My pack list for the United States
Report by Theresa B.
Before you’re leaving your home country to move to the US for your exchange semester, it is wise to think of the things you want to take with you. A pack list might help you to get everything sorted out.You can save a lot of money if you pack your luggage wisely: bring only the things you need and leave everything else at home!
As it’s getting closer to your departure date there might arise a few questions if it comes to packing: At the beginning, you may wonder which luggage item you should take for your travels. Be aware of the restrictions of your airline and pay attention on how many kilograms you are allowed to take with you. Depending on the type of person, you might even need an extra luggage (most airlines allow not more than 23 Kilos which is not that much!), so maybe it’s worth thinking about adding extra baggage – so you can take more things with you that you don’t need to buy in the US anymore.
Bring useful things
First of all it is important to remember that you’re going to study here. So if you’re just thinking of taking all your nice swimsuits and summer dresses with you, don’t forget to add the useful stuff for school such as a writing pad, a calculator, pens and definitely your laptop to your pack list. Think of all these necessary things you have at home – it is easier to bring them than buying everything new once you have arrived in the States.
It could also be a good idea to bring important things you sometimes need at home – like a tape, some elastic bands or scissors.
Depending on the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring and if you have purchased a second luggage or not, it could be easier to bring towels and bed sheets as well. If you haven’t done so, go to IKEA or Target to get some – these are the cheapest places to buy stuff like this in California.
German cosmetic products are mostly cheaper than Americans
For your personal belongings I would recommend you to bring most of your cosmetic or hygienic products with you from Germany. Not only because you know what you like to have and you are used to them, but also because most cosmetic products are more expensive in the US than they are in Germany. (You don’t want to end up paying twice or even three times the price for a deodorant or a hairspray than you would back home.) Of course you will need to replace your products as time goes by but for the beginning you might be happy to have everything you need with you.
In addition, it is useful to bring power strips and multiple sockets so you can charge some of your electronic devices at the same time. Of course you will need an American adapter to plug into the outcome, I recommend you to buy one or two before you leave. But – one thing you should think of before you put all your electronic devices such as a hair dryer or an electronic toothbrush into your suitcase – keep in mind that the American power network works different than the German one does!
So not only do you need to have a different plug in adapter, you also need to know which of your devices will work here and which won’t. Because the standard household electrical outlet in most of Europe – including Germany, Austria and Switzerland – packs a wallop of 220-240 volts, which is twice as much as the standard household voltage in North America.
So while most laptop computers, tablets, cell phones and camera battery chargers from Europe are dual voltage, meaning they will also work on 110 volts, most of the hair dryers, hair straighteners or electric toothbrushes won’t work with only 110 volts. To find out whether your electronic device is dual voltage or not, you will need to read the tiny words written on the bottom of your device or charger. If your device is dual voltage, you will see something like “Input 100 – 240V”. I recommend you to bring only the devices where it says “Input 100 – 240 V”. Otherwise, if you’re trying to dry your hair with one of these German hairdryers (which says only “220-240 volts”) in the US, it will take you a few hours to dry your hair, so you rather leave it at home and buy a new one in the US.
Not too many but also warm clothes
As you might have heard already, the United States are known for good deals and great outlet factories when it comes to clothing. So don’t bring too many clothes as you will surely buy some while you’re here. But when it comes to packing, don’t make the mistake to only bring hot summer clothes – it is getting cold at night especially if you stay in San Diego between October and April.
You can see that, in conclusion, it really makes sense to think about the things you want to add to your pack list well in advance. Packing only the things you really need makes you save a lot of money and also avoids frustration after you arrived. I’m sure you can imagine that I was a little annoyed when I found out that my hair dryer wouldn’t work in the United States – so don’t make the same mistake and better leave it at home from the beginning! 😉