 rice cookers, so we had to use only 1 and keep the other two in the long term storage. They also had a microwave and needed a vacuum cleaner which I contributed. Saved me a lot of money!
- I would also suggest not to buy any silverware plate till you reach the US, but if you want to bring them from home, then I say go ahead!
I would like to re-iterate that the list is based on what my friends and I have experienced as a student. If you find anything that does not pertain to you, its fine. If you find it helpful, share it with your friends and family. If you want to learn anything specific, or if you have any questions, comment on the post and I will try my best to give you a satisfying answer!
Needy Vedartham 🙂