Find out what life is really like at Durham University

InternationalStudent experience

What to bring as an International Student

Note – this blog was written before the covid19 pandemic, however, much of the advice is still relevant.

View all the advice for new and returning students here.

After 6 long years in the UK I am now in settled status, I am very much an EU student. I came to the UK at the age of 15, alone and clueless. On one side, this means I can give you an accurate portrayal of what the UK is like, what is needed here, and the culture shock you may face. On the other side, I haven’t stayed here permanently either; last year I had the chance to live in Belgium, Argentina, France, and China. I very much know what it’s like to be an ex-pat, or an international student abroad. I’ve seen most case scenarios, so stick with this article, because it may be the most unbiased one you’ll read.

The Students’ Union from Kingsgate Bridge

Here is my top 10 must-bring list for International Students

From a girl who covers Home, EU and International status herself (because one must be versatile in life):

  1. I’ll start with a sentimental one: picture frames, Polaroids, prints, art… anything that reminds you of home to be honest. As much as you are excited to leave your old life behind and start anew, there will be moments when you’ll miss home, and these pictures and memories will give you the courage and comfort you need.
  2. A notebook. Changing countries can be mentally draining. When I first arrived a notebook was a good way to organise my thoughts and empty my mind. You can note down anything: journal entries, poetry, random thoughts, lists… when you look back at it in time, you’ll realise how much you’ve grown as a person.
  3. A UK sim card. This is an important one. Please do your research and buy one either before you leave home or when you arrive in the UK.
  4. Some books from home, in your native language (again, amazon exists but if you can bring them, they’re a good memory from home).
  5. Passport photocopy. Both printed and digital. Now, I’ve never had to do this myself, but I know of friends who have lost their passport whilst in the UK. While it is relatively easy to go to the embassy and file emergency papers (apart from the fact the embassy is a BIT far away, in London), the process is a lot easier if you have passport photocopies, etc. with you.
  6. A laptop. A camera if you do photography, too. There are some absolutely beautiful views in Durham.
  7. Random, but, headphones. You’ll need them when sharing student accommodation. And if you can, bring a mug too. Don’t ask why just bring it, I promise you’ll get good use out of it.
  8. Warm clothes. I can’t stress this enough. WARM CLOTHES, WATERPROOF SHOES. Spanish fellas, Latin American peeps, brace yourselves. Please don’t think you are made of steel and immune to the UK weather. I tell you now, YOU ARE NOT. Please invest in a good coat, warm jumpers, and some waterproof shoes. There are plenty of places to buy this stuff in the UK so you don’t need to bring it all with you. Trust me you will be buying hats, gloves, scarves and thick socks.
  9. A durable bag that is comfortable to carry on your back or shoulder and fits your books and laptop. This is an important one, you’ll be doing a lot of walking and carrying books up and down, your back shouldn’t pay the price.
  10. Comfortable shoes. Again, see above, as Durham is a relatively small city, you do end up walking everywhere!
The riverbanks in the snow, beautiful but chilly!

You’ll have a wonderful time at Durham; it is fine to be a bit scared, but mostly excited, just remember you are not the only one. You’ll meet incredible people and quickly adapt to life in the UK, have no doubt of that.

Check out the welcome and induction pages for lots of help and advice about coming to Durham.

Marina Mestres-Segarra

Heya! I’m Marina, a Combined Honours 4th year from Grey College. I’m from Barcelona but have a lot of experience living abroad and travelling to random places (which means I know plenty of useless facts). I breathe and bleed coffee, so you’re most likely to find me in town, having some liquid goodness, dancing around or fundraising for charities. If not, check the airport, it’s always a good bet too. Follow me on Instagram @wheretofindmarina
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