First of all, this country is not really all that hyped up to be. Please get that into your head. Britain is a fine country no doubt, but it rains 80% of the time, or looks like it'll rain and don't let the sunny day fool you. Rain will always be lurking around the next cloud that passes by.
Right! Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business *cue Captain Shang singing to his recruits in all his topless glory*
- Honestly, you don't really need to pack half your wardrobe into two suitcases. Chances are you won't wear half of what you've packed with you. Take it from me, because that's what I did in my first year here and ended up bringing most of them back home again during the Summer.
- Instead, pack what you need such as underwear, socks, some t-shirts, a couple pairs of jeans, a hoodie or two. You could bring a jumper/sweater or two as they are pretty much the staple clothing article here, but don't over pack. Seriously. And if you'll be staying in halls, bring some formal wear. There will be formal dinners hosted by your hall a few times in a semester. Ladies, that means dresses (or pants if you're feeling like it) and guys, at least proper slacks and a dinner jacket. Oh, and a tie or bow tie.
- My advice on packing clothes is, if you think you'll only PROBABLY wear them, or packing them in JUST IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES, don't bring it. You won't wear it.
- One other thing: thermals. I'd suggest not getting those with fleece on the underside as you could probably develop a heat rash when it gets too warm indoors- especially when you wear them under your jeans. Instead, invest in Uniqlo's heattech wear. My aunt got me a heat tech top during winter and it is amazing. It's thin, but the material stays so close to your skin that it traps the heat there. Plus it's odorless and absorbs your sweat. Besides, what are you gonna do with thick thermals when you return to your home country? (Assuming that it's only one season all year round, like Malaysia, Singapore, etc.
- You will also learn that tights are the most comfortable thing to wear here. And everyone here (everyone meaning female) wears them.
- Everything else you can buy them here. Primark will be your number 1 go to for cheap but decent clothes, followed by the ever popular HnM, and New Look and whatnot (oh and ASOS but that's online). Charity shops are also in abundance, for those of you who love thrift shopping. Unless if you're really the kind that does not shop at all, you WILL end up shopping. So throw the thought of 'bringing more so I won't have to buy any' out your mind palace window because that's not gonna happen.
- Winter jackets, coats, trench coats, etc. can be bought here. I honestly do recommend doing that because unless you've experienced UK weather, you'll probably buy those that are too thick or too thin.
- Don't worry too much about buying a trendy trench coat to be one with the Britons. (Actually trench coats will be too thin for winter and will only be suitable for Autumn and Spring, unless if you've got a really warm body and possess the cold-resistant trait- oh wait, that's the Sims.)
- Hah. Shoes. Seriously, if you can, bring what you'll be wearing 80% of the time (sneakers/trainers), FLIP FLOPS for the toilet because it's so difficult to find any here unless it's Summer, a pair of proper shoes such as heels or dress shoes. THAT'S IT. You'd want to leave as much space as possible for other things you might need.
- If you want to fulfill your dream of wearing boots during the Winter months, buy them here. And if possible buy them during the Boxing Day sale or some other major National holiday which usually involves shopping.
- For muslims, please be aware of the type of leather used for leather boots as some may use pig skin. Ask the shop assistant if possible to clarify.
- I'd recommend investing your money on ONE good pair of high quality boots from brands such as Clarks. I bought mine during Boxing Day and I have never been more satisfied in my life (even though it was £70 and my heart was partially crushed).
- Alternatively, you can look around the various shoe shops in the city that you're studying and living in and browse. Do take note of the prices and compare. You'd want the best bargain because as a student, you will always be broke.
- Additionally, shoe sizes may be slightly different from where you're from. For example, my shoe size is 5-5 1/2 in Malaysia but I'm a size 3-4 here in the UK.
Food + Other Stuff
- For those of us who love our home food too much, you may be tempted to pack a whole suitcase of it (like me). I guess you could do that.. but seriously, don't pack stuff like garlic and ginger. Don't laugh, I know some who have done that. Unless if it's something that you definitely cannot find here or is extremely rare, then by all means bring it with you. For me, I packed packs of instant Milo and my favourite brand of instant noodles, in several different flavours. (Because British instant noodles suck. Get the Nissin ones. They're delicious and filling)
- If you'll be staying in a house, feel free to bring packs of roux from your home country, even though chances are you may be able to find them in oriental shops here. Or maybe your grandma's special sauce or something.
- You could bring utensils to use for yourself, personally I don't really like sharing mine.
- You could also bring with you (or buy one here) an induction cooker and a metal bowl for those desperate nights in need of some instant noodles in your hall. Hall pantries are usually not equipped with stoves because they already provide you food.
- For contact lens wearers, I was advised to bring lens solution from home, which I did. I can't remember how much it costs here, maybe £10 or less? You do the math.
- Also remember to bring some medication with you and traditional ointments (because they are awesome!) because going to see a doctor here when you're sick is a major pain in the butt. You'd most likely not get past the nurse before she prescribes antibiotics and shoos you away like a fly. Unless of course if you're seriously ill and on the verge of death. I'm kidding. But things like fever packs are a life saver.
- If you're feeling pensive about buying stuff, especially stationary, then bring some from home, such as pens and paper. They're more expensive if you compare converted prices. But you'll learn to ignore it over time.
- Try to get your grubby hands on free pens from your freshers' fair, or any fair. They work really well and you won't have to buy any!
- Try to get a really good umbrella, the kind with extra fastenings(?) That make sure your spikes don't bend out of shape. I got mine from home and has lasted through all types of rain and wind that I've encountered so far. You could get one here, but I find them rather expenisive (£10 for one?!) And they usually don't last through 2 storms or so. Be warned.
What to expect
Weather Upon Arrival
Weather during Winter
Weather in General
Also, if possible, invest in a Railcard. You'll get discounts when travelling by train, or if you're a bus person, there should be a National Express card, but if I'm right, most students get the railcard. That is of course, you do not intend to travel around at all when in the UK. It's not really that expensive to get one, and it would be a good investment.
BEFORE leaving for the UK, do take note to buy either a train or bus ticket to your city of study (if it's in another city away from the airport) at least a few weeks in advance because buying a ticket on the spot is hella expensive (from my own experience). Make sure that you have some time between immigration and customs processing and the time of departure because you wouldn't want to burn your ticket on your first day in the UK. Unless of course, you've booked a spot on your university airport pickup, then you're good to go.