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What to bring, what to buy, how to store.

xnamelessxxnamelessx 334 replies40 threads Member
edited February 2011 in International Students
So now that the first acceptances are out and the whole going-to-college-in-the-usa thing is getting pretty serious for most of us (at least for me :) ), I figure it's time to start talking about the move. Okay, I guess it's still going to be a while, but I'm all excited because I recently got my first decision so I want to start thinking about it NOW ;).

Deciding what to bring is hard for everyone, but especially for us internationals who can't just stuff everything in the trunk of the car and drive a few hours. Every item we pack is important because we'll have to pay a whole lot of money for extra suitcases and shipping. So I figured we could use a thread where we can make a list of the essentials we'll need to bring from home, what to buy when we're on campus, and how to store everything when back home. Is it cheaper to pay for the extra suitcase, or to have things shipped? How much clothes should you pack, the whole closet or just your favorites?

Former internationals and those who have made the move before are more than welcome to contribute!
edited February 2011
37 replies
Post edited by xnamelessx on
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Replies to: What to bring, what to buy, how to store.

  • confidential2015confidential2015 1356 replies40 threads Senior Member
    I simply love your idea about this thread! Anyone who can help?

    Mod team, shouldn't this discussion be starred as a featured one?
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  • macmillmacmill 413 replies9 threads Member
    Agree.bump bump bump!
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  • lullinatalklullinatalk 566 replies25 threads Member
    You know those expandable monster suitcases? Bring at least one of those. Just bring lots of stuff to wear and buy everything else here. I feel like your style changes a lot after a while in the US, so pack lots of basics, especially because that's how everyone dresses here. I think I basically got a new wardrobe since I got here 4 years ago. I go to a high school, so I don't know about college, but I had a lot of opportunities to stock up on school and club tshirts. As for everything else--one trip to Walmart, etc. should be sufficient. However, if you're a girl, and you use a particular brand of makeup or skincare, it might be a good idea to bring spare ones. But I find a lot of people worldwide use things like Mac and Neutrogena, so this shouldn't be an issue. Your local CVS will have these.


    Wear a backpack to the airport. If you're on a long flight, have a neck rest!!!

    Things you bring in your suitcase: clothes (lots of basics and some dress-up clothes), shoes, electronics, voltage converters if your electronics aren't 110V, some of your favorite books in your first language (ignore if your first language is English)

    Things you should buy on your first Walmart trip: bedding (can also get at Bed Bath & Beyond and the likes), desk light, detergent (optional: bleach and softener), dryer sheets, school stuff like notebooks and pencils, laundry bag, towels, shower basket, a lot of hangers, hair dryer, Febreze. I personally recommend that you buy a snuggie because they are awesome.

    Things you should buy on your first CVS trip: hand sanitizer, your typical shower stuff, your typical contacts stuff, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, razor, shaving cream. Buy budget packs of these so you'll have spare ones.

    I might have missed out some but that's pretty much everything in my dorm room.
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10287 replies175 threads Senior Member
    I agree with lullinatalk. Bring clothes, expensive electronics (e.g. a laptop computer if you have one), personal items, something with an alarm and enough toiletries to get started. Buy the rest in the US. I had no trouble fitting everything I wanted to bring into two regular-sized suitcases.

    As for summer storage, it depends highly on your summer plans and living arrangements:

    - some colleges offer free storage space on campus
    - you can leave stuff with local friends
    - you can pay for off-campus storage (there's two sorts: one where the storage company picks up and delivers your items at a pre-determined place and time; the other where you rent a unit in a storage facility. the latter is cheaper and you can access your things at any time you wish, but you need your own transportation)
    - if you live off-campus, you can leave your things in your room/apartment
    - if you stay on campus over the summer (e.g. for a summer job, research position or summer classes), your stuff stays with you
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  • xnamelessxxnamelessx 334 replies40 threads Member
    Thanks lullinatalk and [email protected]!um!

    Where you able to just get an American sim-card for your cellphone or was that a problem? And can you recommend a phone service thing (English words I still have to learn ;) ) where you can make cheap international calls?
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  • lullinatalklullinatalk 566 replies25 threads Member
    Someone over the age of 18 please come explain how to make bank accounts and get phones. I still don't know how to do these :(

    For international calls, you would normally use Skype or buy a international calling card, which is available basically everywhere (Walmart, Target, Publix, etc.).
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  • xnamelessxxnamelessx 334 replies40 threads Member
    If you can't get help you could go to a bank and they should be able to assist you there. And don't they have phones at Walmart? The salespeople should be able to assist you.
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10287 replies175 threads Senior Member
    You probably want to get a new phone in the US. To the best of my knowledge, the only US carrier that uses SIM cards is T-Mobile. They may not have the best rates for your needs or coverage where you need it. Also note that American cell phones run on a different frequency band that may not be compatible with foreign phones.

    To open a bank account, take your passport, visa documents and some cash or checks to your preferred bank. It takes about 15-30 minutes to go through the paperwork. Some banks will give you a temporary ATM card w/o your name on it so that you can access your accounts right away; otherwise you will have to wait for your ATM card to come in the mail.

    Talking about calling cards, I use an online calling card with auto recharge. I have the number programmed into my phone and I never need to worry about running out of money.
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  • xnamelessxxnamelessx 334 replies40 threads Member
    Yeah I thought I'd need to get a new phone.... I've heard iPhones are cheap in the USA ;) And my family has had huge problems with T-Mobile, so we stay away from them.
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  • paukidpaukid 181 replies37 threads Junior Member
    Verizon and at&t have sim phones too. If you are inlove with your phone you can always unlock it or get the same model in the US
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10287 replies175 threads Senior Member
    You are right that AT&T has SIM cards. Thanks for adding that! (Verizon sells "global phones" with a SIM card for use outside of the US, but inside the US they just use CDMA technology.)
    I've heard iPhones are cheap in the USA
    No cheaper than in Germany, but that shouldn't deter you from getting one :)
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  • hellosunscheinhellosunschein 58 replies17 threads Junior Member
    I was planning on buying a laptop there and leaving the one I now have at home. I mean, laptops and...most other electornics are so much cheaper in the US than here. Why did you suggest that we should bring our own [email protected]!um?
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  • xnamelessxxnamelessx 334 replies40 threads Member
    Well if you already have a laptop that works, why buy a new one? If you're laptop breaks while you're there it would make sense to buy a new one, but there's no point in spending that money if you have one that works fine.
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  • ma3a20ma3a20 106 replies10 threads Junior Member
    I agree with xnamelessx about laptops; however, certain colleges and programs have minimum laptop requirements, so you'd want to make sure your current laptop satisfies those requirements. Additionally, if you want to buy a new laptop, universities can often get you discounts and special deals.
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10287 replies175 threads Senior Member
    ma3a20 has some good points and I would like to add to them:

    Some schools have ridiculously high minimum laptop "requirements" to encourage students who are buying new computers to invest into laptops that are still adequate in 4 years (since some students don't have the financial resources to buy several computers during their undergraduate years). If your computer does not meet the minimum requirements, find out if that policy is actually enforced. Your one-year-old 320GB, 2.1 GHz, 2MB computer might be perfectly adequate, even though the minimum requirements might be 500GB, 2.3Hz and 4MB.

    Educational discounts are usually offered for expensive brand name products. If you want a high-end Dell or Mac, definitely take advantage of the discounts! However, if your main priority is to save money, an Acer computer without discounts is still cheaper than a discounted Dell or Mac with the same technical specifications.
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  • lullinatalklullinatalk 566 replies25 threads Member
    Btw--Acer is awesome. I have a one-year-old 11.6" that I got for around $700 that's faring better than most of my friends' netbooks and functions almost the same as a regular laptop. But the whole laptop shopping needs a lot of researching. Usually, I just go with the system recommendations for the most complicated program I plan to run (which was The Sims 3 when I bought this laptop, but I gave that up for the portability).
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  • SandroRodriguesSandroRodrigues 630 replies53 threads Member
    ^Games are a must-have (:
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  • confidential2015confidential2015 1356 replies40 threads Senior Member
    @barium
    Do we need to bring a formal dress(The black suit)?
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  • b@r!um[email protected]!um 10287 replies175 threads Senior Member
    If you have a suit, it won't hurt to bring it. You might need it for job/internship interviews or the rare formal occasion. (For example, earlier this semester I went to a banquet at a conference where one of my professors received a national award.)
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  • confidential2015confidential2015 1356 replies40 threads Senior Member
    I read somewhere in CC that the cost of ordering a new suit is very high in the states so its better to bring a new one from home. Is it true that suits cost a LOT?
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