Jan 5, 2008

Nothing says fun like...

shopping for clothes in the midst of a New England winter to outfit you for six months in the Caribbean, two months in Europe, and then another four months in the Caribbean. And then cram it into a 50 pound luggage allowance that has probably around a 40% chance of getting permanently lost.

Said goodbye to dad today and drove him to Manchester to fly out, which also meant cashing in my Target gift card (since that's the first place I could find a Target) and getting some shopping done. Looking at the stuff to take to Grenada, with the potential for not significantly returning to the US for nearly a year once I'm out, all I can conclude is... well, hope the courier gets me a good rate on the stuff I'll be shipping!

So maybe I can help out with tips other than "don't try and save yourself a hundred bucks to fly out on an airline where you can only take 50 pounds, rather than 70 or 150."

What am I packing for 3rd term and on? Kitchen stuff and more clothes. Maybe it's that I tend to buy cheaply made stuff, but I'm finding that a lot of clothes wear quickly combined with the frequency of wear/harshness of washing machines/heat/humidity, so replenishing becomes necessary, especially of workout clothes. If you do gym workouts or plan on walking/jogging, bring a good amount of comfortable clothes for it, because they go QUICKLY, and depending on where "home" is and what season you're in, it can be hard to find the selection you want later, which is what I'm finding. A moisture-wicking running parka is not what I need to plan for jogging in 84 degree weather.

For your initial starter kit, bring sheets and a pillow because they are not provided, so unless you make room for them in your luggage, you're either going to be rushing out to buy one depending on when your flight gets in, or you'll be sleeping on a bare mattress. Bring towels, and as I learned when I came back for second term, pack a small towel in your carryon, because having to use a t-shirt in place of one while you wait for your luggage to finally get to you sucks (thanks, Air Jamaica). Speaking of which, though I've given this advice before as have many others, pack essentials in your carryon, since if you fly during the two peak times for students, you are fairly likely to get your luggage delayed, generally for between 1 and 7 days. For people that are entirely dependent on loans, since your loan isn't dispersed until you register for classes, this can be a really big problem if you are trying to replace your essentials.

I'd recommend bringing at least one sturdy pot that can double as a frying pan. For any of your start up necessities (kitchen ware, bathware, bedspreads), go to Spiceland Mall EARLY because all the incomings are going to be rushing for the same limited supply of products, and you may end up without silverware, pillows, etc for a while if you don't hurry and haven't brought them. They have all of it, and if you have free time, you can take a reggae bus downtown and get virtually anything you need, but easier, if you have the space, to just take it with you. It's cheaper, if nothing else.

If you have specialty products you really like (like a type of granola bar), bring them with you after checking whether they have them available. If you're from the UK, definitely check what they have before coming because the island has a TON of British imports and they tend to be more reasonably priced than the American stuff, so make sure you don't waste your luggage space.

When I was living in the dorms, I found the tap water to be perfectly fine. If you're planning to live off campus, I would recommend a filter. The water can be cloudy and tastes funny without one, and the filters get used up at a rate that suggests it's having to work pretty hard. If nothing else, in second term, parasitology will probably scare you into one.

For shoes, except when I'm jogging/walking, where breathable sneakers are key, I spend about 95% of my time in sandals. I've found it suspiciously difficult to find reasonably priced comfortable sandals on the island, so since they're light, it may be worth bringing down a few pairs. They wear out pretty quickly.

A good bag for laundry/groceries can be useful if you have an extra little bit of luggage space. Juggling groceries onto a packed bus with 40 other people also carrying groceries is not fun, and is made less fun when you're having to keep track of 8 bags.

And speaking of laundry, if you like dryer sheets, bring them. They are INCREDIBLY hard to find in Grenada.

OTC drugs you regularly use should probably be thrown in. The local stores can run out of things for a while and a lot of them are REALLY expensive. If you're going to buy OTC drugs on the island, I think the True Blue pharmacy tends to run better prices than IGA. For prescription drugs, talk to your doctor about a vacation prescription, since the pharmacies can run out of things at inopportune times.

Whether or not you pack any warm clothes really depends on you. I had a hoodie in Grenada that really only became useful when I needed a brief barrier against walking in and out of planes on the way back to the US, but some students get cold in the lecture halls or their dorms due to acclimatizing to the Caribbean heat and then getting thrust periodically into air conditioning.

Well, to bed for me. Good luck!

1 comment:

n_jagra said...

Hey Ishie, thats one great entry. I was gonna bring loads of food but the news about UK food helps, thanks! Good luck getting your stuff ready for grenada, can't believe I'm gonna be on the smegging island in 2 weeks! lol