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Preparing for Life Abroad

With both you and your daughter caught up in the excitement of the new life ahead, it is very tempting want to want to send ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ with her. After all, she will be busy and disoriented while adjusting to a new way of  life, and you want to make it as easy and familiar for her as you can. However, remember that for the first year at    least, your child will be sharing a dorm room with another student, and space will be very, very limited. Secondly, in today’s global village, almost everything she needs, even India-specific stuff, is quite easily available on campus or a short distance off it. And third, the weather, the college culture, the fashions and so forth will dictate to a large extent what a student will really need at least for her first year at university.

Hence, we suggest that you equip her with just the bare minimum stuff required to tide her through the first three-four months of her stay there. Here is a short list of what you maybe want to send with her, and what to buy for the dorm stay when you first reach the campus:

  • Casual clothing like jeans, tee-shirts and tops, sandals, sneakers, a sweater, and of course, undergarments. Most college campuses are very casual, but you may want to pack one or two formal/Indian clothes, if practical, for international student events.
  • Small toiletries to tide over the first few weeks, and familiar medication for colds,  sore throat and such other common ailments.
  • Small mementoes of home – photographs, posters, souvenirs etc.
  • Camera, laptop, mp3 player, alarm clock (until she gets used to her new cell phone!) and other small electronic items, along with an adapter/converter.


There are usually at least a couple of stores in or around campus where most essential items  can be found. It is also

wiser to buy bed linens and any other additional items such as plastic shelves and table lamps locally, as these are usually tailored to the needs of the students and the country. For example, US dorm beds are unusually long, for some reason, so it makes sense to buy the bed linen in the US after you reach the dorm. Mini fridges and microwave ovens are not very expensive, and dorm-sized appliances can help your child make breakfast (cereal and milk, bread and jam sandwiches, microwaveable dinners) to tide over the times she might sleep in and miss meal times in the cafeteria. Nowadays, with internet shopping getting so much easier, many colleges send you a list of standard things your child  will need for her dorm room, and these can be paid for online and delivered directly to the dorm. Additionally, most campuses schedule shopping trips during the first couple of weeks of school to help shop for and assemble the stuff she needs for her dorm.


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