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International Student Services

How to Pack for South Carolina

Traveling from your home country all the way to UofSC takes a lot of preparation. Plan ahead and make sure you are bringing the necessities with you when you pack your suitcase. You will need to think carefully about what you should bring. See below for our tips.


Many students choose South Carolina because of the warm and beautiful weather. Known as "famously hot," Columbia has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters. It is rare to experience snow or below freezing temperatures in Columbia.

So, what clothes should you bring? First, you should know there are 4 distinct seasons. You can experience 4 seasons in a year in Columbia. It is a big campus, so sometimes it takes 20 minutes or more to walk to class and different activities. We recommend packing the following clothes:

  • comfortable shoes and clothes,
  • athletic clothes for extracurricular activities,
  • some business clothes class presentations

You cannot pack your entire closet when you travel, so make sure you pack efficiently. Transitional clothing that will serve you during your first few weeks of arrival is important. Most students shop for additional clothing and other items after arriving in Columbia. The closest major shopping mall is a 25 minute drive and there are stores such as Wal-mart and Target that are even closer. The UofSC bookstore also has many types of clothing and other supplies with the South Carolina logo. Many international students choose to shop online through Amazon .  There are lockers around campus where things can be delivered if you do not have a place where things can be delivered yet.


Toiletries, sunglasses, a towel, and a backpack are essential to bring when you first come so that you can use them right away instead of waiting for the first shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall. Again bring enough supplies for 2 weeks.


Do not bring electric appliances like a hair iron or dryer if you have to use a power adapter. A year on an adapter is not a good idea. These types of appliances can easily be purchased at one of the drugstores (such as Walgreens or CVS) that are located within walking distance of USC's campus.


Bring any essential medications with you. If you have a prescription for medication, make sure to bring a version that has been translated into English. 

Other types of medicine, such as flu medicine, allergy medicine or vitamins, can easily be bought at USC's bookstore or a nearby drugstore. If you want more information about this, please visit Student Health Services.


Take some time to review the TSA approved food list. There are some kinds of food that you are not allowed to bring into the United States. Know which foods are permitted to avoid being stopped at the airport for bringing food that is not allowed.

Remember, there are plenty of international markets in Columbia, where you can get most of the spices, rice, and sauces you need, so don’t worry!

Dining Plan Options

Many international students at USC choose a Dining Plan option for their first semester. Dining plans provide on-campus food to students throughout the day at a variety of on-campus restaurants. For students who prefer not to cook, there are many restaurants and fast-food options in the Russell House Student Union as well as the surrounding Columbia area. Many restaurants are well within walking distance of campus and the On-Campus Dining Options offer a wide variety of cuisine. Make sure to review the meal plan options at USC and determine whether this is the best option for you.


A laptop computer or tablet will be useful the first few days to keep in touch with family. Wireless internet is free around campus. However, be aware that when you arrive it can take some time to set up a U.S. cell phone and find a suitable carrier. International Student Services typically has SIM cards available for your use. For more information, see this section of the ISS website.

Additional Packing Tips from Our International Students

  • Pack shoes first, then clothes, then toiletries and irregular shaped items in middle for protection.
  • Wear your winter coat and boots on plane to save packing space.
  • Keep important immigration documents (i.e. passport, visa, I-20) and airplane tickets in a bag that you’ll bring on plane. Most airlines allow 1 carry-on bag and personal item free on the plane.

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