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Top of Lanyon building with blue sky

Top 10 things a North American student should bring to the UK


Going to uni for the first time or moving abroad can be pretty exciting, and sometimes stressful if you aren't prepared. Lucky for you, you’ve got someone who’s already gone through the TSA process and single cabin luggage packing challenges.

My "top 10 things..." list tell you how to pack and plan ahead. So here’s 10 things North Americans should bring to university in the UK:


#1 – Universal Power Adapter

You need to invest in a heavy-duty universal adapter, about £15-20. This will power high-voltage electronics, like hairdryers and alarm-clocks.

If it looks like the one on the right you've got the wrong one!

Buy a UK adapter plug for your laptop, smartphone or tablet online straight away. Remember: it’s the three-thin pin plugs, NOT the three round European ones.

#2 - Portable Chargers

Nothing sucks more than your phone dying while snapping your storyline. Get a portable charger small enough to toss in your purse or tuck in your pocket to charge your phone or tablet. Make sure it uses a USB wire so you can charge it on-the-go with your smartphone plug.

 #3 - Camera

And If your phone and portable charger dies, have a point-and-shoot ready. Or invest in a DSLR to capture those precious moments with wide-angles of the Lanyon building and Belfast city. 


You'll have plenty of interesting scenery to photograph in Belfast, including Queens' iconic Lanyon Building

Make sure you get a UK charger. Even a heavy-duty universal adapter won’t charge Canon EOS Rebel batteries. Don’t skimp either on risky knockoff brands, get your camera’s certified brand’s charger on Amazon.

#4 - Seasonable Boots

Wear your heavy seasonable footwear onboard your flight to save luggage room. You’ll need to hit the ground running with these as soon as you touch down. Yes. I know. You want to bring your cute Hunters and Uggs booties.

Sturdy boots are a worthwhile investment

But truth is, Hunters are overkill and Uggs are impractical for the elements. Bring Blunderstones or Timbs. Anything with waterproof and winterized shell. Removable inner sheering is a plus. 

#5 - Rain Apparel

Leave the Canada Goose down jackets behind. Think Columbia and NorthFace. Last time Belfast snowed was five years ago. And it was only sprinkles with temperatures in the tweens. Belfast has three seasons, in one day; rain, sun, and wind. Bring something versatile to protect you from these elements.

Make sure you can easily remove it, wrap around you, or put in your backpack. Small umbrella with a portable sheath if you can get your hands on one.

#6 – ID

You’re not getting into Ollies or Alibi nightclubs with your squad without a valid government ID. (i.e. Passport, driver’s license, health card etc.)

Bring one or two pieces of IDs, not including your passport. You will also need it for university registration, along with your diploma and transcripts.

#7- Cash

Cash is king. Exchange your currency back home, and carry it in a secure, separate place in envelopes inside your carry-on and wallet. Make sure it’s British Pounds sterling NOT Euros!

If you're travelling via England make sure you have Bank of England notes as they won't accept other bank notes

If you’re moving into Elm’s village, (Queen's student accommodation), bring minimum £4K if you’re paying in three installments. Get a Top-Up UK credit card ASAP, otherwise you can’t buy apps, like Spotify online.

#8 - Bank Letter

Something many people overlook. You CANNOT pay tuition unless you have a UK bank account. Go to your North American bank branch and get an officially stamped, original, physical letter with your bank name, branch, personal account number etc. Open a UK account on campus with Ulster, Santander or Bank of Ireland banks.

Note: appointments and financial screening takes up to a week or more. Get your paperwork started right away.

#9 - Hygienic and cleaning products

I suggest packing your favorite brands now; the products on offer in Belfast aren't the same as back home. In particular I found it hard to get hold of more eco friendly products;  I literally ordered my aluminum-free deodorant over Amazon. But you won’t find everything on the UK listings so bring some now, get your friends or fam to bring you more later when they visit.

#10 – Bags

If you were told not to buy school supplies until you’re here, it’s good advice. But one thing you should get before arriving is a backpack, a couple of tote bags for light urban exploring, or a purse. Also, a gym bag for going to the PEC - the university gym.

Trent Lee

LLB Law | 1st Year | Montréal, Québec, Canada

Hey I’m a self-imposed exile blogger from Canada covering mostly arts, culture, fashion, and politics. I now study law at Queen’s after reading Aristotle’s Republic and Cicero’s De Officiis in high school. 

I enjoy writing, photography, travel, hiking, outdoor EDM parties and the occasional protest. My life philosophy is ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst.'

Follow me on Snapchat and Instagram @trentslee.

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