I spent a term in Oxford in fall 2010, and I absolutely loved it! For my trip, I managed to pack in one large suitcase, one carry-on suitcase, and a backpack, though I do recommend bringing an extra duffel for anything you buy so that you don’t have to pay overweight baggage charges. My school had its own house, so I couldn’t say what’s provided if you stay in the Oxford colleges in terms of sheets, towels, etc. But I do have some insight into what to bring to enjoy the fall and start of winter in the Oxford area.
Oxford students dressed much less casually than students at my university. I dressed the same way I usually do, but know that you might feel underdressed and might want to look at little more polished than you’re used to for a day in the library.
Lots and lots of leggings and tights – it’s going to get pretty bitter by the end!
2 pairs of jeans – I wore mine a lot, with tights under them when it got really cold.
1 or 2 long-sleeved tunics are very versatile. They can be worn over jeans or leggings or tights, and layered with v-necks, tanks, or other long sleeves.
2 or 3 thick, comfortable sweaters are great. Dress them up with leggings and boots or be casual with jeans, and they keep you warm!
2 or 3 v-necks or other t-shirts you can layer – if you travel someplace warmer, or are inside, you’ll want some short sleeved shirts, and they’re also great for layering.
A cardigan – again, great for layering! Basic black is always a good call.
1 or 2 dresses – great to wear on a daily basis with casual leggings, and also good for dressing up if you’re attending formal hall at your college and don’t have robes.
Underwear – how many you bring depends on how often you want to be doing laundry. I brought 14 pairs so that I had the option to wash less frequently than I usually do.
Bras – similar to underwear, it’s up to you based on how often you wear bras before washing.
Several pairs of socks – including thick socks for the cold. Bring a pair of tall boot socks for some style!
I’d recommend getting some waterproofing spray for all of your shoes so none get ruined in the rain (which there will be a lot of!)
Comfortable walking shoes/running shoes – if you plan to work out or join any sort of sports team for your College or the Blues
Flat boots – they look great, keep your legs warm, and are comfy to walk in!
A pair of dressy shoes – I was told not to bring heels, and while the cobblestones are plentiful, I did wish I had a pair sometimes. I’d recommend one pair of basic heels, or some dressy flats (not sandals!)
A few pairs of colorful, comfortable flats – a good way to dress up an outfit, and to add a splash of color if you’re mainly bringing neutral clothes to save space.
2 pairs of tall boots – I recommend gray and black so that you can match everything, or black and a colorful pair. Great over jeans, leggings, and tights and they’ll keep you warm, especially with a pair of boot socks!
You can buy toiletries all over the place, but if there’s something in particular you love I would recommend bringing it with you, since you can’t guarantee you can buy it in Oxford and it might be more expensive than you’re used to.
All your prescriptions – for a short time, it’s easier than trying to find the equivalents.
Deodorant – I find European deodorant tends to be either a liquid roll on or a spray on, neither of which I am a fan of…
Protection from the elements:
Raincoat – This is crucial. Not only for when it rains, but also to protect you from the wind. Get one with a hood for maximum protection. I have a raincoat that zips onto a coat shell, which I found very useful – you can wear either one separately but together they were great for cold, rainy days.
Warm coat – I loved the shell that goes with my raincoat, but I also had a pea coat for style and different weather
Umbrella – In the serious rain, you’re going to want a raincoat, but an umbrella can help for drizzles or for extra rain protection.
Hat, gloves, and scarves – The more of your bare skin you can cover up, the better. If you’re not a hat person, there are always earmuffs or headbands you can wear to cover your ears up.
Waterproof gloves are great but can limit motion. I suggest a lined pair that still allows you to use your fingers. One good winter scarf is good, as well as some pretty-but-functional ones to dress up and outfit and keep you warm.
Plug adapter – The British sockets are different from the rest of Europe so be careful of that.
Camera – you’re definitely going to want pictures of all your adventures!
Cell phone – I bought a cheap cell phone from one of the many shops around, and that was more than enough for me for staying in touch with friends studying abroad with me. For keeping in touch with people back home, the internet is probably your best and cheapest option.
Kindle – I loved having mine. Know that you can’t check any books out of the main Oxford library (you have to use them in the library, though they will save them for you) so having a Kindle is great for having lots of books!
You can get any school supplies you’ll need once you arrive, but remember that the paper size is different. If you’re bringing things from home, remember that your paper won’t fit in their binders and vice versa. Plan accordingly.
Things you may want that I recommend buying there:
Wellies (rain boots) – Definitely a good purchase, since they’re bulky to pack in your suitcase but you’re probably going to want them. They’re sold everywhere so don’t stress.
More warm clothing – I picked up more socks and cardigans at Primark, a super cheap department store that’s everywhere. I also found some pretty pashminas that I wore a lot for warmth and a splash of color.
Help us make this the best resource it can be! If there is anything you would add to this Oxford study abroad packing list, leave it in the comments below!
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About the Author: Aisha Ansano was born and raised in Curaçao, in the Caribbean, and moved to North Carolina at age 10. She has also lived in the Netherlands and California. She has been travelling since she was 6 weeks old and loves to get away whenever and wherever she can. She’s recently started a food blog for college kids trying to eat healthy at Dorm Fresh, and pins all kinds of things at http://pinterest.com/aansano/.