Written by

jaimalee-gorman

Greetings from Bournemouth! I am Jaime from Colorado, studying MLIT (Hons) English at BU. If you are like me, deciding what to bring to the UK and what to buy is a challenging task! Below is my guide to help you decide what is most important.

What Should I Bring?

  • Make sure to bring a good mixture of clothing for all weather situations. Don’t forget good walking shoes, a windproof/rainproof coat and a good scarf!
  • You should bring your own laptop so you are connected once you arrive, but there are many deals offered to students for new computers. If you are bringing your phone, make sure your phone is unlocked and sim card available. Phones are much more expensive in the UK.
  • Office Supplies (such as pens, post-its and spirals) are quite expensive here. If you bring at least a starting supply, you can save yourself quite a bit of money upfront.
  • You should bring your own toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and floss. These can be a bit expensive. Clarifying shampoo can help clear your hair from hard water sediments.
  • You should bring some memorabilia or personal items with you so that you have a connection to home. This can vary from person to person. I brought some photos, a couple action figures, my favourite book and a couple of my favourite blankets!

What Should I Buy?

  • Although the BU campus printers are inexpensive, buying your own printer can save a lot of travelling and provide flexibility during breaks and closed hours.
  • If you brought your own phone, purchasing a sim card is fast and easy
  • Cookware and flatware is inexpensive in the UK. For students sharing a flat in BU accommodation, you can split the cost with your flatmates.
  • US and UK bed sizes are not the same and you will want to buy your bedding here. UK sheet sets consists of a fitted sheet, pillowcase, and a duvet (what we would call a comforter).
  • Laundry averages £3 to wash and £1.50 to dry. Purchasing an airer (similar to a drying line) adds up to quite a lot of savings!
  • Many students have difficulty with the minerals and taste from the hard water. A Brita water pitcher runs about £8 at ASDA and makes the water taste friendly!
  • An electric kettle is for so much more than tea. I use my kettle to heat water for pasta, tea and coffee in addition to cooking soups!
  • Vinegar! You can use this to clean off the scaling from the hardwater in the bathroom and kitchen, use with warm water to mop (instead of buying floor cleaner), use as a non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner, and it works nicely with laundry to prevent stiffness.

Adapters vs UK Plugs

You should bring at least two US/UK adapters. If you are staying for a few years and bring any of your own electronics (such as computer, hard drives, or gaming consoles), you can use adapters but they can be clunky and might not fit spatially in outlets or power strips (here called the “mains”). Buying UK plugs for items that have a converter built in, makes it much easier to plug in, especially when utilising your laptop on campus. You can bring your own hair dryer, curling iron, and flat iron. Some students have had no issues with the adapters, while others have experienced electrical issues. When in doubt, leave it out!

Where to Shop?

You have several choices (depending on where you choose to live) of where to buy supplies. Most of these shops have online websites which are accessible from the US. One of the best things to do is look at all the online stores before you leave to gauge what items will cost. I have listed these in order from overall cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Start at Poundland (which is our equivalent of the dollar store). Much of what you need can be found here.
  2. Wilko (home items)
  3. Aldi / Lidl (cheapest for food, though more limited selection. Home items can be pricier than ASDA)
  4. IKEA and ASDA (these are roughly the same price range, and overall rank in the medium expense level)
  5. Tesco / Sainsbury (most expensive grocery stores, but can carry harder to find options).
  6. Staples (High Price, but good for office supplies you can’t find anywhere else)
  7. Curry’s PC World, Maplin (good place to find electronics, converters, and plugs)
  8. Homescapes (for US style bedding that comes with a flat sheet)