1. Things you NEED:
- Clothes to hang out in- (i.e. sweatpants) because you're going to imagine yourself walking through the streets of Europe in über fashionable attire, but this is only realistically possible 3 days of the week. IN THE HOUSE WE DRESS COMFORTABLY! Cannot stress this enough. Bring lots of leggings and a good pair of house-shoes my friends.
- A good jacket- I know they're expensive, but I highly suggest splurging a little on a good quality winter coat. A puffy 'gonia is nice, but it will not keep you warm enough. The people who got the more expensive 3-in-1 jacket from Patagonia WITH A HOOD, were much happier in the long run. It will be worth it to you to spend a little extra, I promise. Same goes for nice gloves.
- Waterproof shoes- I brought my Hunter boots, but they didn't keep my feet warm at all, and they are super inconvenient to try to fit in a bag, so second semester I opted for the Ugg Adirondack boots. They were built for snow and are also warm and waterproof. Some people also get Sorels, and said they worked great! Also, as far as regular shoes, you will want nice supportive walking shoes. I know that sounds nerdy, but you will be walking everywhere you go.
- A camera- You don't have to have a fancy DSLR to take good abroad pictures but you NEED NEED NEED a camera. Also, if I had some advice, it would be to learn a little about how to work your DSLR (if you have one) before you get here. I was a total poser and had no idea how to use it until half-way through the semester. You'll thank yourself later.
- A good water bottle- Europe is literally the dehydrated continent. Carrying a water bottle will keep you hydrated as much as possible.
- Medicine- this is big. When one person in Maison du Lac gets sick, EVERYONE gets sick. Arm yourself with Advil, NyQuil, Emergen-C, Pepto and literally anything else you can think of! Vitamins also help! So does being well hydrated, thus, the water bottle.
- A BIG weekend bag- I brought a little canvas duffle, but I always had a hard time fitting all the stuff I wanted for a weekend, especially when I was going to a cold-weather destination. A lot of students brought hiking(?) backpacks, which fit a lot more, but can still pass for a carry-on. I suggest getting something along those lines instead.
2. Things you will probably want:
- Some school supplies- Switzerland has this weird thing with graph paper. They don't use lined paper. Only graph. So if you like to write on lined paper, buy a few spirals at home. Other than that, you can find school supplies here pretty affordably!
- Multiple Adapters/Converters- So my logic was to buy a "Mac World Travel Kit" to charge my laptop, and use a USB to charge my phone. If I were you, I would not do this. It's much more convenient to have a few adapters/converters so you don't have to worry about bringing your laptop on every trip (they're bulky!).
- Shampoo- It's true that you can buy shampoo and conditioner at Migros here in Lausanne, but they offer like two brands (Pantene and some generic brand), so if you're picky AT ALL about hair products, bring them! Same goes for facewash, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, and ESPECIALLY MAKEUP. It is so expensive here and terrible quality.
- Shower Shoes- The showers here are better than Freshman dorms, but less than superb. Enough said.
- Room decorations- A tapestry is the most minimal way to customize your room. It's super easy, and doesn't take up much room in your bag. Also, pictures are another small thing, that can really make your room feel like home. You can also bring some fun tape to hang them up with! Keep it simple.
- Granola bars & other snacks- Swiss grocery stores close at 7, and you WILL find yourself starving in your room with no grocery store to buy food from. The snacks will be there when nobody else will.
- American Gum- bring TONS of gum if you're a habitual gum chewer. European gum just isn't the same, so either bring your own, or be jealous of your friends who did (like me!)
- A robe or something like it. The shower is down the hall, and the floors are co-ed. That being said, the towels in Maison du Lac are incredibly small, and you might have a hard time covering everything. Another option is to bring your clothes into the shower room, but it's pretty small, and your clothes would probably get wet on the floor.
3. Things you might need:
- Hangers- most of the rooms have PLENTY of hangers already hanging in the closets. Some have more; some have less. If by chance you get one with less, you might need a few extra, but really, you can buy hangers at Migros (the local grocery store), so there's no need to bring them.
- Books- I was one of the lucky ones. I kinda winged it on the books thing, didn't buy/bring any, and found all of the books I needed in the Greek boxes. I'm not going to officially recommend for you to do this, but just so you know, there are TONS of books in the Greek boxes. You could probably wait to see if they are in the boxes, and if not, share with a friend for a week or so until you can ship a book from Amazon France. Saved so much money this way, but proceed at your own risk lol. It's a good idea to ask people in your sorority/fraternity to see if they know what's in there.
4. Things you DO NOT NEED:
- Laundry soap- a former student tipped me off that Switzerland has weird laundry soap, so I lugged a 7 pound jug (those of you packing know how precious that weight is), and turns out, they bought a new and good kind at the house. That being said, they provide laundry soap for free! Don't bring any!
- A ton of warm-weather clothes- It's warm for like a week... Bring stuff you can layer and stuff that will keep you cozy! Once you get to know the people in your house, the runway show ends, ok.
- All your cute sandals- you will almost never wear them, and aren't worth having here. When we go out, girls pretty much wear booty heels, and as it gets colder, literally adidas or rain boots. Form over function here in Switzerland!
- Bed stuff- You don't need any sheets or comforters or pillows (unless you want a specific kind of pillow) and they wash them and replace them for you every week! They are all white down comforters, and actually super comfortable!
- A curling iron or straightener- most girls just buy one here. I spent about $45 on my curling iron, and it was way easier to not have to worry about blowing a fuse. You can also split the price and share with your roommate if they want to do that.
If you have any other questions about living in Maison du Lac, I would love to answer them.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org