Hey there CAMPers! Congrats on all your acceptances! My name’s Marianna, I’m a rising senior at Wesleyan University, and I am unashamed to say that I’ve always been a cheapskate. Before I left for college, I was told I’d be able to buy basically everything I needed there in the US. While that was (and is) true, I definitely ended up paying more than I needed to, and I had a smaller selection from which to choose on top of that.
I hope to prevent the same from happening to you, so for the sake of money and convenience, here’s a list of stuff that I wish I had known to buy in Manila before I left for the US. Most items on this list can easily be found in big malls with department stores like SM or Landmark (in fact, that’s where I suggest you look first). And all of these things should be able to fit in your suitcases without adding much weight.
(photo courtesy of target.com)
*** Keep in mind that I go to a small college in a small town, kind of in the middle of nowhere, on the East Coast. The best thing you can and should do is get in touch with someone who actually goes to your college, preferably someone from the Philippines, and ask them for more specific advice about what and what not to bring. :)
Stuff to Buy in the Philippines:
1. Pillow cases (standard size)
- There will be a lot more variety in department stores in Manila. Or, better yet, bring over your favorite pillow cases from home.
- Usually, the Twin XL bed sheet set you’ll buy will already come with one pillowcase. But many people buy a set of two pillows so you’ll need at least one more. Plus it’s nice to have extras.
2. Eye mask and ear plugs
- If you’re the type who can have trouble sleeping. Also handy on the plane.
3. A laptop sleeve/case if you don’t have one yet
- I found mine in Landmark for Php150 and so many people here have asked where I got it, haha.
4. Two or three mesh laundry bags for your underwear/delicates
- You can find these anywhere, but I particularly like the ones from Saizen! They’re a third of the price of the ones in Bed Bath & Beyond, and better quality too. Most people don’t need that many (I own 3).
5. Bath/skin/nail care
- You can find an incredible variety of shampoo, soap, moisturizer, lotion, etc. in the US so don’t worry about the products. I’m talking tools: A loofah, nose strips, all your nail stuff (nail clipper, filer, buffer, etc.) – tons cheaper back home.
6. Travel kit with empty bottles/little jars
- Preferably with a transparent case/bag, and TSA-compliant bottle sizes. Comes in handy when you travel around, which many of you will during breaks.
7. School supplies
- At my college, laptops are pretty popular for note-taking, but many people still use notebooks, and some professors actually don’t allow laptops. So if you’re particular about having nice school supplies, and if you can make space in your suitcase for them, I suggest you do – even for just a couple of notebooks, pens, Post-Its, etc. National Bookstore’s quality and its wide selection, for the price, is absolutely superior to that of Staples.
8. Cold weather stuff, if your college is in a cold place
- I know it seems counterintuitive to buy winter wear in a tropical country… but Manila’s so freaking hot all the time so no one buys winter stuff! It is worth at least checking out some sales (and then compare prices online if you like). Don’t buy a lot, just a few things to get you started.
- I personally recommend hitting up all the ukay-ukay stores for great deals (just check that it’s a decent brand & that it’s made of down or a good down alternative). It is possible to find good quality there, you just have to be persistent in your hunt. I got my own practically brand-new SUPER warm & reliable winter jacket for Php650 (vs Php5,000+) in an ukay-ukay in Tagaytay. If you bring it to the US and find it isn’t perfectly warm enough, oh well, it was cheap and you’ll have a back-up.
Side note that doesn’t belong anywhere else on this list:
If you’re planning on printing out a WHOLE BUNCH of photos to decorate the walls of your dorm room (which you should totally do), it’s way cheaper & more convenient to do it online. Snapfish.com is my go-to, you just upload the photos and they print and deliver them straight to you. :)
Marianna Ilagan graduated from Saint Pedro Poveda College in 2011. She now attends Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT as part of the class of 2015.