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The excitement of moving abroad is parallel to nothing else. The high of a new adventure, a new journey, a new path to take is intoxicating. Unfortunately, it comes with a good dose of reality by way of ensuring you have all the things you could ever need for settling in a new home. So let's discuss the checklist you will need to tick off for your first home abroad in the UK as an IMG!
Where to buy things from?
Let's first keep in mind that most anything can be found in the UK. There is no reason to unnecessarily burden your bags with things that can easily be bought here. Until or unless you are absolutely sure the item cannot be found in the UK or the cost is considerably more here, do not resort to lugging it along. Also try and seek hospital accommodations as your first option, or if that isn't possible, try and find semi-furnished flats with at least white goods (washing machine, fridge, etc), so that you'll have less to worry about when you move in.
Amazon is your best friend in the UK. Things can easily be shopped, viewed, judged, and shipped. You can more often than not also find things for considerably less if you're smart about it. Amazon allows for a 30 day free trial of Prime, which you can cancel even before the time runs out, and you'll still receive all the benefits associated with Prime, such as 1 day free shipping, access to movies, music, etc.
There are a variety of stores you can find bits and bobs from to fill your home. For more hardware and fixture related things, look for B&Q or B&M. Household items can be found in ASDA, Tesco, LIDL, B&M, and TK MAXX. For clothes and other accessories, you can shop at Primark, M&S, Debenhams, Next, TK MAXX, etc. The UK also boasts a good number of charity shops where you can find a decent range of second hand items, but I'd suggest refraining from purchasing prams, car seats, cribs, and baby carriers as there are quality controls on these products which sometimes can fall through the cracks if not properly checked and monitored. It's always better to buy these things new if possible.
What things should I buy?
It's a well-known fact that being a doctor means you'll have limited time to cook, but that doesn't mean there isn't a way around that conception. The one appliance I feel will give you the most bang for your buck is a slow cooker. Every amateur chef's dream contraption, you can literally set it and forget it. Just toss whatever you dish you'd like to make in a pot and let it cook all day, without worrying about it burning or needing any attention. With that, a rice cooker is a must! You can either opt for a simple single serve cooker or a proper full blown cooker.
Another must-have is a cast iron skillet. Touted as the last pan you'll ever need, its advantages include its non-stick quality, easy cleaning ability, and longevity. It is definitely something you should never be without. You may need just one or an entire set of pans. After you've cooked your masterpiece, don't forget to purchase cutlery and a dinnerware set to plate your meals.
Oven gloves and pot holders should be next on your list, to always ensure you'll never burn your hands cooking and moving hot dishes from the stove to the table. Accordingly, you may seek to invest in a good cooking apron because, I mean, you're basically a chef at this point. Which is why a set of baking trays is definitely a must-have, along with a variety of cooking utensils and a sturdy can opener.
Next up is the ever-useful blender. Blenders are quite versatile, allowing you to grind spices, mix up smoothies, and pulverize just about anything. It's up to you to decided if you're fine with just a simple straightforward food processor, or if you need to kick things up a notch with something intense.
When in the UK, do as the locals do by brewing a cuppa every once and a while with your electric kettle. Don't forget to keep it classy with a stylish French press or tea pot. Likewise, a water filter may be something you'd want to keep handy. Water generally is clean to drink from the tap, but there may be varying concentrations of minerals in many parts of the UK which makes the water hard, something many of you may not have tasted before. A filter can help neutralize that taste.
Around the House
Moving in can mean a lot of little things may need patching up, or you may want to hang up that poster of One Direction that you've always had and no one understood your love so you kept it tucked away in your closet all these years. Ahem. But I digress. A toolkit, however, is a definite essential, and not something you want to wish you had when you're in a fix.
The English weather is not known for being warm and forgiving, so when chilly winds descend, your best option is to keep a clothing rack handy to help quickly dry your clothes after a wash. In that vein, a great hair dryer is paramount if you want to prevent a head cold from having wet hair in damp conditions.
Speaking of looking your best, you'll never be presentable if you don't have an iron to keep all of your outfits crisp and wrinkle-free. It will be difficult to manage home cleaning considering your busy schedule, but a decent vacuum cleaner will at least make things a little easier.
For the Job
The one thing you will definitely find yourself doing every single day on the job is standing. This is why a pair of comfortable, practical shoes are essential. The debate on what brand of shoes are the most ideal is endless, so go with whatever your feet feel happy with and are within the price range you're willing to pay. My one suggestion, however, no matter the type of shoes you choose, invest in a pair of orthotic insoles. They will do wonders to ensure that you stay light and at ease all day.
Stethoscopes are our pride and joy, not to mention the one thing that we use the most often on the ward. The argument as to which stetho is best has at least given rise to a few favorites:
Most of us like to purchase the PDF versions of our textbooks, but nothing beats a good, tangible book to study from in our free time so that we can stay on top of our game. The most commonly used and important books are:
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine
- Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties
- Oxford Handbook of General Practice
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Diagnosis
- Oxford Handbook for the Foundation Programme
Accordingly, the apps to keep downloaded are the BNF and MDCalc so that you can always have the information you need while on the ward right at your fingertips. Lastly, the holy grail for interviews, Medical Interviews: A Comprehensive Guide to CT, ST & Registrar Interview Skills is an absolute necessity as you make your way up the specialty ladder.
We've covered a lot of things in this post and we hope you're not overwhelmed by the idea of needing so many things at once or potentially spending a small fortune on things right out of the gate, but hopefully with the tips and advice mentioned here (and more to come subsequent posts), you all will adjust comfortably to your new lives. If you're moving within the UK, please also have a look at what to know when moving.
Best wishes and congrats!