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8 closet essentials for a semester in Spain 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

In January 2022, I tightly rolled my clothes into a suitcase, said goodbye to friends and family, and departed for a four-month-long semester in Sevilla, Spain. I’d consider myself to be a very independent person, but even so, I was nervous about transitioning to a different culture and lifestyle (more articles to come on this). Since it is so important to feel comfortable and homey while adjusting to life in another country, I was particularly overwhelmed with the packing process. Well, maybe the stress stemmed from the fact that I completed the majority of packing 36 hours before my flight…but either way, I wish I had some more guidance and reassurance. Even if you aren’t planning to study or travel to Spain, these tips are helpful for any long-term packing. Plus, you might end up in Spain for the weekend on a 10-euro RyanAir flight, so here are some study abroad packing essentials for your jet setter closet.

A layer-able coat

During springtime in the south of Spain, locals often compare getting dressed to an onion; it’s all about the layers. In the morning and evening, it can be more chilly, but at midday, the sun beams and you’ll be grateful that you have a light shirt on under that turtleneck! A coat is a must-have to place on top of all your layers, and also for traveling to more chilly parts of Europe. I brought a tailored raincoat that hit mid-thigh which doubled as both a barrier for the rain, as well as a fashionable statement piece that stuck with me from Paris to Dublin. 

An Array of Pants

As with all clothing, it’s important to stick with what is comfortable for you. A few solid pairs of pants will form the basis of your wardrobe in Spain, especially since it is not common to wear shorts. I would recommend a good pair of black pants, linen pants, silky or flowy pants, and two pairs of jeans – without rips!

A sturdy umbrella

Along with some sort of raincoat, an umbrella is so useful, and something that many people on my program were scrambling to find while in Spain. Usually, the south of Spain isn’t known for its rain, but when I was there, it down poured for a good few days and I was beyond thankful for a convenient umbrella!

Comfortable sneakers and boots

My Converse All-Star Moves are always a go-to for me, but I especially appreciated them throughout my study abroad since I walked so much. They go with everything and are so comfortable. The sole is designed similarly to athletic sneakers, so you get to walk miles without blistering – I swear! Also, Converse are extremely popular and classic in Europe, so you can’t go wrong. A few of my study abroad friends even ended up purchasing a pair because of their versatility. Black boots were also a must-have item, and I’d recommend wearing these on the plane to keep their shape and save precious suitcase space!

A skirt and dress

If you’re into dresses and skirts, I would definitely recommend bringing a few flowy garments for the warm weather and any events you may wind up at. Spanish fashion definitely has a more feminine, yet simple, feel so it can be nice to dress up for everyday strolls or the discoteca. Don’t overdo it with packing dresses though; it is much easier to mix and match with pants and skirts than it is with single items like a dress or a jumpsuit. 


The sun blares in the south of Spain, and I wore sunglasses every time I left my residencia. Sunglasses also jazz up any look and don’t take up a lot of room, so feel free to bring a few pairs, you won’t regret it. Sunglasses are also a great item to buy while you are abroad, so no sweat if you don’t have a go-to pair, you will easily find some throughout your travels.   

belts, jewelry, and scarves 

Along with sunglasses, all accessories – from belts to jewelry to scarves – are amazing ways to add to the outfits that you’ll be repeating for months on end. I regret not bringing more accessories with me, but I was able to find some amazing jewelry at local markets which made for great souvenirs. Additionally, a neutral-colored bag with lots of organization will be your loyal sidekick for every excursion.

LOTS of underwear and socks

As with all packing, you’ll need lots of socks and underwear. In particular, you will be so busy that you might not have time to do laundry on a weekly basis. Depending on your living situation, it can be difficult to have regular laundry access, so spare clean underwear and socks are essential. Also, I have never created so many holes in socks than when I was in Europe, and all my abroad friends had the same experience. You walk so much that you shred through pairs of socks, so bring plenty. Long socks, rather than ankle socks, are especially useful as they can be worn with boots, and high-top sneakers, plus, they are easily covered by pants.

So those are my abroad must-packs! I would also recommend that you research cultural festivities that you may partake in; for these, you might want more dressy items such as heels or sandals. Overall, less is more because you will likely shop…a lot…and will be desperate for space in your suitcase while packing for your return flight. You will definitely get tired of your abroad wardrobe, but look forward to reunification with your home closet!

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Honor, Editor-in-Chief of UMass Amherst HC, is a senior honors student majoring in public health and psychology, with a minor in business. In her free time, she loves to explore the outdoors on walks with her dog, listen to music and podcasts, and experiment with new recipes.