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What To Bring To College As A First-Year International Student 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Dear college freshmen, 

Your first big realization will be that home is far. Whether it’s a 30-minute drive, a 4-hour train ride, or a 14-hour flight — home is far because your new life is close. While for some, that’s exciting, for others it’s a looming dread. This transition can be challenging, especially when you’re continents away from a life you know and love. I am an international student from Singapore and, I, too, like many of you, had to pack my bags and to try and figure out how to make a strange new place a home away from home. Given that it takes me give or take 24 hours to fly back home, I packed wisely – and I will help you pack even better.


I know we have phones and iCloud accounts and memories in our hearts, but my favorite part of my room is my wall, stacked with pictures of the places I love, the food I miss, and the people I care about. While you build something new, don’t forget to cherish the old. Pictures, postcards, and mementos are a perfect way to do that.

Dorm Room Spotify Polaroid Decorations
Original photo by Ashley Duong
Your favorite snacks, obviously

When I first moved to college, I was inundated with all the options of food and snacks I had never tried and went crazy trying it all! But, I wanted nothing more than my mum’s tomato soup the first time I was sick. Another day, I was craving the spicy Indian food made by my grandmother, the granola we always had at home, and the pineapple tarts I ate around Chinese New Year. Some things cannot be brought across continents, but this semester, I brought a few of my favorite flavors that reminded me of home, and I urge you to do the same.

Knick-knacks and trinkets

Decorating a new room can be very exciting, but sleeping on unfamiliar sheets and waking up to see the typical college dorm furniture can also feel a little weird. I recommend bringing a few small things to make your room feel more like it did at home. Whether that’s an object from your travels or a token you received at graduation, bring the little things that make you, you. And, when people come to your room, they make for great stories! 

Cozy things that make you comfortable

This piece of advice may seem a little silly because you can easily buy whatever you may need here, but I definitely don’t regret bringing my favorite blanket, the pillow case I have used for years, and more than one stuffed animal (they’re sentimental!). If, like me, it’s your first time adjusting to the cold, you may want to feel cozy and protected with items that are familiar to you. And like everything else on this list, they will always remind you of home. 


This may differ based on where you call home, but I grew up on homeopathy and herbal medicine, and bringing it with me made me feel far more secure when I felt sick. There are so many minor adjustments people don’t talk about like how the names of medications in different countries vary, and when you’re sick, you will not want to figure out the difference between Advil, Tylenol, Crocin, and Panadol (trust me, I’ve done it). 

This list is not comprehensive, coming from someone who packed about three suitcases. But, it’s a starting point to get you comfortable enough to begin packing, and I hope it reminds you that you are not alone.

BU is special for how much it celebrates international students, and throughout your time here I hope you find communities and people who remind you that your voice and experiences are important!

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Hi. My name is Anaya Williams and I am from Singapore. I am an Advertising Major at BU.