Packing — the age-old, noble practice of attempting to cram one’s entire life into a tiny bag — is a necessity, and it is something you will become an expert at during your time at NYUAD. But as fall semester approaches, the thought of taking four-month’s worth of clothes, amenities and belongings to school can be daunting. Airline luggage policies to Abu Dhabi can severely restrict your options, and while the average college freshman in your home country may be able pile all their boxes into a car and drive to campus, that same luxury does not apply to a ten-hour, transatlantic flight.
When prioritizing what kind of clothing you need to bring to school, you should remember Abu Dhabi’s hot climate but also know that, thanks to its intense air-conditioning systems, this emirate likes to keep its indoors at arctic temperatures.
“Many people think that because Abu Dhabi is the desert, they should be fine with summer clothes,” said sophomore residential assistant Hee Eun Kwon. “Not true. Navigating between Sama and DTC, you will realize that the air conditioning in this country can get pretty ridiculous. So do bring your hoodies and jumpers.”
While it may be tempting to toss in all your shorts and swimsuits in preparation for sweltering August temperatures, keep in mind the cultural expectations of the country in which you will be living. For girls, the line between modesty and hot weather survival is a line best toed in open sandals and loose, breathable clothing. Maxi skirts and shawls made from light fabric are easy to throw on and will effectively keep you cool. Inside the student areas of Sama Tower, however, you are free dress how you want, so do bring a mix of clothes that you are comfortable wearing inside and outside.
Both Hall Council and Student Government host numerous events that have a dress code of business casual or more formal attire. For many NYUAD students, deciphering what business casual means has remained one of the forever unsolvable mysteries of higher education. But you can’t go wrong with a blazer and skirt for girls, and khakis and a dress shirt for guys.
Over your next semester at NYUAD, you will be subjecting your wardrobe to a slew of different activities — and the occasional laundry mishap. Whether you are thinking about trying out for the dragon boat team or taking a Linajma
oil-painting class, bring along some clothes that you don’t mind getting stained or ruined.
Looking back over his past year at NYUAD, sophomore and RA Sam Ridgeway said, “It was good to pack a few pieces of clothing that you just didn't care about too much — wearing them to go to the desert, or for Holi, or just for the gym.”
Remember to bring a smaller, carry-on sized luggage or a large hiking backpack that you can take with you for any travelling around the region. For trips that last less than week, these bags are a great alternative to dragging along your bulky suitcase everywhere you go. Especially if you plan on doing nature, adventure or hiking tours when you travel, having a portable bag to pack will make all the difference.
When thinking about home amenities, be aware that the school will be taking you to IKEA during Marhaba week and that you will also be living very close to Al Safa — a convenience store that sells everything from pans to mops to brooms. If you are attempting to save room in your suitcase, forgo towels, bedding, clothes hangers, school supplies and cleaning supplies. You can buy all of that — and more — at low prices in Abu Dhabi.
Another space-saving tip: instead of lugging along lotion, shaving cream, shower gel and shampoo, which are all heavy and can lead to potential soap explosions in your suitcase, bring travel-sized bottles instead and buy the full versions when you get to school.
“Forget toiletries and other mundane household items unless you are using something prescription or super unique — it's not worth the weight,” recommended sophomore Veronica Houk. “Except tampons — consider buying those suckers in bulk [back home].”
When it comes down to it, the most important task of packing is maximizing space and minimizing luggage weight. Remember that you will be returning at the end of the semester with new clothes and goods that you’ve bought in Abu Dhabi — save room.
"I'd really recommend packing as light as possible,” said junior Lex Peel. “First semester, I brought lots of clothes, books, and other things from home, but quickly realized that a light suitcase with the bare essentials, plus one or two home comforts at best, really helped me embrace the hectic lifestyle in Abu Dhabi."
Sophomore Eszter Mészáros agreed. “My advice would be that you should leave everything home that you don't use frequently,” she said. “As a girl I hate not having enough options to wear, so I practically took almost all my clothes with me ... I came home with 20kg overweight, which I had to carry on my back — it was no fun.”
While packing light is important, do not forget to bring some gifts, snacks and photographs from home. Decorating your space with things of nostalgic value will help make your dorm room feel like its truly your own.
“I am definitely going to dedicate a significant portion of my suitcase room to my favorite foods from home that I can't get in Abu Dhabi,” Houk said. “I love sharing food from my local neighborhood — i.e. Twinkies from the Route 9 Cumberland Farms. When I miss home, it keeps me alive when I'm going through a hummus slump … If you cook at all, throw in your favorite cookbook too.”