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7 Study Abroad Packing Essentials

For many juniors, there is a light at the end of the finals tunnel and it’s not winter break, but a semester abroad; an entire semester full of site seeing, partying, shopping, and eating your way through some incredible country half way across the world. If you’re looking towards second semester in Europe as you struggle through finals, there’s no better way to procrastinate than by packing. Packing for abroad becomes a skill. Weekend after weekend you’ll struggle with trying to squeeze as many things as possible into your carry-on without going over the weight limit of your budget airline of choice. Here’s a list of a few essential things you need to pack for a semester abroad:

‘Euro’ Jacket

After weeks of searching at home and months of searching in Europe, I was never able to actually get my hands on the perfect ‘Euro’ jacket. No matter where you are in Europe, chances are temperatures won’t get down to the artic single digits here in Wisconsin, so you definitely do not need to pack your bulky winter jacket. Instead, opt for something lighter but warm, like a thin quilted down jacket or a pea coat. Remember, you’re going to be taking 1,000+ pictures in this coat, so make sure it’s cute!


Forever 21 Cool-Girl Biker Coat, $47.80

Winter Accessories

Even if you’re lucky enough to be studying in a country where you’ll be rocking jeans and a tee most of the semester, you’ll be traveling to some colder climates on the weekends. Don’t forget the Wisconsin winter essentials: gloves, a warm scarf, and a (cute) hat. Thirty-eight degrees may sound balmy after the weather we’ve had the last few weeks, but you’ll want to be bundled up for the days spent touring.  

Layering Pieces

Since your jacket will be on the lighter side, layering pieces are a must. My biggest piece of travel advice is to wear a long sleeve shirt under your warmest sweater while visiting colder cities, like Prague, Paris, and Budapest. Layers also give you more outfit opportunities, which is always a plus.

Combat Boots

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how essential combat boots were until I was already in Florence, so I spent the semester borrowing my roommate’s every other day. Combat boots are a great change from the basic black leather boot and the perfect transition piece for early spring.


Steve Madden Troopa Boot, $99.95

Airplane Clothes

When you’re jetting off weekend after weekend, airplane clothes are a must. Make sure to pack a few go-to cute and comfortable pieces that you can throw on for a long day of travel.

Cross Body Bag

I’ll spare you the stories about pickpockets and stolen phones, because I’m sure you’ll hear enough of that from your mothers. Although I had none of these problems, I have friends who did, so a little extra safety can’t help. A small cross body bag is a must-have while abroad, but don’t splurge! You’ll have the opportunity for plenty of good-quality leather shopping while in Europe, so choose an inexpensive bag to start your travels.

Black, Black, and More Black

If you’re not going through a UW program, your grades won’t be transferring back to Wisconsin, so you’ll be tempted to go out every single night. Since we all love taking as many pictures as possible to capture our memories, the perfect way to avoid fashion burnout is to buy black and basic pieces. Look for inexpensive and neutral going out clothes that you can mix up with accessories and wear multiple times while abroad.


Nordstrom ASTR Beaded Faux Wrap Tank, $54.00

For those of you going abroad this spring, I am insanely jealous. Like I said in my final ‘Foreign in Florence’ post last spring, I’d love to give you some advice and lessons learned, but finding out first hand is all the fun of studying abroad. So Badgers, if you’re looking for something to do this week besides study, get packing (or online shopping!). 

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