Study Abroad Prep: Operation Packing

With Spring semester fast approaching, I know that a lot of you girls are looking ahead to your study abroad semesters. Packing may seem a long time off yet, but as an exchange student myself, trust me when I say it’s more stressful than you think. Packing as minimally as you possibly can - I’m talking one 50lb suitcase here - yet also preparing for an upcoming season in an unfamiliar climate, taking enough stuff to remind you of home, remembering all those essentials you never even think about (trust me, you do not want to be stuck searching for shower gel or shampoo just hours after spending an entire day travelling to your destination of choice), and looking good enough to attract all those hot foreign boys? Talk about traumatic. Don’t worry, though, because it IS possible! Here are my top tips for packing for your study abroad stay.
1. Be sure to bring lots of photos of your friends & family from home. This is kind of an obvious one, but seriously, sticking them up on your wall is the first thing you’re going to want to do when you’re faced with blank walls in a strange new country.
2.  Along those lines...other things to put on your walls. You’ll collect stuff while you’re there, sure, but empty walls can get depressing and it’s nice to have little things to remind you of home surrounding you while you study. A cute idea might be to get friends to write you messages on little postcards before you leave, so that you can stick them up and read them whenever you’re feeling a little homesick.
3. A weekend bag. Chances are you’re gonna want to do some exploring around wherever you’re living, and that huge suitcase you crammed all your stuff into is just not going to cut it. Plus, taking one of those small, roll along suitcases on the plane with you as carry-on luggage allows for extra packing space!
4. Snacks from home. Case and point: the drawer full of Cadbury’s chocolate in my room.
5. Towel. If you’re travelling to somewhere far away, chances are you’re going to want to shower pretty much as soon as you arrive, and you don’t want to be having to hunt down towels before you can do so.
6. Most importantly, leave the bulky stuff at home. Going somewhere cold? Wear your jacket on the plane, or buy it when you get there. Same deal for shoes. It’s cheaper to buy a new pair of boots than to pay for overweight luggage.
7. Plug adaptors! If you’re going from the USA to Europe or vice versa, you are definitely going to need travel adaptors. Buy multiples, too - you’d be surprised at how much you need to have plugged in all at the same time. Plus, if you’re anything like me, those things have a habit of disappearing. (Note: make sure the ones you buy fit the country you’re going to - the UK, for example, uses totally different plugs to continental Europe)
8. A webcam! Skype is a lifesaver in those moments where all you want to do is talk to someone who actually knows you. A video camera is useful, too, if you have one or want to buy a new one; recording video messages for your friends at home is super fun and video can always capture moments better than pictures. This works both ways; videos of your friends at home will make you feel more connected to them, and then when you do get back, videos of your time abroad will always be able to take you right back there in an instant.
9.  Finally: remember to change up some currency before you leave! It doesn’t need to be a lot, but arriving in a brand new place and having no cash on you is always a scary prospect. Already having cash means that you don’t need to worry about international charges from your credit card company or ATM, and besides, the earlier you can start getting used to a new currency, the better!
Happy packing!