You finished long essays, submitted your application, and finally got accepted into the U. Congrats! It seems like all of the difficult tasks have been completed. Are you sure? Because there is still one more important job that will affect your entire college experience: packing your luggage for your journey to Minnesota!
This article is based on my personal experience as a transfer international student. I grew up in Vietnam, a country that is mostly dominated by tropical climate. I moved to Minnesota after three years of living in Seattle, Washington, where the average winter temperature is mild and rarely gets below 34F (1C). That’s a bit about my background. Now, let’s jump to the list of items that are most essential, in my opinion, for international students to bring to Minnesota during your first year at the U.
1. Two to three waterproof, good down jackets or winter coats and a few of your most favorite sweaters
I want to emphasize that you should NOT pack two full suitcases of winter clothing. I have friends bringing 5 checked bags of clothings for all seasons. This is totally not necessary for two reasons. First, you will probably waste a lot of time and money buying those clothes in your country, and packing them (and paying fees for extra checked-in bags too.) Secondly, most of the clothing designed in warm countries, in fact, do not suit the purpose of helping you to survive throughout months of -20F freezing Minnesota weather.
After arriving to the U.S., you can buy those good winter clothing for affordable price. Plus, during your orientation, ISSS and our international student leads will also offer more helpful information about transportation and how to get to those shopping locations.
2. A set of winter gloves (waterproof preferred), a hat (beanies) and two warm scarves
If you chose Minnesota because of how lovely the winter is, you are probably excited to build a snowman, aren’t you? Thus, try to get waterproofed gloves so you won’t worry about having your hands wet. Having difficult time finding ones? It’s okay, Minnesota malls will take care of them as you arrive!
3. Electrical converters and adapters
The electricity supply in the U.S. is 120 volts. It’s likely that the electricity supply in the U.S and the shape of electrical outlets are different from the ones you use in your home countries. If this is the case, make sure to bring a couple of international adapters to serve your electronic devices. Even though electronic retail stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, or BestBuy all sell this; I still think it’s a good idea to have your own adapters ready in your pocket, so you won’t be worried about getting to the store on your first days.
4. Shoes: a good pair of tennis/running shoes, and a pair of waterproofed boots
5. A hair dryer
Good news is that this item doesn’t take much space in your luggage. I think a hair dryer is no less important than snow boots, especially when you live you Minnesota
6. A good backpack
Investing on a good backpack will never disappoint you. I can guarantee that! You will use it even more often than you use your jackets or shoes. Thus, no matter whether you go to school or travel, a good backpack will always be a loyal friend of yours.
7. Glasses/ Contact lenses - bring extra, or burn your pocket!!
Scenario one: you have your first exam in the morning and can’t find your glasses. What are you going to do?
Scenario two: You finally find your beloved glasses. They sit on the floor, but unfortunately, they are broken into pieces because of a mysterious reason (you wish you could know!)
To avoid these two terrible situations from disrupting my normal routine, I always have at least one extra pair of glasses in my drawer. This saves me hundreds of dollars when such accidents occur to my eyewears.
8. Prescriptions Copies of your medical and dental records
9. Authentic ethnic seasonings and snacks
If you’re planning to live in a dorm, you will eat in the residential hall most of the time. How about snack time? Having your favorite snacks ready in your bag will ease your homesickness. If you will be living off campus, good for you! This is the time for your cooking show! These authentic ethnic seasonings from your home countries, plus a bit time in the kitchen, will magically turn you into a real chef. Trust me, you will eventually need to cook for yourself in the long-term, so it doesn’t matter where you live in your first year, put on an apron and practice!
10. Cheap, easy-to-carry souvenirs that present your cultures
From my personal experience, this is the most exciting part of my shopping trip. I was fortunate enough to have chance introducing to my international friends about Vietnamese culture. I remember in my first time arriving the U.S., I gave my host family and my Japanese roommate some souvenirs made of Vietnamese’s traditional silk. Before I left my college in Seattle, I also brought to my favorite professor some Vietnamese coffee. Not only did those gifts present my culture, they also showed my gratitude to my American friends, who were welcoming and supporting me throughout my journey abroad in the U.S.