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What to Pack When Going to Medical School

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Serena, a third year studying for a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at UCLan shares her tips for starting medical school in the UK.

Whether you’re just finishing up a foundation year or flying straight to university from your home country, the weeks before the start of term can be quite hectic.  From getting a phone contract to setting up a new bank account, there’s so much to sort out before the first day, so I’ve compiled a list of essentials you’ll need to pack before term starts to help you prepare.

Get all the paperwork out of the way

Make sure you sort out your visa and any insurance you may need to buy while studying overseas. You’ll also want to ensure your passport is still valid and remember to bring a driver’s licence or other form of identification as you won’t want to solely rely on your passport in your day to day life.  

Don’t buy your textbooks before you get to the UK

Your textbooks will be so heavy that it’s not worth wasting your luggage allowance on them. Also, remember you’ll save so much money if you buy second-hand books on Ebay or Amazon.

Buy all your homewares and toiletries in the UK too

In terms of everyday items you need while at university, halls generally always come furnished with all the basic essentials, like a bed and desk, but you might want to buy your own toiletries and homewares, including hangers, a wok, a warm duvet to curl into in winter, pillows, bed linen, towels, cutlery, crockery and pans. Again, I would advise against buying all that stuff in your home country because of your limited luggage allowance, and it might be worth waiting to buy some things until you’ve arrived at uni and can see what’s provided by your halls.

Pack non-perishable foods from home for when you feel homesick

Preston, where UCLan is based, has many places to shop, but I’m pretty sure that wherever you end up studying in the UK, you’ll find there’s a lot of choice. So make sure you save your precious luggage allowance for all your clothes as well as things you won’t be able to find here, like non-perishable foods (i.e. cereal, dried pasta, snacks) that you think you might miss. Souvenirs and photos from your life back home are another fantastic cure for homesickness. Use these to decorate your room and make it a little homier.

Wellies are pointless, but scarves and gloves are essential

It can be hard to buy winter clothes for the first time if you’re used to living in hotter climates and have no idea how to dress for cold weather. The key to staying warm is to make sure all your extremities are covered up (head, hands and feet). Wellies aren’t really necessary, but a good pair of leather boots will go a long way toward keeping you warm. If you’re not one for hats, buy a coat with a hood, and, if you’re particularly susceptible to cold, you might want to invest in heat-tech tights, leggings, shirts and socks. Also, depending on which uni you go to, you may want to buy a blazer (and smart clothes). Like most medical programs, UCLan’s MBBS course has a strict dress code in place due to the professional nature of the program.

Invest in a laptop, printer and a couple of adaptors  

You’ll also want to invest in your own laptop, as even if your university has a 24-hour library (like UCLan) with computer suites, you’re probably going to want a laptop of your own so you can work on your assignments in bed, Skype your best friends and watch Netflix.

I’d also recommend investing in a printer as this can be really useful for printing notes or gig tickets at the last minute. Don’t forget to pack a few adaptors, or get some at duty free at the airport. Remember, plugs in the UK have three pins, and electricals will only work at 230V AC, so you might want to make sure all your electricals (hair dryer, laptop etc) can work here.

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