So, you’ve applied to university, received your offer letter, and gotten the grades you need. Everything’s set in stone for you to finally make that trip to study abroad for the first time. Now comes the hard part: sorting out your pre-arrival checklist.
What exactly is a pre-arrival checklist, though? Generally speaking, these are packing tips for your absolute essentials to enter a country as an international student. These mostly include specific documents and identification, but also other recent requirements, such as your COVID-19 vaccination passport.
Of course, there are other things to consider in your packing list: the type of clothes you’d need, electronics you can’t live without, bags or carriers necessary for traversing university. Then there are all the things that are objectively unnecessary but might hold personal value to you, like gifts and books.
Still, you have to consider the limited luggage space you’ll be granted on aircrafts. Most airlines will grant you 30kg, but some may place a limit of 23 to 25kg. This means that you’ll have to be extremely selective about what you want to bring with you.
Here’s a list of packing tips every international student should know when flying for the first time.
Packing tips for international students
Your absolute essentials
Before you settle down in your new life as an international student, you’ll first need to pass border security. Here, you’ll be required to present a number of documents that you absolutely cannot forget to bring with you on your flight, or risk being denied entry into the country.
For every student, this will include:
- Your passport
- Your student visa
- Your university acceptance letter
- Your term-time address
- Any required COVID-19 tests or vaccination cards
- Any required medical letters or tests
These are the very basics of what you’ll need to bring with you. However, you may also be asked to present other documents, such as:
- Proof of your tuition fee or rental payment
- Bank statements
- Other identification, such as your national ID, drivers licence, or birth certificate
- Travel or health insurance
- Academic transcripts or qualifications
Outside of border control, you may be asked to show these and certain other documents to your university upon registration. Either way, always make sure to check in advance and leave plenty of time to gather everything you’d need before flying.
Your in-flight essentials
Travelling overseas is always an experience you’ll have to brace yourself for. For international students — especially those travelling long distances to their university destination — this is especially more pronounced.
While it’s up to you to bring what you want, here are some general packing tips of what you should bring for a smooth flight:
- Cash in both your local and destination country’s currency
- Your phone, laptop and a portable charger
- A travel adaptor
- Face masks and hand sanitisers
- A comfortable neck pillow
- An extra pair of socks or change of clothes
- Travel toiletries
You should also consider bringing any baggage identifiers, your accommodation address, a copy of your ID documents, or anything else you think you might need to refer to during your trip.
Need more packing tips for your carry-on luggage? Read this.
Your student essentials
Next on the agenda is what you’ll need as a university student. Some packing tips to keep in mind include never wasting luggage space on large items that can be bought overseas. These include bedsheets, linen, pillows, kitchen essentials, stationery, and notebooks.
This applies to supplies you’d need for your classes, too. Remember that you can purchase your textbooks, folders and anthologies on campus, so you can refrain from buying them beforehand.
Instead, you should focus on bringing supplies that are absolutely crucial for your classes, such as your laptop and tablets.
A useful packing tip: if you are thinking of finding a replacement for any of your devices, hold off from doing so until you travel. You can easily find a replacement abroad, especially if you’re travelling to major higher education countries like the UK, US, Australia or Canada.
Your personal essentials
Once you have everything you need to survive overseas, you should turn your attention to the belongings and souvenirs that are important to have with you.
You should understand that after you’ve settled border control, university registration, and the chaos that will be your first week of classes, you’ll be confronted with the inevitable: the fact that you are living by yourself in a foreign country for the first time. In this, you should try to create a space for yourself that’s familiar and comfortable.
Some packing tips in this regard: bring family photos, unique memorabilia, and knick-knacks that have personal meaning to you to decorate your room. This way, you’ll always find comfort even amidst an unfamiliar environment should you need to retreat from university life for a few hours.