Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Packing for a long trip can be a daunting task for many, not to mention packing for a 3-year full-time DClinPsy journey during these unprecedented times of the pandemic. In this blogpost, we are hoping to share with you some of our personal experience in and advice on things to do or pack before you fly to the UK. However, this article does not serve as an exhaustive list of items that you must bring with you when you depart. Rather, it aims at highlighting the 10 crucial things that we believe are worth bearing in mind when preparing for your departure, especially for incoming year 1 trainees.
1. Official and photocopies of important documents and letters
First and foremost, always remember to bring the official copies and photocopies of all your important ID documents and letters, with English translated copies with you as well if relevant. These include all your official academic transcripts, graduation certificates, passports, ID cards, driving licenses, travel visa, university unconditional offer letter, employment contracts (dated and signed), tenancy agreements (dated and signed), recent bank statements, utility bill invoices, council tax proof of payments, certificate of no criminal conviction record issued by your local government, and etc.
This is to ensure that you have all your documents with you not just upon arrival to prove that you have the right to enter the country as a student, but also to help you with most of your future administrative processes such as university matriculation, employment ID checks, opening a UK bank account, or even finding a new accommodation and etc. Having all the important documents and letters to prove your identity, address (current and past 3 years), financial status, and your criminal conviction record would very likely save you a lot of time and hassles in searching for and accessing the documents when needed.
2. Recently taken ID photos
You may be required to submit an ID photo taken recently (usually in the past 6 months) for your university and employee's card. Having one that is taken recently and that shows an accurate reflection of your face with a bright and clear (usually white) background is therefore highly recommended.
3. Keep important files on cloud/ drive storage
Once you have listed out and prepared the aforementioned documents, letters and ID photos, make sure you do not forget to keep a soft copy of each of them saved on your cloud or drive storage. This is to make sure that when necessary, you would be able to access your files easily through any device as long as there is Internet connection.
4. Face masks & masks pouch
As we are living in some of the most unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety should always be on the top of our priority especially when we are away from home on our own. Bringing a sufficient number of face masks with you when you fly would mean that you would not need to urgently search for a pharmacy or local shops to purchase face masks upon arrival in overseas. Preparing a portable masks pouch with you to place your mask in is also a common way through which people keep their masks clean when they have to take it off (e.g. during meal times).
5. (Refillable) hand sanitisers
In addition to face masks and masks pouch, preparing a palm-size hand sanitisers with you in your bag even during your flight would mean that you would always be able to keep your hands clean wherever you are. It would be even better if the hand sanitiser bottle can be refilled when you arrive in the UK and are able to purchase more that usually come in larger bottles.
This looks relatively unimportant comparing to the other items but indeed having a pen with you in your bag can be incredibly time-saving, especially when filling in documents at the UK border in the airport which often has a long queue.
7. Global ATM card
Applying for the global ATM function in your local bank at home would mean that you can access your account and withdraw money from your debit account whenever and wherever you are. This is especially important for international students who do not already have a UK or overseas bank account set up prior to departure, as opening a bank account can take days to weeks which may not be ideal for those who do not prefer bringing a lot of cash or credit cards with them.
8. Instant food / Ramen for the first few days
The first few days upon arrival are always the most physically and mentally challenging days due to factors such as taking long-haul flights, jet lag, settling in a new room/ city, and being overwhelmed with the "to-do" list after arrival. Therefore, having packed some instant food from home in your suitcase such as ramen can be a life-changing experience to help you settle in a new place. Having instant food prepared does not only mean that you would not have to search for food right upon arrival, but it would also give you a taste of home that helps you with the whole settling and adjustment process.
9. Rice cooker / multi-function cooker
Although instant food is easy and quick, it is never the best choice for our health. So for a longer-term future, my experience makes me certain that bringing a rice cooker or a multi-cooker from home with me can ensure that I can still treat myself with home food while being abroad. Some of you might wonder whether it is possible to purchase them in the UK. Yes - it is possible. But there would likely be more options in different price ranges available in our home countries than in the UK, especially for those who are coming to the UK from Asia. So my personal advice that it is worth spending some time on searching for a portable and appropriate one before departure from your home.
10. Anything that makes you feel like home (away from home)
It is often common for people to forget things that "do not look important/ necessary" at first glance when it comes to packing. As we are preparing for a 3-year full-time journey with a full-on study and work experience, it is vital to make sure that we know how to take care of ourselves when resources are limited than when we are back at home. So if there is something that always makes you feel at ease, be it a diffuser, a book, a special kind of ground coffee, a video game, a pillow, a hair comb, a pair of pyjamas etc., make sure you bring it with you to the UK if possible. This is definitely something that is within what we can do, purely to ourselves and for ourselves.