Hey Saroya, you asked what you needed to prepare for your stage?? Well, here it is.
I packed everything I needed in a large Kelty day pack. I am low maitenance. Here is what my back pack consisted of.
Two pairs of checked pants
Two white t-shirts for under your uniform
one pair of kitchen clogs
7 pairs of underwear
7 pairs of white socks (you only have one day to do laundry)
2 pairs of fancy socks for the sunday sock competition held by the pastry crew
(there is also a sexy leg competition but Jocky wins that one every week. Seriously, I even shaved my legs and lotioned them up once but Jocky still beat me)
3 other t-shirts to wear on your day off
3 little hoodie/sporty type zip ups
one girly tank top for a special occasion
one little girly sweater
one white tank top
one skirt just in case
a bikini, (thank god I didn't need to wear that)
one pair of jeans
One jogging outfit that doubled as a lazy day apartment outfit and pajamas
one pair running shoes
one pair cute puma's
Personal care items
Shampoo and conditioner
toothpaste (the stuff over here tastes like medicine so definately buy this at home)
minimum of make up
If you insist on bringing a hair dryer you will need two converters. One for the socket, and one for the voltage. After you buy both of those then you will have spent the same as buying a cheap hair dryer over here.
Hand lotion (your hands will be destroyed.)
As I learned the hard way, all this WILL explode in your bag if not wrapped up in zip lock bags.
And also remember, you can buy the same stuff over here, it's not that much different than the states. You'll see the same brands, the same items. So if you don't want to waste space transporting this stuff, you can buy it here. But remember, it's twice as expensive.
Tools I used:
5 inch serated knife
tiny tiny scissors
Sharpies (I bought the "professional" sharpies only available in the states. They are coveted by the entire staff and i found mine in Dan's pocket a few times!)
A small notebook and a ballpoint pen.
Tools I took but didn't use:
Large serated knife
What I wished I had:
A knife case to carry all of my knives in. I just had plastic covers, which were really nice. But I wished i had something more than my Tim-buk-tu bag to haul them around in.
Tweezers, for those times you are allowed to plate.
A book to read
A digital camera
an umbrella- I know it's going to be summer, but that won't stop the rain
A few pictures of loved ones for your walls. Trust me, it keeps you sane
Things I didn't bring that I wished I had
a steel for my knives
another cute girly outfit (after being in those frump frump outfits in the kitchen I wished I had something cuter to wear out on sundays. It's nice to feel like a girl at least once a week.)
flip flops or summer sandles
This I definately didn't have enough of. Our american dollars are worth exactly half of a sterling pound right now. And the prices on everything look the same as in america. So If a box of cereal is marked 3.50 over here it's really 7 dollars. And if you think that a 40.00 set lunch at Gordon Ramsey sounds like a reasonable price, it's really 80 dollars.
So here is my budget
Plane ticket- 700 dollars
Tiny tiny room- 600 a month, times 3, is 1800
Food- You will eat most of your meals at the Fat Duck so I have known others that only have butter and jam in their fridges, oddly not even bread. But you will need to feed yourself a couple times a week and have cereal and coffee around. So I spent about 150 on groceries a month.
Transportation- The bus costs 4.25 round trip. A train ride to London costs 25.00. My suggestion is to get the newspaper and buy a beater bike within the first week or two. It will cut down on your travel time to and from work which after 16 hours a day is worth it. And you can get in and out of town and to and from friends houses with ease. You can find one for about 20 to 30 dollars.
Bills back home. I was unable to get out of my 40 dollar gym membership, am paying 10 dollars a month to have my cell phone put on hold, and still have student load and credit card payments. So budget that in also, because these people don't care that you are off having the adventure of your life.
Phone cards. I found a good one that you buy online called Bizon. It is 2.2 cents a minute from the UK to the USA but you have to purchase it on a buisness day so plan ahead. I tried a few that ended up being 20 dollars for an hour. They advertise low rates, but then charge you connection fees, toll free toll's, and more. If you have a computer then you can download Skype and talk through your computer. That is really cheap too. But you are going to feel alone and isolated for a little while, so you will be longing to call family and friends. (If you can do it a cell phone over here is something to look into. I think you can get a prepaid one for very cheap and just use it to text for free. It's nice when you start to have some friends here to be able to communicate with them)
Dinner at The Fat Duck. 250.00. You can't come to this restaurant and not eat here, and you can't eat here and not have the tasting menu. I did this at the end of my trip. So I sat down to a familiar meal and finally understood what everything I had done for 2 months was leading up to. It was however, missing something. It was missing that awe striking feeling like, "holy fucking shit I can't believe food can be like this!!" But I did have a deeper understanding of every garnish, why flavors were paired like they were, and each process that led to why the food was so amazing, and was able to recognize every component in each dish (the waiters dont tell you). But I spent the first few weeks in awe like that just watching from the kitchen.
Beer. You will be going out to the pub, then another pub, and sometimes another one after that. The taxi's are expensive, and the beer sounds cheap, but it's consistantly 6 or 7 dollars after the exhange rate. This is where the cute girly outfits might pay off. You can wield your cute american accent and flash a little somethin-somethin and hope for your drinks to be purchased for you by some unsuspecting brittish lad. Not that I did this. I went out in tshrts and jeans and was once told that I wasn't a girl, I was a chef and that made me a dude. (Thanks Theis, you sure know how to make a girl feel good.)
I spoiled the guys by baking them good old american cookies on my days off sometimes. Usually Chocolate chip, and once peanut butter with chocolate. It's a sure way to make friends and you know they will remember your name after that!! Besides, I am kinda a granny like that.
So this is the bare minimum of what I spent money on.
There are trips to London, picknicks along the river, and any other kind of fun you want.
But without anything fun, you will need just to get here, put a roof over your head, and eat a little, you will need to start with 3,500 dollars. That is literally just for the basics. Anything else is going to go on your credit card or sucked out of savings. That is beer, restaurants, and anything that could be labeled as fun.
So is that what you were looking for?? It takes about 24 hours to get door to door. So anything you pack with you will have to be carried through three airports, two train stations, and a taxi ride, and then home again. Jet lag sucks, but don't fight it. Just get here a few days early and over sleep. You are in for the shock of your life the first week. The hours are grueling. But you are so busy and stimulated with work that they fly by.
Next thing you know you will be giving advice to a future stagiere and crying a tear of nostalgia.