Packing for study abroad

Things to Pack For Study Abroad – Shopping List

So, the other week, Chirag posted a nice little document for one of the University’s International Students community which documented a nice list of things to pack for study abroad before the students leave India. I thought, why not publish the same here and help other students going to different Universities in the US and other countries too!

While most of the Items remain same as on the list, you should adjust the things like Warm Clothes and Food depending on the place you are travelling to! So without much further Ado, here is a comprehensive post for Things to Pack for Study Abroad


Originally written by Chirag Sejpal

Things to do: Shopping in India – Fall 2016

Hi all,

It’s high time you should start shopping or at least make your list. It takes more than 1 month for shopping and packing and all. Just plan accordingly. Hope this helps. This list was made trying to make best use of money and some items have been omitted as we barely use them here. This document is huge and exhaustive. Please take print out and go for shopping and read it thoroughly. That’s what I did last year :P

First things first, you will need some suitcases to carry all your stuff. You will most likely have a student offer by which you will be able to carry 3 * 23 kgs plus cabin luggage. Ask the airlines for student offer. Most airlines allows 3 baggage for students. They’ll also allow cabin baggage as well as laptop backpack. Ask them and clarify before buying anything. The most preferred brands by students are :

  1. American Tourister (AT)
  2. VIP
  3. Samsonite

I bought AT. VIP is good too. Samsonite would be expensive. Go with tough ones but which are not that expensive as our luggage are handled roughly by airlines anyways. But don’t go with cheap ones. If your luggage breaks during handling at the airports, imagine the plight of all those stuff you would have kept inside!! :P


You will find that there are two types – hard and soft cases. You might be tempted to go for 2 soft and 1 hard suitcases but there is no inherent advantage of a hard case over a soft one. In fact, the hard gets scratched easily during handling. Stick to 3 soft cases. This baggage are weighed so it has to be 23 kgs. + 2 should be fine in most of the cases though. Total weight of 3 bags shouldn’t be more than 75 kgs or you will be charged. Go early for check in. They normally allow 75 kgs instead of 69 total if you go early but it all depends on the person checking you in.


For the cabin luggage, follow the airline rules and buy a new one/use old one if you already have one bag according to the dimensions specified! Cabin baggage is never weighed although the limit would be 7-8 kgs. I had 11 kgs but don’t make it 15 kgs :P


Note: Write down the address and phone number of your destination (in US) on all the check-in bags so that it would be easy to identify and get your luggage from the conveyor belt in the airport. Tie any specific color threads on the top of your bag to identify your bag. :)

Clothes and apparel

Don’t get too many t-shirts from India. Again, don’t get too few either. You won’t be washing your clothes for the first two weeks at least, so you need your clothes to last for at least two weeks. A general guideline for buying clothes:

  1. T-shirts (round neck) – 6-7
  2. T-shirts (collared) – 3-4
  3. Jeans (stick to blue/black) – 5-6
  4. Formal shirts – 2-3 (Don’t bring many. We rarely wear formal shirts mostly in career fair. Most of the tech companies here are fine with casual wear. If you need more during job/internship, you can buy here for almost same price as India!)
  5. Formal trousers – 2
  6. Undergarments/inners – at least 12-15 pairs (very important. You end up doing laundry once in 2 weeks so plan accordingly.)
  7. Formal suit – 1 (not mandatory at all. I bought but haven’t wore yet. Maybe you can just bring blazer :) )
  8. Ties – 2-3
  9. Shorts/three-fourths – 5-6
  10. Track pants – 2-3
  11. Swimming trunks – 1 (if you plan to swim after coming here)
  12. 2-3 traditional dress for festivals (very expensive here)


You will get a lot of t-shirts as freebies in many places in the university, hackathons, conferences etc.


  1. Towels (any kind, but I would prefer Turkish) – 3
  2. Hand towels – 3-4
  3. Leather belts – 1-2
  4. Belt for jeans – 1-2
  5. Formal leather shoes – 1 pair (You will need during career fair. Good ones. Cheap ones won’t survive here)
  6. Woodland all-weather shoes – 1 pair (not mandatory. You can get here)
  7. Sneakers (optional) – 1 pair
  8. Sports shoes (optional) – They are very cheap in the US. You will most probably have a pair already. Wear it and come. Wait till the black Friday sales where you will get awesome pairs of shoes for cheap.
  9. Sunglasses – 1 pair (any good brand is okay)
  10. Socks – 8-10 pairs (It should last 1.5-2 weeks. Mostly we do laundry every 2 weeks so ) 11. Sweater – 1-2 good warm ones
  11. A light jacket (optional) – You can get all weather jacket here! The weather is pleasant here! Most of the days would be 15-20! In summer it might go till 25-30! During winter, 10-12 rehta h! There are no heavy rains as such in India, so no rain coats needed ! Buy all weather jacket that’s it! And bring 1 umbrella
  12. A good umbrella (don’t get the cheapo ones, they can’t stand the wind)
  13. Handkerchiefs – 12 nos.
  14. Hawai slippers – 1 pair (for wearing inside the apartment)
  15. Flip-flops – 1 pair (for summer and spring)
  16. Bedsheets – 1-2 18. Blanket – 1 (optional you can get here for cheap in walmart and it ll require space so better buy it here. Instead get a nice shawl for initial week)
  17. Pillow covers – 2
  18. A good wallet (leather) – 1
  19. A wallet for passport
  20. Shoe polish – 1 (don’t get liquid, might spill during travel)
  21. Shoe polishing brush – 1 Note: It doesn’t snow in San Jose. So no need for any winter clothes!



Though most electronics are cheaper in the US, there are some stuff you may buy from India and come.


  1. External HDD (optional. get the portable one) – You might need this for bringing all those movies, music and files from back home. Any brand is fine.
  2. USB keyboard and mouse (optional you can get from amazon online here) – gamers might need this. Even otherwise, it is a good thing to have. Get Logitech/Microsoft/Samsung/Zebronics.
  3. If you already have a laptop, you may bring that. Even if it is quite old, use it till black friday. You will get super deals, both online and in-store.
  4. IPod/mp3 player (optional) – You might need this if you have to wait for long times at airports. Phones works fine too though! Else, get it in the US if you want.
  5. Digital Camera (optional)- Get it from India. It might be a little more expensive, but you will need it to record all those initial snaps in the US. If you have good phone, no need to bring camera! Preferred brands are Canon, Sony and Nikon. Don’t buy cameras that require AA batteries. Buy models with Li-ion batteries.
  6. A good pair of headphones with mic if you have. Or you can buy here
  7. 1 spike-buster/extension. (1 per room is fine) 8. Indian pin to US pin converters – 1-2. (very important)
  8. A scientific calculator (very important) Casio fx991MS or fx991ES – This is damn expensive in the US.
  9. A good branded, decent wrist watch if you already don’t have one.


Personal hygiene products

Most of the brands available in India are available in the US too.

However, you might need to bring the following items for your first few days of use.


  1. Tooth paste – one large tube. Brands also available in the US – Colgate, Close-Up, Pepsodent, Aquafresh
  2. Toothbrushes and tongue cleaner – 2-3
  3. Soap – 1-2 bars. Brands also available in the US – Dove, Palmolive and Pears. If you don’t use any of these brands, then better get used to them. No use bringing lots of soap bars from India.
  4. Shampoo – 1 bottle. Brands also available in the US – Head and Shoulders, Sunsilk, Dove, Pantene, Nizoral. Again, get used to any one of these brands.
  5. Shaving kit – It’s expensive here especially razors!
  6. Shaving foam (don’t buy cream) – 1 small can for initial use (You can get here Foam for cheap 1$ in Walmart which almost lasts 1 year lol)
  7. Cold cream – 1 bottle
  8. Vaseline – 1 bottle
  9. Good clean combs – 2-3
  10. Comb cleaner/old toothbrush for cleaning the combs.
  11. Soap cases – 1 (optional You can get here though)
  12. Hair oil – 2 bottles
  13. Deodorant – 1 can (for initial use)
  14. Nail cutter – 1
  15. Earbuds – 1 small pack (if you use)
  16. Sunscreen – 1 bottle
  17. Lip balm – 2 tubes



These are the most important things you need to carry from India. If you have already decided your roommates in India, then you will have the luxury of sharing/dividing items equally. All vessels should be flat bottomed, since in the US, most apartments use electric stoves. Try to bring all the utensils which can be used in Microwave and non stick. It will be useful. These may be the utensils you may want to carry with you:


  1. Pressure cooker – 1 5 ltr, 2-3 3 ltr (per house. divide among your roomies)
  2. Pressure pan – 1. As far as possible, get both the cooker and the pan from the same brand so that you can interchange the gaskets and the weights.
  3. Medium size kadai for cooking vegetables – 2-3 (divide among roomies)
  4. Serving spoons (of various sizes) – 3-4
  5. Plate – 1
  6. Kadai/Tea making utensil/for boiling milk/water – 1
  7. Knives – 3-4
  8. Vegetable chopping board – 2 (divide among roomies)
  9. Glass/Mug -1-2
  10. Spoons – 3-4
  11. Extra weights and gaskets for the cookers – 3
  12. Chapati roller – 1 (if you plan to make roti by yourself. Most of us cook rice, sabji and just use the frozen Kawaan rotis as we don’t have time to make rotis.)
  13. Butter knives – 1-2
  14. Forks – 2
  15. Kadai for making sambar/dal – 1
  16. Tea strainer – 1-2
  17. Water bottle (preferably Tupperware) – 1 (you will get tons of bottles for free here :P )
  18. Scotch brites – 2-3


Note: Form a group of 7-8 people you would be staying with and decide upon cooking utensils and share the items to be brought. It saves money and also ur luggage space.


Food items

  1. Ready-to-eat paste – 5-6 for initial use.
  2. Bring minimum 10-12 packets of Rasoi Magic/Suhana masala. You can use them during your exams. Its pretty easy to make and saves time during exams.
  3. Snacks, Sweets, namkeens, thepla, khakhra etc as much as you like for yourself as well as for seniors you need favors from lol
  4. All powders – chilli, garam masala, pavbhaji, cholle, rajma, rasam, sambar, asafoetida, turmeric, dhaniya, other powders you use – 0.5 to 1 kg each (Check due date. Get long expiry ones)
  5. All dals that you use in cooking – 2 kg each
  6. Papads – 2-3 packs
  7. Ginger-garlic paste – 2 bottles
  8. Rai – .5 kg


Note: Avoid any items which are white in color such as rice, sugar, salt etc. It can be compared with drugs so avoid that! You cannot bring rice, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, kadiipata and all! Don’t bring jeera. Not allowed in few airlines! Avoid pickles too!



Textbooks are very expensive in the US, so you might as well talk to your seniors in the university, and get the important textbooks from India. Only get those books you won’t be able to live without, since they might take much of your luggage allowance. Also, get those fundamental books for revision of concepts. For SE and CS, you don’t need any books. For interview preparation, CS/SE/CMPE students can bring Data Structures and Algorithms Made Easy by Narasimha Karumanchi. You can also bring Cracking the coding interview if you want. But at least bring made easy one! EE and other people, please ask seniors for any books you may need.


Stationery items

You will get a lot of stationery items free at various places in the university (career fairs, orientation, etc) so don’t bring too many stuff.


  1. Pens – 2-3
  2. Notebooks – 2-3
  3. Pencils – 3-4
  4. Erasers – 3
  5. Sharpeners – 3
  6. Key chains – 2
  7. Staple machine – 1
  8. Pins – 2 boxes
  9. Glue sticks – 2
  10. Markers – 2
  11. Highlighters – 1
  12. Small ruler – 1
  13. Phone book – 1. Keep all your friends’ and relatives’ phone numbers written inside before you leave if you are not bringing your phone. :P
  14. Cello tape – 1 roll



Important Medicines To Carry To USA

One of the important things while packing are medicines. It’s always good to carry all the medicines from India as Medications in USA are very costly and you don’t get medicines without prescription so. I would strongly recommend you to go to your family doctor and get prescriptions of all the medicines you would be requiring.


Here’s the list of important medicines that I strongly suggest you carry:

  • Crocin tablets (paracetamol 500 mg)- 3 strips For fever, body ache, and headache. One tablet three times a day as necessary. Above 60 kg please use 650 mg tablets (thermol/dolo). For fevers, mild pain relief Actifed tablets – 2 strips (side effect drowsiness) A costlier but much better alternative is Alerid (cetrizine) or Neoloridin(loridine)less sedation and next to no side effects
  • Azithromycin 500 mg tablets (aziwin) – 3 strips. One tablet once a day for at least 3 days …use if you have a bacterial cold or Respiratory infection … (most common symptom being dark yellow colored mucus, fever, etc.). NOT NEEDED FOR ordinary cold (white mucus, watery secretions)
  • Sporidex 500mg capsules – 2 strips. One tablet twice a day when necessary as advised (please don’t use on your own. This stuff needs a prescription to be used properly … meant only for persistent troublesome infections)
  • Avomine tablets – 1 strip for air/ motion sickness. One tablet as necessary.(causes drowsiness)
  • Lomotil/Andial tablets- 15 (for diarrhea) But remember the best treatment for diarrhea is plenty of fluids, some good rest and bland food.
  • Omeprazole 20 mg .For gastritis.Can be taken once or twice a day
  • Digene tablets- 20 mg. For stomach discomfort .One each three times a day.
  • Spasmoproxyvon capsules – 3 strips for abdominal colic pain, backache etc. One tablet every 6 hours or as necessary.
  • Domstal tablets – 10. For vomiting .Has to be taken at least half an hour before food
  • Electral powder – 2 packets. One teaspoonful mixed with drinks to make up loss of Electrolytes after vomiting & diarrhoea
  • Novalgin – 2 strips for headache & bodyache. One tablet as necessary.
  • Brufen 600mg tablets – 2 strips. For arthirtic joint pain. One tablet three times a day after food.
  • Avil Tablets – 1 strip for allergy (use cetrizine/loridin for less sedation), One tablet as necessary.
  • Relaxyl ointment – 1 tube to be applied as pain balm.
  • Band Aid assorted – 12
  • Soframycin skin ointment – 1 tube
  • Nimesulide tabs. For the severest of headaches and pains. (But banned in the US). 100mg upto 3 times a day
  • Ciplox capsules 500 mg. 2 strips.1 capsules twice a day. For Infective diarrheas
  • Vitamin B-complex capsules .Just in case your starving yourself out there


Note: Remember to have prescriptions with you for all the medicines you will be carrying to USA. There may be customs check in USA and you may have to present them appropriate prescriptions with doctors letter head for the medicines you have or else they would throw away. Above list of medicines is not exhaustive. Please consult with your family doc and you can have more/less number of medicines depending on what you would need.



Don’t procrastinate packing till the last moment as you won’t find time later, and in the tension you may miss out on some important things. Start packing early.


Few more tips

  1. Wearing shoes and a sweatshirt in the flight would make u feel comfortable
  2. Those who have glasses, get 2-3 extra coz the cost of glasses is very very expensive here (approx 100$).
  3. Have printout of your flight ticket. You need it to get a boarding pass. Check in online to get board early!
  4. Put All your original Certificates/Transcripts/documents needed in a folder. You have to show [i20, passport,] at immigration in US port of entry and also in Indian airport port of departure. Put this in your cabin luggage or laptop backpack
  5. Have some 100$ [1,2,5, 10,20 $ bills good to have some cash on you, for emergency purposes]
  6. Get a prepaid/forex card from India, in which your parents can load the money and you can use it here. Wire transfer would cost some 15-17$ every time. SO getting a prepaid card is better. (Have already mentioned this in FAQ document): $500 cash is more than enough. You don’t need that much but it’s better to have if there’s any emergency. Split those $500 in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills as you might need change at airport.
    Get a travel/forex card and have $1000-2000 in them depending on how much you need for first 3-4 months. I would recommend taking a forex card from nationalized bank such as SBI, HDFC, Axis etc. as these forex card can directly be swiped in “Chase” bank for free if you have an account in Chase and it’s free for students to open account. If you have normal forex card such as Thomas cook it won’t work in Chase and it costs approx. 5$ (3$ for the bank and 2$ is charged by Thomas cook) per transaction and you can take out only $900/transaction. So choice is yours.  
  7. Do you have a working good laptop and mobile? or do you have plans of buying it here? If so, put some extra $ money for that. Optional – Hard drives / USBs. Copy all the movies, personal files etc into a hard disc and bring it if you are planning to buy a laptop here.
  8. All valuables like gold, cash, electronics, certificates, every valuable SHOULD be in your HAND BAGGAGE ONLY and NOT IN CHECK-IN BAGS.
  9. Go to a Doctor for General checkup, Eye checkup, and Dental checkup. You have normal health insurance. It doesn’t cover your teeth and eyes. So if something happens you end up paying in multiples of 100$ from your pocket.
  10. DONT spend money in buying something because you feel like buying and DON’T buy any expensive clothes. DON’T get any expensive jewelry except a simple chain or ring for hand. Don’t waste your valuable money and space in the check-in bags with items which you rarely use or do not use at all.
  11. Do not keep any pointed thing like needle, scissor and other medicines in hand luggage. Only the medicine that u might need during travel, you can keep it in your hand baggage or with u and have a separate Doctor’s prescription for it.
  12. For temporary accommodations if you happen to stay at places where the seniors are involved in some network marketing business like Amway or so, then avoid going with them and find a new accommodation as soon as possible. You are here to do Masters degree and not such unnecessary things that diverts your aim. If you have good grades and acquire good talent then you will definitely be placed in some good companies with good pay where you will not need to do such side businesses for extra income.


More tips from the President – Druven Mehta


1) Use this list a reference list and not a to-do list! Create your own to-do list based on your needs and priorities.

2) Don’t spend too much on the bags you’re going to use them once or twice a year at max. 3) Don’t spend too much on clothing.. They’ll eventually shrink in sometime and you’ll have to buy new ones from here (Plus you get better clothes here)

4) Most imp: Try to get the homemade food/snacks etc. whatever you love in huge quantities because you’ll get everything here except that and trust me you’ll regret not packing that ‘extra box of kachoris’ over that extra pair of Denims.

5) Don’t bother getting the all weather jackets from India they won’t be as effective as the ones you get here. Just get a normal jacket to get you through till you buy one from here.

6) Prioritize your needs from the list and then start packing.. If you pack less important stuff at the bottom, and if suppose you need to remove it at the end you’ll have to repack the whole bag. (My personal experience)

7) Get more instant food packets, theplas, parathas etc. for the initial days because you won’t start cooking right away.

8) Carry some food in your backpack while you board the flight. If you don’t like the airline food or you made a mistake while selecting your meal preferences, you won’t have to stay hungry or just eat fruits. (It’s going to be long flight and you’ll get hungry a lot)

9) Again.. Get the food you love whether homemade or outside in large quantities because you’ll miss that the most.. Plus you can always use it as a bribe or a way to thank someone who has helped you out.. (Hope you all take the hint.. Just kidding)!


PS: This is compilation from different sources I collected last year and credit to those who have written all of this. I have changed many things and removed few things which are not needed! :)

Enjoy your days with your family and friends. As usual, share it with your friends. Let me know if you need anything else. We are here to help :)

Chirag Sejpal

Vice President, 2016-17



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