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Packing List for College

When you plan to go to another country to study, the primary focus is always on selecting the right university, enrolling and going through the daunting visa process. Once you’ve secured admission and your student visa, you can think ahead to your final steps, including your packing list for college. As international students, it can be very easy to overlook the traveling aspect. You might be wondering what you should – and should not – put on your packing list for college, what ultimately makes it into your suitcase. Worry not, we’re here to provide you with a general packing list for college, including tips and recommended places to shop in the US or Canada.

Packing tips:

  • Label your luggage – We recommend adding a luggage tag with your first and last name, and the name and contact details of your university. Sometimes luggage can get mixed up or misplaced at the airport, and is usually delivered within 48 hours of your arrival. By labelling, this will make it easier for the airport to send it to you once found.
  • Pack essentials in your carry-on bag – This includes an extra change of clothes and underwear, phone with charger, any medication you require, and travel size toiletries. This also includes all of your immigration documents, including your original I-20 (for the US), and your passport with visa/study permit. You’ll also want to carry your offer letter from the university, as well as the name and contact details for the Admissions rep at the university.
  • Check the restrictions for luggage – When packing for college, be aware of the weight restrictions, the number of bags you can check and carry on, and any baggage fees for transferring to domestic flights. You can find this information easily on each airline’s website.
  • Snacks from Home – For those who really love food from home, and want a little piece of it when you’re sick of dining services, you can carry dry snacks and spices in your checked luggage. Leave behind the bulky foods, like pickles, and fresh produce.
  • Less is always more – When packing for college, do not carry your entire life with you; just pack the little things you will really need. At some point you will come back home to visit. Also, the size of your dorm room – regardless if it is a single or shared room – is small, and you won’t have the space to store all of your suitcases. Pack only what is important and valuable to you, such as everyday casual wear, pictures of friends/family/pets, and traditional clothing or items from your home country.
  • Emergency Contact Information – We recommend leaving with family the name and contact information of a school official. In case of an emergency in your home country, the school official can also try to reach you. Ideally, the school official is someone who works in an International Student Services Office. Similarly, the university will also expect you to provide emergency contact details of your parent or legal guardian.

What To Pack In Your Carry-On

  • Immigration documents- Passport with your visa/study permit, your original I-20 (US only), offer letter of enrollment, bank statements, fee receipts, immunization records (if required by the University where you’re enrolling)
  • Flight itinerary and tickets
  • A pair of clothes to change
  • Toiletries
  • Phone and charger
  • Medication, if you require any.
  • Money – in local currency; i.e. USD
  • Contact information for a University official – name, phone number, email address. This should NOT be in your phone, but on a separate sheet of paper, in case the Immigration officer at your port of entry requires contact information.

Items To Carry From Home (Main Luggage)

  • Underwear (enough for two weeks)
  • Long pants – jeans, khakis, etc. (4 pairs)
  • Dress shirts
  • T shirts
  • Skirts – if you like wearing skirts
  • Accessories such as hats, belts, swimsuits
  • Hijabs (Muslim girls)
  • Traditional or cultural attire/wear (at most two pairs)
  • Sweatshirts/hoodies (you’ll also probably buy one or two of these at your university to show school spirit)
  • Sweaters
  • Pajamas

Items To Buy On Arrival In The United States

  • Bedding – includes a blanket/duvet, bedsheets and pillows.
  • Small sewing kit – just in case you need to stitch something minor.
  • Small first aid kit – band aids of various sizes, pain relievers, antibiotic cream (such as Neosporin), nail clippers and filer.
  • Hangers – The space in the dorms is not that big, so having a few hangers at hand to arrange your clothes in the closet is good.
  • Winter wear – You will want to invest in a good winter jacket, boots, leggings and some thermal wear for when the winter season comes.
  • Floor rug – this could also be something you and your roommate discuss about who is bringing it. If you have one roommate, you do not need multiple rugs.
  • Cleaning supplies – dish soap, sponges, laundry detergent/soap, etc.
  • Personal toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bath/hand towels, loofa/scrub, toothpaste.
  • Flip flops to use in the bathroom – especially if it is a community bathroom that you’ll be sharing with multiple roommates or floormates.
  • Hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron
  • Reading lamp for your bed side – a desk lamp will likely be provided, but you may end up reading in bed and want a small lamp for the side.
Packing list for college

Below are a few store you can check out on arrival

What are some of the things that you will be including in your packing list for college? Let us know on the comment section below!

By Genevieve Mohamed

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