Blog from abroad No. 4: Travel tips

Mar 21, 2023
Emily Pachta and friends on St. Patrick's Day. (Courtesy photo)

Sophomore Emily Pachta of Wichita is studying abroad at Newman University’s sister school in Birmingham, England, and continues her latest adventures in blog No. 4.

Follow along with Pachta’s blog posts on the Newman Today news site as she explores the British university also named for St. John Henry Newman, as well as Birmingham and other cities and sites in England and Europe.

Read blog No. 1 – Getting acquainted

Read blog No. 2 – A day in the life

Read blog No. 3 – A trip to Scotland

Hey guys! England is finally starting to show its native weather and it has been raining all week. This made me think about what I packed and what I wish I had brought.

Before I begin with a packing list/wish list, I want to say that packing lists are absolutely useless. Each person will have their own specific things they need but as humans and college students, my packing list might help some of you, maybe (or not). I’m saying this not to deter you from reading and researching what you should bring, but rather in hopes that you don’t stress over packing or buying everything that people suggest. Basically, take this with a grain of salt.

Let’s begin.

Essentials – These are things that are non-negotiable.

  • Outlet adapters – The UK uses a different outlet so buy some adapters for your American electronics. I bought these adapters and really like them because they have multiple outlets and are small and easily moveable. Warning: If you plan on traveling the continent of Europe you’ll need different outlets from both America and the UK so make sure you have those before you travel.
  • Umbrella – Obviously.
  • Nail clippers – Random, I know. But I forgot them and then had to buy some and it was annoying (haha).
  • Any toiletries to last you a week or so in your carry on – I brought little shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste and deodorant and it was the best thing I could have done. I didn’t get my checked bags for a few days and my credit cards didn’t work so I would have been in trouble if I couldn’t shower or brush my teeth (ew).
  • Slippers – I had to buy these and I use them every day. You never know who you will live with and how clean (or not) they will be, so I wear these when I go to the communal kitchen and living room.
  • Medicine – Fair warning, Tylenol/ acetaminophen is called Paracetamol here but I didn’t know that for weeks so I was worried I would run out of Tylenol and not be able to get more. Luckily, I figured it out and was able to buy it with peace of mind. Melatonin is also only offered by prescription here so if you use that consistently then make sure to pack enough. Always check air travel guidelines to make sure you aren’t smuggling illegal drugs over the border (that would not be great) and for prescription medication, keep it in the original container that is labeled with your name and pharmacy.
  • Laptop or iPad – Obviously, you will still be taking classes (it’s lame, I know).
A bag of chili and lime flavored tortilla chips from Trader Joe's. "I found these in my suitcase a few days after I arrived and cried literal tears of joy," Pachta said. (Courtesy photo)
A bag of chili and lime flavored tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s. “I found these in my suitcase a few days after I arrived and cried literal tears of joy,” Pachta said. (Courtesy photo)
  • Snacks – Yes, this is essential. Bringing some American food is great and if you research your favorite snacks you can be strategic about what you pack. I wouldn’t pack plain potato chips because you can get those here but I would pack Cheez-its or Takis because you can’t really find those here. It’s honestly a science perfecting what snacks to bring.

Nonessentials that I use but you might not

  • Stuffed animal – I think I have referenced him in almost every blog but I love Pigeon. It is a nice reminder of home and very comforting. If you don’t have a stuffed animal (probably because you’re lame) you could bring any comfort item. (A pillowcase is a great example because it’s small and can be comforting.)
  • Posters and pictures – These are great to decorate with because they don’t take up much space in your bags but they make your room feel way homier.
Pachta's poster wall and Pigeon, her stuffed frog. (Courtesy photo)
Pachta’s poster wall and Pigeon, her stuffed frog. (Courtesy photo)
  • Towel – If you pay for an accommodation pack (highly recommended because it comes with sheets, a duvet, hangers and many more necessities) you will get a towel from the school. The towels they offer though are kinda small and itchy so I am glad I brought my own comfy towel. You might also need a towel if you travel and stay in hostels.
  • Backpack – I bought a travel backpack for the flight here and for weekend trips and I really like it. It is very spacious and it is nice not having to clean out my school backpack every time I want to go on a little trip. This is the one I got, the reviews are decent but it’s definitely not the most well-made backpack, the seams are kind of pulling already.
  • Layers – If you know me, you know I love my crewnecks and while I wear them all the time, I wish I brought more layering items. Crewnecks are big and bulky so packing neutral laying items helps so you don’t run out of outfits by week two. I have definitely bought clothes here but I would much rather spend money on traveling. When my parents came to visit, they brought me some clothes I requested and I sent them home with half a suitcase full of clothes I didn’t want anymore. So that was nice but you might not have that opportunity.
  • Tote bag – I have 100% become a tote bag girl and I am not ashamed. Plastic bags cost 30p (basically 30 cents) so having a tote bag can be helpful. Lots of the other internationals have them and it’s pretty much standard practice in Europe from my understanding. If you forget or don’t have one, that’s OK, you can buy one when you get here. I bought this frog one for £3 and I love it so much. Newman here also gives them out periodically so I snagged one of those on Valentines day.
Pachta's caption: "My tote bag that I bought here, the frog is holding an umbrella and says 'I’m Growing Places.' HOW CUTE!" (Courtesy photo)
“My tote bag that I bought here, the frog is holding an umbrella and says ‘I’m Growing Places.’ HOW CUTE!” (Courtesy photo)

Things I regret bringing

  • Too many shoes – Guys, I have a lot of shoes. (“Oh my gosh, Emily, we would have never guessed, that’s crazy!”) I know, I know, it’s out of character. You will definitely need tennis shoes, I brought workout shoes and normal tennis shoes and those get lots of wear. Other than that I pretty much only wear my Doc Martens (I will wear those into the ground). Basically, just choose a maximum of four shoes you wear regularly and you probably won’t even miss your other ones.
  • Nice clothes – I brought a fancy-ish dress and I have not worn it. Ever. She just sits in my closet. I thought I might need it for some reason but I doubt I will and I would have rather just bought one here if I really needed it. It took up valuable suitcase real estate.
  • Travel activities – I brought Sudoku, crossword and real books to keep me busy on my flights but really I mostly just slept or watched movies. This is obviously dependent on what you like but I like all those things and still didn’t use them. Unless you are a huge reader, I would just bring one book and you might end up finding books you want to buy over here. They are big and heavy so be careful, you won’t have as much free time while traveling as you may think.
"I bought this book ('Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Manmade World') in Edinburgh and I would highly recommend it to any pre-med or pre-health professionals," Pachta said. (Courtesy photo)
“I bought this book (‘Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Manmade World’) in Edinburgh and I would highly recommend it to any pre-med or pre-health professionals,” Pachta said. (Courtesy photo)

I could probably come up with way more but I don’t want to bore you! The best advice I can give though is to be conscious of what you are using, wearing and eating for a week and definitely pack as much of that as you can.

Even better if you can do that for a month so you don’t forget things like nail clippers, any medication you use sometimes use or seasonal items.

You know yourself best so be confident in what you pack and worst case, you might have to buy a few items when you get here. As long as you have the essentials, you should be good.

As always, if you have any questions email me at [email protected] and I hope you enjoyed reading!

Study abroad opportunities at Newman University

Students are encouraged to participate in Newman University’s overseas study and exchange programs, which contribute to individual and intercultural development.