So I get that food is uber-important to us Malaysians, but going overseas requires a little more preparation aside from the small grocery shop that we will be carrying in our luggage. I mentioned that I’d expand a little more on medication, so I’ll be doing that plus listing a couple of other things that helped me acclimatize during my first few months at the UofI.
I had two medicine bags – one in my carry-on, and another in my checked luggage. Here’s what went into both:
I had with me chewable vitamins, because immunity drops when you’re 30,000 feet in the air. Plus, you’ll be exposed to so many varieties of pathogens you’d probably not want to get onto the plane if you stop to think about it. I also packed a strip of Panadol (just in case I fell sick), Eno, lozenges, and Vick’s inhaler nasal stick for blocked noses.
While chewing gum is not medicine, I threw it in my pack, because my ears get blocked pretty badly while flying, and I’m not really a fan of the cotton-in-my-ear sensation.
This was my personal Chinese sinseh and Guardian Pharmacy all rolled into one. I take a lot of Chinese traditional medicine, so I had herbal pills for everything from cough and indigestion to fever and period cramps. If you’re old-school like me, traditional medicine is definitely allowed, so it’s fine to take along any kacip fatimah or ginseng extract pills, but please make sure to label them with their functions. I included prescription anti-inflammatory pills for sore throat, flu medicine from my family doctor, charcoal pills (in case American food did not agree with me), more Eno, plasters, muscle-ache patches, extra vitamins, an entire box of Panadol, and more lozenges (because I have overactive tonsils). In general, bring along whatever you think you need (especially things like inhalers or respirators), but LABEL THEM with their ingredients (if possible) and, more importantly, their purpose.
Oh yes, musn’t forget good ol’ Tiger Balm and Vicks Vaporub.
A set of winter clothes
I’ve had some friends ask me if it would be better if they waited and bought their cold-weather clothes in the US. While winter clothes are significantly cheaper here, it would also be wise to invest in at least one set of winter clothes (coat, long johns, scarf, gloves, woolen socks) before flying, as you never know when you’d be able to make a trip to the store once you arrive. Come prepared.
Spare glasses, contact lenses, retainers, shoes. At least, that’s what came along with me. Spectacles (or glasses, as they call it in the US) are pretty expensive, and so are contacts. Retainers (and any dental care in general) isn’t covered by the university insurance. So if you want to save a few future bucks, invest in spares before you leave.
I brought my teddy bear with me. I am not ashamed of myself. Things that help remind you of home may ease homesickness a little, and help you cope with your new environment. It’s also like having a bit of your family and friends with you. Bring along anything that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, be it a old blanket, a squishy pillow, a beloved book, or a smelly doll – whatever works. No one judged me – or at least, I think so.