Shopping for practically anything is a breeze in London – if you know where to look, that is. Finding out which establishments have the best deals will take some trial and error, and you’ll be a seasoned consumer in no time. However, in your first week of arriving here, the last thing you should do is wander blindly in the streets of London searching for a shop that sells shampoo because it had completely slipped your mind to pack it! To avoid such a hairy catastrophe (and other similar disasters) from occurring, take a look at the following check-list:
1. Things you can’t live without
I know this sounds fairly obvious, but some items have fused so seamlessly into our lives that it doesn’t even cross our minds to pack them. Try going through your daily routine at home, whilst compiling a list of things that you used along the way – your medicines, toiletries, phone charger etc. It’s amazing how many things we take for granted!
Nobody likes going through the identification check at the customs, but it’s not exactly legal to bolt past the security gates either. To speed things up, have your passport, visa and confirmation of studies letter ready in your hand luggage. If you’re a pursuing a healthcare-related course, you would be required to take your immunity records as well to facilitate your immunisation process later in the year.
If you’re from a tropical country like me, chances are you’ve only been accustomed to the sweltering heat and torrential downpours. However, don’t fret if you’re completely lacking any winter attire. September is usually not the chilliest time of the year, so there’s still plenty of time to purchase some after you’ve settled down. Besides, your local retail outlets might not have the most appropriate winter attire for the chilly and damp London atmosphere. As a side note, pack a set of formal-wear for official ceremonies and a pair of gloves for protection against the harsh winds.
4. Books & stationery
We all know that one guy who has perused the entire semester’s textbooks before classes have even commenced, but is it really advisable to purchase them in advance? The answer to that would be a resounding “no”. During your induction, your lecturers will outline the few mandatory core books, and the libraries at King’s should provide you with sufficient further reading material. Also, there are numerous second-hand book sales in September that you should absolutely watch out for. Stationery doesn’t weigh much anyway so go ahead and buy all the pens you’ll never need.
Nothing conjures stronger feelings of nostalgia like eating your favourite food from home. However, if you’re currently stuffing your luggage with bottles of soy sauce and curry paste, you might want to think twice about that. London is a multicultural city and as such, is populated by international merchants who stock up on many imported food items. The best example to illustrate this would be Chinatown, where you’ll be able to find a slew of exotic condiments and ingredients. Kitchen appliances are fairly affordable as well, so there’s absolutely no need to pack your heavy frying pan. That being said, I wouldn’t imagine that many Asian mothers (mine included) would permit their children to leave home without a rice cooker, so just be an obedient child and do so. Soon enough, you’ll realise how versatile it actually is!
Most student accommodation will not come with blankets or duvets, so I would recommend compacting these in a vacuum bag and cramming them into your luggage. Pillows take way too much space, so don’t even attempt to squeeze one in.
Do check if your devices are compatible with UK’s plugs; if they’re not, it would be wise to purchase a few adapters. While it is extremely useful to own a personal printer, it would be unfeasible to fit one into your luggage considering its sheer bulk. Hence, I would suggest just purchasing one here.
8. Personal items
Being in a foreign land with hardly any familiar faces around you, there will inevitably be times when you’ll feel rather miserable. Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised by how much a few tokens from home can cheer you up and provide the motivation you need to keep going. Be it a birthday card or simply your stinky stuffed animal, take whatever it is that will evoke some poignant memories of home. Just remember – whatever it is you are going through will come to pass eventually, and things will get better if you persevere and march on.
With all that said, I hope you don’t get overwhelmed by the whole packing process and I bid you a safe journey to London! You don’t know it yet, but your best life chapter is just about to begin.