The struggle of packing under weight restrictions – a personal reflection plus tips!

With the academic semester coming to an end, it’s easy to feel nostalgic about the year. It’s hard to believe that in around 4 months, my academic journey at Surrey will be over, hoping my dissertation goes well. I’ve been looking around my room, feeling a little anxiety about the thought of having to pack up what seems like an accumulation of a lifetime of stuff. It’s taken me back to September 2022, sitting in my room in Maldives, trying to decide how exactly I can pack up my life and move to the UK.

My student visa to the UK got approved at the last minute, giving me limited time to pack up my suitcases. Additionally, due to flight restrictions, I only got 25 kg as flight baggage. As someone who’s been a hoarder for a majority of her life, the process of deciding what to take was extremely difficult for me. So, I thought I could offer some advice to anyone in the same situation. Now I know, there’s a million lists out there of what to pack for when you’re moving for uni. But I thought my experience and advice may be useful, as there isn’t much help for packing in restricted situations such as mine.

Now I love cooking, and back home I had gotten accustomed to a set of my favourite cooking appliances as well as utilities.  While I knew I couldn’t take my huge air fryer with me, I really had a dilemma with little kitchen tidbits. I chose not to bring any of my little favourite kitchen bits like my favourite silicone spatula or my bag clips and silicone lid covers, because of baggage weight restrictions. Looking back now, a part of me wishes I had brought some of these. I assumed I could come to the UK and just buy some of these, but now that I’m here and looking at some of the prices here, I wish I had brought some of my lighter pieces with me.

Basic medicine and first aid is another thing I would highly recommend bringing with you. You never know when you’ll get ill, or an accident is going to happen. It’s better to be prepared for such circumstances, especially having to figure out the systems for getting medicine in a foreign country might be difficult to figure out initially. While I limited myself to the amount of clothes and personal items I brought, I made sure to have a comprehensive fully packed first aid kit.

As a Muslim, my prayer mat is something I’m very attached to. However, it is also heavy and takes up a lot of space. Choosing to leave it behind was difficult, however I was grateful to have a little pocket portable prayer mat I could bring with me. If you don’t have one, don’t despair, there’s loads of affordable ones on Amazon you could order as well.

Moving to another country for your studies is super exciting, but it is important to acknowledge that it can also be very cumbersome and challenging as well. It involves lots of planning, prioritising and compromising, even from the get-go of packing your bags to move, as was in my case. Sure, I didn’t get to bring all my clothes or shoes, it’s okay though because the thrift shopping in UK is awesome. Maybe I didn’t get to bring my trusty stand-mixer with me, but it also gave me the opportunity to try new appliances and ways of cooking and baking as well. What is studying abroad if not trying out new things after all. It’s important to remember that moving to a new country is an opportunity for a fresh start. By packing efficiently and thoughtfully, you can embrace the adventure with a lighter load and the excitement of new experiences ahead.

Photo from my flight – the journey from Male’ to London

Thanks for reading and I hope some of these tips come in useful!