What to pack (and NOT to) for university exchange trip! - Singapore Version

Time really passes so quickly, it's been 4 months since I left Singapore. Almost feels like i...

Time really passes so quickly, it's been 4 months since I left Singapore. Almost feels like it was only yesterday I arrived at my student apartment. By the way, did I mention how much I love this cozy little room, equipped with its own mini kitchen, mini fridge and even a toilet? I feel so self-sustainable and I can make do with not leaving the room for a few days when I prepare for my exams.

Truth is, it's almost time I'm leaving this place, and the next batch of students are going to embark on their university exchange soon. I recalled that I had so many questions and doubts about my exchange before I left, with one of the biggest question being: What do I pack for a 5 months trip? 

So I went to my friends who were already there at their university exchange country. Some couldn't tell me what exactly to bring, while some advised me some life-saving items to bring. Interesting enough, I've also received a message from an NTU guy who has been reading my blog, and he requested that I do up a post on the things to bring for university exchange because he as well is clueless of what to bring. Which I thought is an absolutely great idea! I've wanted to do up this post long ago but the lazy bug in me is the main culprit behind my procrastination. I'm taking a break from my examination preparation and so, let the list begin!

The paranoid syndrome - preparing too many things to pack 

10 Life-saving items you should bring: 

1. Hard-disk & thumb-drive 
You think you won't need a hard-disk, but who knows if your laptop will fail you within this 5 months period? My laptop died twice and there was once I had to back-up my laptop and do a thorough clean-up.

2. Lan cable & Router
Many places do not have wifi. If you're staying in a student apartment, they usually use lan cable and that's when you need to have a lan cable. I didn't have one and I have to resort to buying one. If you're using a macbook air (like me), you need an additional USB-lan cable adaptor. Luckily, macbooks have this function to create wifi, so I can connect my other devices to the wifi from my macbook. If not, bring a router for windows laptops.

3. Travel adaptor & Extension cord 
Travel adaptor is a thing to bring that goes without saying. But an extension cord is useful so that you don't have to bring many travel adaptors. Many of us also have too many devices to charge: Laptop, camera, phone, portable charger. Also, there may not be too many electrical plug for you to use, so bring an extension cord.

4. Photocopies of important documents
One of my friend suggested putting these documents at different places so that if you lose one, you have a back up. So it's like a back up of a back up. Anyway, try to have 2 sets of photocopies, and leave one set at home so that your family back home can help you report any losses.

5. Some cash (I brought SGD3000 cash)  
Cash is important because you don't usually find ATM as common as those in Singapore. A rough amount to bring is about 2000-3000 worth of Singapore dollars, and of course in the local country's currency.

6. Bicycle chain lock (or just simple locks)
Bicycle chain locks for locking your bag in long-ride trains. Else, a small simple lock is good enough to lock your bags.

7. Small sling bags, dummy wallet or money belt
Very important to guard against pickpockets. Pickpockets are rampant in cities like Rome and Paris. I think a plausible reason why I'm lucky enough not to have my stuff stolen is because I kept all my things in a sling bag and always have it in front of me. Dummy wallet and money belts are useful too, but I ended up not using my money belt since I think putting the sling bag in front of me is good enough (and safe enough).

8. Cheat-code condiments pack/condiments
Very useful for cooking meals! Enough said.

9. Moisturiser (because they are very expensive in Europe) 
Don't underestimate moisturisers, especially during winter. You probably have not heard cold rash, because we Singaporeans will never have such a problem. But speaking from my experience, I had such painful cold cash during winter time that I was itching everywhere! It's really painful and uncomfortable, so get your moisturiser ready.

10. Mini Rice Cooker 
My life-saver. I used it for almost all my meals. Good for heating up my left-over food too! I'm not the only one who have this. Many of my friends who brought this along thought it's one of the best items they had.

Most people go with one luggage of 30kg. I went with two 23kg because of STA Promotion. It depends on your airline promotion. 

You can find some other miscellaneous items to pack in my Short trip packing list post. 
But here's a few more that I thought would be good to have.

Food that I cooked using ingredients which can be commonly found in the supermarkets

A lot of us claim that we will miss Singaporean food very much. Personally speaking, I didn't quite miss those food (not until when I start typing about them sigh). I'm writing this list of items that are usually hard to find in local Asian Markets. But don't forget, European cities usually have Asian Marts and you can always find many asian condiments like soy sauce. Lastly, do not bring too much... because speaking from personal experience, I can hardly finish my pre-mixes. Trying to finish them for my last month here, which is weird because I'll be eating Singapore food in one month's time! 

Soy sauce (small bottle is enough)
Oyster sauce
Chicken Rice pre-mix
Ikan Billies (super ex here in Europe) (Great ingredient for soup)
Chicken/fish/pork stock (in dry cubes)
Laksa/Spicy magi mee (because there's no such thing as CHILLI in Europe!)
Bah Kut Teh pre-mix (super easy to make)
Nestle MILO (I hardly see this in Asian marts, if not it'll be super ex)
3 in 1 coffee mix (because European's coffee mix is totally different from Asian's)

Old clothes (where you can throw away and buy new ones!)
3 - 4 pairs of jeans (are usually more than enough)
Few pairs of shorts (for summer)
Both summer and winter tops
Jackets (for the specific weather of the country you're heading to)
Hanger pegs (NO student hostels will provide such trivial stuff)
A pair of comfortable shoes
Thermal wear for cold weather
Towel (I use a small towel and it survived me throughout 5 months, good for travelling too)

Misc items
Toiletries (those specific cleansers that you can't live without)
A cap or umbrella
Optical mouse (if you're used to using one)
Raffia strings
Ziplock bags (for efficient packing)
Plastic bags (because Europe supermarkets DO NOT provide plastic bags for free)
Chargers (of course)
Full set of stationeries (a pen in europe costs 4euros, freaking hell!?)
A sleeping bag

Bedsheets/Pillow covers
Too many clothes (buy there)
Too many condiments

REMEMBER: Anything that can be bought in local stores, is not a big problem anymore. 

Hope this is helpful! If you still don't know what else to bring, or you think there's more to add, please leave a comment! Let's help the next batch of exchange students enjoy their exchange.

This post is also possible thanks to all my helpful friends who contributed to my facebook post. Thank you guys :)

Grotto tour at Lagos! 

Camel selfie at the Sahara Dessert!

Thanks for reading! ❤
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