Après Explore, Part 2: What’s In My Bag: Nova Scotia Edition

I just returned from the Spring session of the Explore program at Université Sainte Anne, Nova Scotia. Over the next little while I’ll be sharing des petits morceaux of my experience there, so stay tuned! 

  1. Open Letter to Familloise (my residence, Belliloise, for the last 5 weeks)
  2. What’s In My Bag: Nova Scotia edition (what to pack/what I wish I’d packed)

PLEASE NOTE: I was in Nova Scotia during the Spring session, which spanned mid-May to late June. This meant that I had to pack for weather that swung between cold, windy and rainy to mid-20s and sunny — and plenty in between. Also, it took me several re-attempts to pack enough clothes, and there were things I would have done differently. We’re all different, and I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. I hope that this list helps give you an idea — not instructions of useful things to include!


The weather in Nova Scotia changes quickly and drastically, so layers are key:

  • A waterproof rainjacket (I got mine for $8 in Value Village). “No hood, no good” is a good rule of thumb here.
  • Another lightweight jacket, such as a denim or leather/pleather is useful too.
  • Hoodies, sweaters and cardigans/plaid shirts are ideal. A selection of shorts, pants, etc. that are versatile, and a variety of shirts that are long and short sleeved.
  • WATERPROOF BOOTS ARE A MUST. Some people brought rainboots/wellies, but personally I opted for hiking boots and a waterproofing spray. The beach at Sainte Anne is rocky, and there’s lots of opportunities for walks and hikes — hiking boots were comfortable and practical. Wear them to the airport to reduce the weight in your luggage.
  • Hats (at least one for the sun, and a toque for chilly evenings/bad hair days.
  • Potentially less applicable for the summer session, but I’d recommend bringing a scarf. A big scarf can also double as a blanket during your flight.
  • Sneakers, slip-on shoes, sandals.
  • One fancy-ish outfit and pair of shoes you can party in. I didn’t pack clothes to be cute, but luckily threw one black dress in that served me well for many a soirée.


I didn’t bother packing any costumes, and managed to improvise costumes for each event. The themed parties we had, to give you an idea of what to expect, were as follows:

  • Toga
  • 80s/90s
  • Casino
  • 50s
  • Christmas
  • Halloween
  • Louisiana

(Bear in mind that these may not be repeated at every session, and are probably not listed chronologically!)



  • Room spray — this was one of my best decisions. I’d been gifted a room spray from Saje at Christmas, but hardly ever used it. My room at Belliloise was small and got stuffy quickly when the window was closed, and the room spray helped freshen the room and make it feel more homey. A lot of my housemates borrowed it, and now whenever I use the spray at home it reminds me of Sainte Anne.
  • A blanket/quilt: I tend to get cold at night, and the blankets provided are very thin (grab an extra sheet or two on the first night, just in case!). I’m so glad I packed an extra quilt – it brightened up my room immediately and kept me cosy. These are also ideal for long flights, if you’re travelling far from home!
  • Decorations: I didn’t pack any, but some of my friends brought little battery-powered fairy lights, postcards and photos from home to decorate their rooms with.


  • The basics, obviously: toothpaste (I used Lush’s Miles of Smiles toothy tabs to save space in my washbag and avoid a toothpaste explosion), facewash, shampoo/conditioner, shower gel etc.
  • Towel, washcloth.
  • Flip flops for the shower.
  • If you forget or run out of anything, there’s regular trips to the pharmacy to restock!giphy.gif


  • FIRST AID STUFF. Bring the inevitables such as Advil/Tylenol, cold meds and vitamin C (everyone got sick — in the UK we call it fresher’s flu. There’s a very specific illness that spreads in residences), bandaids, allergy medication if you need it, polysporin, Neocitran.

giphy (1)

  • Suncream/aftersun. Let the lobsters be the red ones.
  • Insect repellent and afterbite! There’s a lot of ticks in the Petit Bois, and mosquitos come at you thick and fast. I used JR Watkins’ Great Outdoors lotion and left with exactly one mosquito bite and zero ticks. Considering we had a tally going of how many ticks each person had found on their person, I think it’s a good choice.
  • Reusable water bottle/travel mug.
  • A kettle — this may not seem strictly necessary, but the lovely Claire brought one to our residence and we owe her our lives for it.
  • A camera — pour les belles photos.
  • Snacks — dinner is usually around 17h-18h30, and after that the caf closes. Bring or buy snacks to keep in res — you’ll need them.
  • Games — ones that can be played in french! Some of my friends brought things like cards, balls, hula hoops, and we bought/borrowed board games from Frenchy’s and the library on campus.


  • A notebook
  • Pencils, pens, post-its
  • A binder (I’m not usually one to use a binder, but my prof gave us a lot of exercise sheets. It was necessary)
  • Laptop — also good for watching Netflix en français.

I may have forgotten or overlooked something, so let me know your own recommendations and tips in the comment section below! Remember, you’re going away for almost 5 weeks, so try not to underpack — but remember that there’s also a laundry room, magasin campus, and Frenchy’s thrift store should you need anything else. Bon courage et bon voyage, mes amis.


Photo credit: Yssa Lisci


3 thoughts on “Après Explore, Part 2: What’s In My Bag: Nova Scotia Edition

  1. Pingback: Après Explore, Part 1: An Open Letter to Familloise | Tea & Textbooks

  2. French/English dictionary ( you are going to learn French after all)
    French verb conjugation book 📚
    Scissors and tape (a must for any adventure)
    Sketchbook / casual art supplies if you’re the crafty type
    A gift 🎁 (there will be a secret santa 🎅 bring anything you might thing anyone would like)
    Flag or tshirt that shows representation of where you’re from-you’ll meet people this way!!
    A good attitude for making friends.( You’re going to be meeting over 💯 new people. Sainte Anne is a small campus so if you meet someone on the first day that you don’t like…get used to seeing them all the time. The good ones though….they will be your friends for life and you will have made connections from all across Canada 🇨🇦. Keep up the positive attitude and make friends with social media if you haven’t already.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I love these suggestions, especially the flag/tshirt idea! I knew I was forgetting something important, of course it was the French dictionary/Conjugation books haha. Thanks so much for these, Jayqualin ❤️


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