The first week(s) can be scary. Even if you think you have it all planned out there still is a lot on the to-do list. I gathered 8 objects or tips that may help you survive your first week far away from home.
- Suitcase organizer or packing cubes
Throughout the trip across the pond and in the first days here they truly saved my life. They seem to be en vogue right now an amazon.com lists close to 4,000 articles. I went with 2 quite simple sets from Ikea and they did a good job. It is quite likely, that you will not move into your room, apartment, or dorm room right after arriving in your new place. And neither did I. I spent the first four nights with an amazing family and obviously I did not unpack my suitcases into the dressers and closets of their guest rooms. So picking out outfits beforehand and packing them in a cube comes quite handy. I would recommend putting the cube into your carry-on. Who knows were your checked baggage may end up.
- Use University resources
You are not the first international student coming to that town and you will not be the last. So most universities have a network of volunteers or peers to help you out. Contact the international office of your university abroad. They will be more than happy to provide you with the contact information. I was happy to find out that my university has an ISI chapter. Through them I met a great family that picked me up at the airport and let me stay with them for the first days. Most organizations or international office will have a handbook that gives you a lot of information about the campus and/or the life in the country.
The organization also put me in contact with volunteers that took me around town to look at apartments etc. Most university newspapers have a classified section. Make sure to check out those as well. That is where I found my apartment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask
As mentioned before, you are not the first international student so most likely you are not the first person who is dealing with said issue. Ask people for help or for information. Nothing is worse than ending up in a part of town where you do not want to step outside at night.
- Be organized
You are still living out of your suitcase, need to get things done but can’t find that one letter or remember that one phone number. In the first days it is crucial to have your things together and there are two things that definitely helped me. On one hand a simple notebook.
It is small enough to fit into any handbag or backpack and you have all the information at hand you may need. Sure your phone has a contact folder and a note function but a small notebook and a pen in hand proved to be super helpful.
My second little helper is a binder.
In there I have relevant copies, confirmations, statements, etc. all the things you need to get settled. Having them in one place like this makes it easy and cuts out the stress of looking for that one letter that must be somewhere right about here.
- Passport sleeve
US immigration law – and I’m sure it’s not much different in other countries – says that you have to have a proof of identity with you at any time. So unless you are citizen of the country that you are spending the year at, or have a driver’s license from said country, your passport will spend a lot of time in your handbag, backpack, or similar. So it makes sense to get yourself a passport sleeve. Again amazon has thousands in different styles, qualities, and prices. But they definitely come in handy.
- Multi plug
You probably will bring more chargers than you can buy adapters to convert your plug into what is needed in your new country.
Toss a good ol’ multi plug into your suitcase and you will only need one adapter for a bunch of chargers or other electronic devices.
- App/ Calculator
A country that isn’t the one you grew up in may use other system to measure distances, temperature or masses. So make sure to download an app or bring your good old calculator. I could not find an app that made me happy but the calculator I’ve been using for the past 4 years is able to convert many different things.
So check if yours may be a help too. It definitely was helpful when I tried to set my AC but wasn’t quite sure which temp to choose.and finally
- Be open-minded
You may meet some strange people and you may not be in a perfect place right away. But every experience that on first glance appears bad, makes you grow as a person. Say yes to think that seem weird. I spent one afternoon driving around town with a guy from the organization and helped him getting stuff done. I had nothing to do anyways and was waiting for time to pass so I could move into my place. Now I know how to fix a swamp cooler and he helped me get some furniture and a mattress. Because at the end of the day it is always good to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows.
I hope some of the tips can help so leave a like, comment below, or share 🙂