Starting a new school year is tough enough, but there's even more pressure if you're going overseas to start boarding school. Exciting new experiences and independence await, but before that, one must pack.
I remember last year's last-minute shopping trips, panicking about every missing item and deliberating about the necessity of bringing all seven pairs of shoes on my school’s packing list, so I'm sharing the tips that past me would have greatly appreciated.
Comfort is key
Every good night’s rest starts with your environment, which for me includes a comfy pillow. I made the mistake of forgetting mine on my first term abroad, which became one of my biggest regrets that year. The one the school provided was basically a sack filled with what I assume to be dried beans, like a bigger version of the bean bags we’d sometimes use in P.E.
The familiarity of the scent and feel of my own pillow helped with homesickness, too.
Liven up your space
Definitely bring a few decorations to spice up your room and make the space yours for the year. Give it a bit more personality, a place you can call a home away from home, and it’ll relieve those bouts of homesickness we all get every once in a while.
Pictures will liven up your room for sure; it’s reassuring to be surrounded by familiar faces. Seeing your loved ones and friends smiling at you from your walls can cheer you up when you’re down.
Food, food, food
I cannot stress this enough, food from home is great for when you’re homesick, particularly those first few months away. Stuff your suitcase full so you can savour the taste of home until your next visit back.
A rice cooker is an excellent addition to your baggage if you’re studying in Europe or a country where rice is not the carb of choice.
Instant noodles aren’t exactly the healthiest dinner option, but it’s always good to have them on hand for when you just don’t feel like going to the canteen. Bonus points for the ease and quick clean-up.
Be smart: you don't need a winter jacket in Singapore
Be smart and pack for the climate. If you’re going somewhere with four distinct seasons, make sure to pack a winter coat and some warm clothes. If your destination is a country where hot and humid weather is expected year round, don’t worry about packing them.
Only pack what you know you'll wear
On the same note, don’t bring too many clothes. When I was packing, I kept throwing clothes I’d never worn into my suitcase.
I tried to justify it in my head by asking "Yes, but what if … happens?" Let’s face it, you’ll probably never find yourself in any of these hypothetical situations. So put that extra pair of trousers back in favour of sticking to the tried-and-true favourites you know you’ll wear.
Keep in mind that you have to bring it back
The most important thing to remember is that you have to pack everything up again at the end of the year.
It took me about a week, helped by several late nights and my roommate’s insistence, to put all of my belongings in my two allocated boxes before room inspection - and I was one of the people who had my packing schedule reasonably under control.
To sum it up: take only what’s necessary. If you can imagine living your daily life without it, leave it at home and make space for something of greater importance (like more food!).