7 things to bring with you when coming to the UK for the First time

One question international students usually ask is ”what things should I bring along with me when coming to the UK for the first time?” This is a very good question, So I’ve written this post for you. As a general rule don’t bring too much.You will buy more things when you arrive the UK. However, I have compiled a list of six things I think you may want to bring along.

1. Photos of loved Ones

There is an old adage that says ”There is no place like home” . Living far away from home as an international student could sometimes make one homesick. When you’re homesick, you might feel nostalgic for familiar things like your family, friends, pets, house, or neighborhood. Homesickness isn’t only for kids. Practically everyone feels homesick from time to time, even adults.  So I suggest you bring with you photos of loved ones and posters to brighten your room and help you feel more at home.!


2. Prescription Medicine and Medical records

When you arrive in the UK, it will take some days before you  finally get registered with a doctor. I suggest you read my post on 5 vital UK Health information you should know.  If you are on special medication , my candid advice is that you bring your prescription medication with you. Ensure it is licensed for use in the UK and bring it in a well-labelled container or packet. You can bring your medical records too!

If you are from Africa or a related country where there is a high percentage of Malaria parasite, ensure to take along some malaria drugs. I say this because if you arrive in the UK with symptoms or strains of the disease in your blood, you could take the drug before you are eventually able to see a doctor in the UK. Please note that this is my personal opinion and should not be substituted for your doctor’s advice.

If you wear prescription glasses, Remember to bring them along too. I suggest you bring extra pairs as it is quite expensive to get prescription glasses here in the UK.


3.  Some Decent Clothes

The good thing about the UK is that you can actually wear whatever you like! People don’t really care about what you wear.  Nobody is going to judge you as a student on your outfit. Getting high grades AND becoming an ”A” student is what really matters.

However, different clothes are required for the different times of the year int the UK.  In winter ( October to March), you will need a decent winter coat to keep you warm. For ladies – a pair of decent boots with good soles and grip will come in  handy. Bring water proof shoes.  Don’t bring wellington boots ( rain boots American) . My advice is to bring a shoe(s) that will go with different outfits. Get some good thermal tops, long johns, socks and gloves.

A general rule is to bring clothes that will allow you to layer. Bring a Jumper, long-sleeves, a warm coat, hat for ladies,  gloves , and  scarves ( mufflers American).

I advice ladies to bring long sleeves,  a trendy jacket, short sleeve and a Cardigan, flat boots that won’t give you frost bite, and a blue and black jeans. Swim wear and sandals will also be good. Most importantly some sun shades and sweat-friendly vests to make you look like a celebrity in the summer!

Remember , you don’t have to buy all the things before you come. There are many shops in the UK where you can get them cheap. Later on you can read my post on 10 essential money-saving tips for International students.

4. Laptop, mobile phones and travelling bag

Ensure you travel with bags that has rollers. This is especially useful if you will need to use public transport to get to your accommodation or hall of residence.

A laptop would be a good thing to bring along. (Its up to you) you can buy one when you arrive! If you are extremely lucky  you may even get one for free. Read my post on 6 Ways to get items Free in the UK.  Howbeit, I find that bringing one from home is better because it proffers you the opportunity to load personal documents and files before coming. If you have an Ipad and  a Mac book I guess the use of iCloud is a potential option as it provides you with online storage.

When I first came to the UK, I didn’t bring a laptop – but  I later regretted it as it took me a while to settle down, open an account to receive money from home. This meant I had to travel to the university whenever  I needed to access online course materials. It took me another 5 weeks before I eventually purchased a decent laptop.

If you have a good laptop and mobile phone, please bring them with you. You can pick up a UK SIM card at the airport when you arrive.


5.  Bras, Pants and Underwear

Some ladies find it had to find to find bras that fit them well. So you may want to bring some with you if you can. If you are very small or large, I suggest bringing as many clothes as you can  – in case you find it difficult to get ready-made clothes in the UK.

It is a good thing to bring plenty of underwear. Remember if you are going to be living in  a student accommodation or with a host family, you may not be able to use a washing machine as frequently as you would do in your home Country.

Sanitary towels or tampons can be bought in the UK. But for your comfort you may wish to take a small supply with you to give you time to find something that makes you feel comfortable.

6. Sports clothes and other Essentials

Running shoes, hair clipper, towels, combs, personal cutlery, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo,  tooth brush and bathing soap are some of the thing you can bring too. Like I said, You can purchase them when you arrive – its up to you.  Ensure to bring your favorite CD’s / albums or any related things that could remind you of home. You never can tell, they could someday come in handy.

I find that Africans love to watch home-videos. You do not have to bring any home movies with you as there are many streaming websites that stock the latest indigenous, Nigerian and Ghanaian movies. You may however need to pay a subscription fee every month to be granted access to certain websites.

For women, Sanitary towels or tampons can be bought in the UK. I don’t think this would be a problem. But for your comfort you may wish to take a small supply with you to give you time to find something that makes you feel comfortable.

If bringing any electronic gadget ( e.g a portable hair dryer) remember that the UK operates a 50Hz, 240V supply. So if  your device operates on  110V supply, I suggest you bring an adapter with you when coming.


7. Bring some Cash –  (Not too much!)

It is prudent to bring some pounds sterling in cash when coming. But don’t bring large amounts as it could get lost or stolen. It is advisable to take money in the form of Sterling bank drafts, sterling travelers cheque,  or you could transfer your money to an account opened here in the UK.

Read my post  on 5 things you will need to work in the UK to learn how to open a UK Bank account when you arrive. Note that there are many ATM cash machines located at shopping centers around the UK. You will also find some on your university and college campus. Almost all bank cards around the world can be used in British ATM cash machines. However, do bear in mind that some cash machines charge a withdrawal fee ( about £1.50 per withdrawal). You will be notified on the screen if this is the case and you will have an option to decline the transaction

Remember your bank in your home country may charge you a fee for card withdrawals.


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