If this is the first time you've spent a long time abroad, what should you pack? Diana Hinds asks two students

Most of the things in my suitcase were clothes and books, which was a terrible mistake. The books were terribly heavy and not that useful.

In my part of the world it is much colder in the winter, so I brought clothes for a relatively mild climate. I would pack more clothes and fewer books if I had to do it again. Clothes are much cheaper at home.

I am not that fussy about food, but a lot of fellow students from China and other parts of Asia really like their exotic spices and condiments, so they are essential if that is what you like. I brought cumin seeds, peppercorns and aniseed, but didn't pack any solid foods in my suitcase. I also brought MSG, which is widely used in cooking at home.

You need to bring your passport and the formal offer from the university. It depends what country you come from, but I had to have a health check beforehand, so you need to bring any paperwork, as well as vaccination certificates.

I probably should have brought a mobile phone handset with me at the time, but now, three years on, you can get a handset for as little as £20 so it is not a huge loss. I brought a radio, which is great, and a small, portable iron, which is a bit redundant because there is already an iron here.

I was lucky to know students who had travelled, so I got advice by word of mouth. But there is a wealth of stuff on the internet and also in magazines like this.

Kate Azuka Omenugha, 40, from Nigeria.
PhD student in media studies at the University of Gloucestershire

Because I was told that this place is very cold, I ordered a winter coat from Dubai, which cost me about £200. I had never left my country before so I did not know what to expect. I did not know I could have bought a coat here for £10 or £20 in a second-hand shop. Somebody who had been abroad gave me a pair of gloves, which were uncomfortable.

I brought native food like ogbono, which we make with okra, and dried bitter leaf, which we use to make our native soup. I have not used it much because I could not be bothered to go through the elaborate task of making it.

I brought some Nigerian clothes and, apart from the simple ones that are easy to wear, I will be taking them back without having worn them. People here do not really bother so much with dress, it is very casual. The things I brought were formal and elegant.

I wish I had brought an umbrella from home because most of the ones here are not strong enough. In Nigeria we have real downpours in the rainy season and our umbrellas are much stronger.

I brought some books I thought I was going to use for my studies, but they were unnecessary because I could have got them out of the library here.

The music I brought came in handy when I was very homesick. And the photograph of my family - I have six children - makes me look forward to returning home.

Interviews by Katie Shimmon