What to Pack for an Oxford Summer School

14 May, 2024 | Blog Articles, Get the Edge

Wondering what to pack is an inevitable part of planning for an Oxford summer school. Thorough planning and packing is important for a smooth start to a summer programme – there’s nothing worse than arriving and realising you’ve forgotten something vital, from suitable clothing to medication. 

Going away for a summer school can be an intimidating experience, especially if you’re travelling internationally, so we’ve put together a guide to assist you (along with parents and guardians) in preparing for an Oxford summer school

In this article, we’ll focus in particular on essential items to bring for your stay in Oxford, to help make the process as simple as possible.

The Oxford Scholastica Experience

The residential summer school programme is a hallmark of our work at the Oxford Scholastica Academy, and is designed to give students a taste of the university experience, allowing them to explore their subject in detail with experts in the field. The programme consists of a diverse range of activities from Masterclasses and classes to Challenge Afternoons and extracurricular activities. Please note, Oxford Scholastica is not connected to the University of Oxford.

The Oxford Scholastica residential summer school experience is designed to ensure there’s something different to take part in each day, offering a mix of learning and cultural activities.

What to Pack for an Oxford Summer School

Wondering what to pack is common among Oxford summer school students and university students alike – I’ve packed and moved to Oxford every term for nearly three years now, and still find myself spending time pondering what to pack! It can be quite stressful trying to think of all the things you’ll need, and there’s always a fear of forgetting something important. 

In this section of the article, we’ll lay out some of the important things to consider when planning what to pack for your Oxford summer school.

I. Clothing essentials

Clothes are probably one of the first things you think of when considering what to pack, but it can be difficult to know which clothing items to bring. We recommend packing a variety of options which are suitable for different weather conditions, especially since the weather here in Oxford can be incredibly variable! 

Even though it’ll be summertime in Britain, the weather might be cooler and feature more rain than you’re used to, so it’s important to bring some versatile layers to stay warm and dry. However, don’t forget to pack some lightweight tops and breathable bottoms for the (hopefully) warmer days. The summer school dress code is casual, so you can bring whatever you’d normally wear to relax and feel comfortable. 

Some comfortable walking shoes or sneakers are a great (possibly vital) addition, as there will be plenty of walking to and from classes, as well as exploring the city and taking part in activities. 

The Oxford Scholastica summer school offers a running club, alongside opportunities to play sports throughout the programme, so it might be worth bringing some appropriate workout clothes if you’d like to participate in these. 

While the day-to-day dress code is casual, we’d also recommend packing a few formal options for special occasions, like the graduation ceremony held at the end of the programme. We also have an International Ball, where students are encouraged to wear their national dress to represent their cultural heritage, so you could also pack your favourite traditional outfit.

Students on a boat on the River Thames at Oxford Scholastica's International Boat Ball

II. Personal care and hygiene

Make sure to pack the essential toiletries, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant, and anything else you’d normally use. Picking these up in travel-sized versions is a good way to avoid taking up too much of your luggage space.

It’s also important to pack some sun protection, including sun cream with a high SPF, sunglasses and hats. Also, definitely make sure to pack any prescription medications that you need!

III. Study materials

You’ll be attending quite a few different classes during the summer school, so make sure to pack at least one notebook and some pens for taking notes and completing assignments. If you prefer to work on a device, consider bringing your laptop or tablet with you – and don’t forget chargers and adaptors. Packing some noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs can also be a good idea, so you can get some studying done even in noisy environments.

IV. Electronics

Make sure to also pack essential electronic devices, such as a mobile phone to keep in contact with your friends and family, and to get the contact details of new friends you’ll meet during your Oxford summer school experience. It’s easy to purchase a cheap SIM card on arrival, so don’t worry about buying one in advance.

Don’t forget to also bring the corresponding chargers for your electrical devices, and a universal adaptor to ensure compatibility with different power outlets.

Four Oxford Scholastica students sitting on a sofa, laughing and relaxing

V. Miscellaneous

There are some extras that are worth packing, including: 

  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day 
  • A backpack or tote bag for day-to-day use and carrying essentials around the city
  • An umbrella and raincoat for unexpected showers or inclement weather, as even in the warmer drier months, there’s a fair amount of rain in Oxford, and British weather is infamously unpredictable 
  • Important documents, including passports, bank cards and travel documents 

If you’re not quite sure how you’ll be travelling yet, take a look at the best travel options when attending an Oxford summer school. Remember to check that your passport has at least six months left before its expiration date, and make sure you’ve acquired a suitable visa if necessary. We highly recommend bringing photocopies of all your documents too, if possible.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is you have everything you need to enjoy your Oxford summer school experience, so if there’s anything else you use on a day-to-day basis, then bring that along too!

Packing Tips for Your Trip to Oxford

1. Try to begin packing (or at least plan your packing) as early as possible to avoid last-minute stress. There’s nothing worse than getting to the last minute and realising you’ve forgotten something important, so start packing as early as you can, and perhaps make a checklist to make sure you’ve got all of your necessary items. 

2. Pack only what you need! This is easier said than done, but try to only include the essentials. You’re likely to accumulate souvenirs and mementos during your time in Oxford, so it’s worth having some extra space in your luggage to allow you to bring these home. 

3. Organise your belongings using packing cubes or compression bags to maximise luggage space. This will also help you keep track of what you’ve packed, and will make unpacking much easier.

4. Try rolling your clothes instead of folding them to save space and minimise wrinkles. This is something that really helped me to pack more efficiently, and not having to iron all your clothes when you arrive is the ultimate plus.

5. Attach luggage tags with your name and contact information to easily identify your bags. This is especially important if your luggage is not easily distinguishable – you don’t want to arrive in Oxford and realise you’ve accidentally taken the wrong luggage at baggage claim. It’ll also help to reunite you with your luggage if it’s misplaced.

6. Finally, use protective cases or sleeves to shield electronic devices from damage during travel. Naturally your belongings will experience some roughness and movement during your travels, so make sure to protect your electronic devices as well as you can to avoid damage.

In this article, we’ve laid out some of the essentials to consider when packing for an Oxford summer school, as well as some tips to make the process as stress-free as possible. Trying to procure something important right after arriving in Oxford isn’t a great way to start your summer school experience, so it’s worth doing everything you can early on to prevent this. 

Definitely make use of our comprehensive checklist to make your summer in Oxford enjoyable and hassle-free. We hope you have an amazing and unforgettable experience!


By Kylie Li

Kylie is reading Experimental Psychology student at Queen’s College, Oxford. She is most interested in developmental and cognitive psychology, and how these can be applied to the education system.

Looking to join us in Oxford this summer?

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