Moving to the USA… and some fragrant musings.


I haven’t posted in a gazillion years, not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve been swamped with my move to the USA. First there were the visa applications, which involved so many bureaucratic processes that I must be wholly covered in sticky red tape at this point. Then there was the packing – how do you fit your entire life for one year in one suitcase that can only weigh 23kg? And finally, there was the meeting up with friends and spending time with family whom I wouldn’t be seeing for an entire year. So yes, blogging kinda took a backseat.

Right now, though, I’m sitting in a room in New Haven, Connecticut, with plenty of time to spare before University Life starts (I’m doing a Masters program at Yale University), so I can share a bit about what it’s like down here. After a grueling flight that lasted more than 24 hours, followed by a 3.5 hour shuttle bus ride from JFK Airport to New Haven, I was exhausted beyond belief. Checking in to the student dormitory wasn’t the breeze I expected it to be, as I had to lug my suitcase up and down three times – the first time I went up, I realised they hadn’t given me the keys to my room, the second time, I thought my keys didn’t fit, so I went down again to get them changed, whereupon they checked and told me that it DID fit, so I went up a third time and voila, fit they did.


I was pretty sure I smelt quite funky at that point, so the first thing I did was to hit the showers. After getting cleaned up, and upon returning to the room, I noticed that the room smelt rather strange (and it still does), with the odor emanating from the mini-fridge that sat in the corner. I suppose that’s what you get when you let mould grow in a fridge and when you leave a jar of mayo to rot over the summer. Not the most fragrant of starts. I cleaned out the fridge, but the smell still remains. I’m just waiting for Tuesday to arrive, when I can take the bus out to the nearest mall (which is an hour away) to perhaps get some room scents from Bath and Body Works.

Then there are the fragrances I brought over. I didn’t bring any full bottles over due to a lack of luggage space, but I packed some decants to hopefully last me the year. It was an agonizing process to whittle down my choices down to 10, but eventually I managed. I made my decisions based on a number of criteria:

  1. Wearability. Would I wear these fragrances often? Being the fickle-minded person that I am, I rarely repeat the fragrances I wear in a month, so the fragrances I chose would have to be those I wouldn’t mind wearing more frequently.
  2. Uniqueness. The fragrances had to be somewhat different from one another. No point choosing 10 vetivers to wear, or 10 tuberoses.
  3. Likeability. I had to really like these fragrances, which seems kind of like a no-brainer, but when you’re limited to 10 choices, you want to make sure that you do feel really happy whenever you wear any of them.
  4. Versatility. These were the fragrances that I had to wear all the time, be it summer or winter, day or evening. They had to be fragrances that I could wear whenever, wherever.
  5. Emotional Resonance. The fragrances have to move me emotionally.

So, what fragrant selections did I make for my stay in the USA?

  • Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

The diva tuberose that always brings me much joy, when I want to smell resplendent and to stand out. I have a thing for tuberose, and Carnal Flower is one of the best.

L’Eau d’Hiver is what I wear when I just want to smell good without offending anyone’s dainty olfactory sensibilities. With its amorphous, sheer haze of iris and heliotrope, it makes for excellent wearing in the heat.

Is there anything quite like bewitching as Ormonde Jayne Woman, with its unique note of black hemlock and woody witchiness?

I wear L’Heure Bleue everywhere, even when I’m out doing grocery shopping. I figure this is the one I’ll run out of first.

  • Guerlain Après l’Ondée

This ethereal beauty is what I pop out when I’m feeling melancholic, sometimes when I’m lonely.

Is there anything quite as cheerful as Séville à l’Aube? This orange blossom bombshell ticks every one of my boxes and lifts my spirits whenever I wear it.

  • Vero Profumo Rozy EDP

There’s something dirty and skanky about this rose that seduces me.

  • Vero Profumo Mito Voile d’Extrait

I had to have at least one green scent with me, and this was it.

Cherry-tinged iris, powder and blush. For a throwback to the past.

  • Le Labo Labdanum 18

My go-to powdery animalic scent that’s like a fur coat (not that I wear fur).

So that was it, my perfume selection for my move to the USA!

What perfumes would you bring along with you if you had to live abroad for a year? What criteria would you use to help you make your choices?

~ The Smelly Vagabond

27 thoughts on “Moving to the USA… and some fragrant musings.

  1. Thanks for the intro to Vero Profumo Mito Voile d’Extrait! (green!green!green!)
    Easy scent choice for me – Chanel no19 extrait which my sis gave me a honking big bottle of in the 90s.
    And.. swab the fridge with vinegar. Disinfect, kills mold and smells good after if you use red wine vinegar, or tarragon, or whichever infused vinegar you find. 🙂

  2. I’m headed to Yale for my sophomore year in a few days, but coming only from MA, and having a fairly small collection, i’m planning on bringing it all. Less than 20 scents, many less than 100 mL. Plus a bunch of samples. I did the same thing last year! Enjoy the campus!

  3. Hey Buddy,
    White Vinegar is the cure all in this house. All the cleaning is done with it, even the bathrooms. Also use it instead of fabric softener, clothes are soft, have ZERO scent and it’s better for the environment too.
    Portia xx

  4. Joshua, I couldn’t begin to tell you what exactly I would take, though Ta’if and Zelda would be in there, maybe Labdanum 18 actually – or Tolu if I had more of it. I agree with your criteria though. The emotional resonance is particularly key when you are away from home. You have also catered for the extremes of weather you will get out there. 😉

  5. I am sure I would buy perfume ”there”. I would take with me:
    a green perfume: Sherrer
    An Iris: Dior Homme (my precious Iris Silver Mist must rest in my cool room at home)
    A floral: Joy
    A dry chypre: Y
    A ”signature” scent: Mille
    A warm chypre: Femme
    All my beloved Guerlains must stay at home: how nice to wellcome them again after that year.

  6. Welcome to the U. S. CT is just a train ride away from NYC. If you’re planning on coming down, do email me and we can have a meet-up sniffa!

    P.S. I have a hard time staying under the luggage weight limit for a week’s vacation! Kudos to your packing prowess and your sacrifices!

  7. First of all – welcome to the U.S. I hope you’ll work out the small quirks quickly. But I have a question: why to limit yourself by 23 kg? I’m positive that whatever you could fit into the second one would cost more to buy here than to pay for additional luggage place. And there’s no way you can live for a year from a single suitcase – unless you plan to study in tropics ; -) ).

    Ten perfumes… Provided that it’s not for a desert island and I could keep testing new things (at least high-end mainstream) and maybe even buy one or two… Three “special occasion” perfumes – Lancome Climat, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if and Amouage Ubar. The rest – to enjoy every day: Chanel Cuir de Russie, Dior Mitzah, Guerlain Cruel Gardénia, Jo Malone Sweet Milk, Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!, Ormonde Jayne Tiare, Eau de Tommi Sooni II.

    • Dear Undina,

      I haven’t actually bought much here beyond basic necessities such as bedding and a kettle. I figured the hassle of carrying all these with me was not worth it! I usually just donate them to Goodwill when I’m leaving.

      I’ve heard good things about Climat but never had the chance to sniff. Ta’if seems to get quite some love, and although I have it I seldom wear it. I’ll have to check out quite a few from your list, such as Sweet Milk and Eau de Tommi Sooni II (what a mouthful).

  8. Fantastic read! I’m traveling Europe/living in Edinburgh 2015 so I will have to go through this same issue then. Planning on taking decants of:
    Leau d’Issey
    Un Jardin Sur Le Nil
    Terre d’Hermes
    Bleu de Chanel
    La Nuit de l’homme

    What are you studying at Yale? How was the admission process as an international student? I was considering trying to sort out a joint-PhD program with Yale so i’d love to hear your thoughts on studying there! 🙂

    • Hey David,

      I sympathise with your situation of having to take only a few fragrances with you!

      I’m currently doing a Masters in International and Development Economics, which is a one year programme. For admissions, you’d have to look up the instructions for whichever department you’re planning on applying to, as each department has specific requirements. I’m pretty sure you’d have to take the GRE, which can be a pain as it’s 4.5 hours long. Studying here is great, as the professors are highly knowledgeable and make good teachers as well. I’m not too sure about research as I’m not doing any research here. New Haven as a town is rather small, so you’d have to travel out to New York if you miss the city!

  9. Pingback: To Wear or Not to Wear? | Undina's Looking Glass

  10. Just popped over from Undina’s to say Welcome to the US! and say that your collection of traveling ‘fumes is a good one. Lots of variety.

    Mentioned farther up that my daughter’s a sophomore at Yale – her collection’s pretty small, but I know she took it with her. We’re 10 hours’ drive away, but I know she took CONSIDERABLY more than 50 pounds of luggage with her… I helped pack the car!

    My husband went off to do his master’s degree in New Zealand in 1991, and I think he kept himself to one small suitcase and a garment bag. Of course, this was before the era of luggage weight restrictions…

    Best wishes for a successful course of study. I’ll be keeping up with you, when you get the chance to post.

    • Hey there!

      I think it’s fab that you and your daughter are both into fragrance! I wish my mum were the same, but she’s not. If only I could have brought my entire collection over at no extra cost! It’s definitely a lot easier with a car instead of a flight. I probably packed like your husband did when he went over to New Zealand. He is a true vagabond indeed!

      Hope to see you around on the blog 🙂

  11. Pingback: I’m BACK! Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse 1 Capricieuse Review | The Smelly Vagabond

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