15 Little Things A Collegiette Should Have When Studying Abroad

What could be better than earning college credits while travelling (besides maybe it being cheaper to do so)?

Studying abroad is one of the most special experiences you can have during your college career, but it requires a lot of planning and preparation. Researching where you’re going and packing practically is essential. Will it be hot? Cold? What are the gender roles and cultural norms of your host country? How long will you be gone? These are all things to consider when deciding what to bring. Here’s a quick list of 15 things not to forget before setting off on your grand adventure, regardless of the destination.

1. A fashionable (but functional) bagNothing too big, nothing too small. Keep in mind that pickpockets are everywhere, so it is best to have a bag that goes across your body over your shoulder so that you can keep it to your side or front. Two words: messenger bag. If you’re rocking a purse, make sure it has a zipper. The last thing you need is someone stealing all of your valuables!

2. CameraAn absolute must for documenting your adventures. Phones just won’t do these scenes justice.

3. Small first-aid kit and medicineSometimes things like bandages or Tums aren’t as easy to get abroad as they are back home. Make sure to bring some basic medical supplies with you for things like headaches, cramps, upset stomach, cold and flu and minor injuries. Better to be safe than sorry!

4. Portable beauty suppliesDon’t bring your entire bathroom with you overseas. There’s no need to pack every shade of eyeshadow or lipstick you have, just your favorites. Keep your regimen simple and easy to bring along with you for touch-ups on the go.

5. Simple, versatile and preferably cheap accessoriesYou don’t want to risk having any real jewelry ripped off, so consider investing in some cheap knockoff jewelry if you haven’t already. It’s hard to go wrong with some simple fake diamond and pearl studs and a cute necklace or two. Find things that you can wear with anything and stick to those.

6. Something to snuggle withHomesickness while abroad happens. Bring along your favorite blanket and/or stuffed animal to hold when you need it.

7. Puzzle books, playing cards, etc.Sudoku is my personal guilty pleasure on plane rides. Other people prefer word finds or crosswords. They’re inexpensive and can usually be found in airports. Also, card games are a good way to entertain yourself and bond with others without wasting the battery on your phone.

8. JournalIn addition to your camera, journaling is a great way to document where you went, what you did and what your feelings were while abroad. It’ll be a memento to keep forever and a great way to jot down the little things you might forget, such as the name of your favorite waiter.

9. Photos of the people you loveAgain, homesickness sucks. Keep your loved ones close by bringing along some cherished photos of your family, friends, significant other or pets.

10. Your favorite candy or snackTreat yo’self. It’s a long plane ride, and you may not be able to find your favorite candy bar easily while you're abroad.

11. BooksFor academics and for pleasure. Have a novel you’ve been meaning to read? Bring it along with you. It can keep you occupied on the plane and during downtime.

12. An English to ___ dictionarySurprise! There’s a good chance you’ll encounter people that don’t speak English while you’re away. For good measure, you may want to bring along a dictionary just in case.

13. Travel guide and mapsSometimes Google fails and technology dies. Have some maps and tourist guides on hand to help you navigate where you are.

14. Inflatable travel pillowFor planes, trains and automobiles! They may look silly, but at least you won’t have a kink in your neck after trying to sleep upright.

15. Comfortable insoles and moleskinWe ladies are gluttons for punishment when it comes to our uncomfortable shoes. I could tell you to leave them at home, but there’s a good chance you won’t listen to me. So, to keep your feet from bleeding, aching or blistering, it’s probably a good idea to bring some insoles and moleskin. They’re cheap and easy to get at a pharmacy before you leave.

One of the most important things to remember to pack is your sense of adventure! Study abroad may seem intimidating at first—you're encountering a new culture, different foods and probably a foreign language. The key is to immerse yourself and approach the experience with an open mind. There's a reason why studying abroad is one of the No. 1 things every college adviser tells you to do. Enjoy your trip and be safe, collegiettes!