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Study Abroad in London: How to Pack for Your Semester

Oct 6, 2021 9:45:00 AM / by Chi Vu

Packing does not have to be a nightmare anymore! Our London blogger/vlogger Chi Vu shares what sort of essentials you should pack for your study abroad. She also gives a quick primer on handling cash, credit cards, grocery shopping, and more once you land in London town.

Cover photo - Packing is not a nightmare anymore. Hope this helps you with your packing journey to London!

Packing has always been a little stressful for me, and there are a few things I wish I had known before going to London for my fall semester abroad. In this blog post, I’m sharing some tips to help you prepare for your own study abroad experience.

1. Bring Cash.

I recommend bringing at least £150 in cash with you in case your card happens to be declined. Having some money in your pocket is also helpful when making purchases at some markets or in taxi cabs where they do not accept credit cards.

2. Before You Go, Apply for a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees.

Using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees will save you a lot of money throughout the semester, as you will spend money on hanging out, shopping, and ordering food here. 

Speaking of shopping, if you’re looking for somewhere to shop for groceries and essentials when you get to London, Aldi and Tesco are two of the more reasonably-priced stores here. Sainsbury's is a little bit more expensive. If you want to buy toiletries and other basics, Boots store is the place for you!

3. Bring an Umbrella! 

I went to Boots and a few other stores in London, and guess what, umbrellas here cost around £12-£25. If you want to avoid this extra expense, don’t forget to bring your own small umbrella from the US.

4. Prepare Your Phone Before You Go.

I recommend purchasing a prepaid international calling plan from your US service provider to allow you to make calls to the US when you arrive in London. You will need that eventually!

Having a data plan from your home country’s service provider will help you keep in contact with your family while you are waiting to buy a new SIM card in London.

Collage - Credit cards, buses, the tubes, and stations. How London!!

Caption: Credit cards, buses, and the tube.

5. Pack Outfit Essentials.

The rumor is true! Londoners really love wearing black and white clothes. Converse shoes (or your walking sneakers of choice) or black boots are favored here. You’ll also find people wearing blazers, dresses, and jeans, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in dressing like a Londoner!

Me and my outfit for “a roommate date” with my roommate-Cara in Chinatown

Caption: My outfit for “a roommate date” with my roommate, Cara, in Chinatown.

Dresses and Converse are life-savers! (Also this picture was from a Bath & Stonehenge trip!)

Caption: Dresses and Converse sneakers are my go-to! (This picture was from a Bath & Stonehenge trip!)

An outfit photo in London

Long coats and black backpacks are necessities!

Caption: Long coats and black backpacks are necessities!

6. Bring a Tote Bag or Buy One Here in London.

At stores in London, you have to pay for bags (even the plastic ones), unlike some places in the US. Having a tote bag and carrying it around with you when you go to the grocery store will save your money and allow you to easily carry your purchases home.

7. Double-check That You Have All of Your Important Items with You!

When you’re in London, be responsible for yourself and make sure to bring your wallet, keys, mask, and especially your Oyster card (London’t transit pass, provided to you by CAPA), anytime you leave the house!

Stay tuned to learn more about my experiences in London and to find out more tips!

Thanks, Chi!

Chi Vu

Chi Vu is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A business administration (marketing) and communication studies major at Augustana College, she is happy to be studying abroad in London this semester.

Chi's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: London, England, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations