Today’s post about how to pack before studying abroad is by campus correspondent Connie Ip. Find out how you can become a campus correspondent, too!
When I moved out of my dormitory in May, I looked at my three bulging pieces of luggage that were packed with all the clothing and items I brought with me to college. I was going to study abroad in France for a year; no way was I going to drag them all with me halfway around the world.
A few questions ran through my head: Which suitcases should I bring? How many? One or two? What will I need? What can I do without? What would I miss?
Okay, so it was more than a few questions. I had many thoughts and doubts as to what I was going to bring.
Keep It Simple When You Pack for Abroad!
Packing for a semester or year abroad is an art. It takes time, thought and reflection. The first things I thought of were the items that I usually rely on: shirts, sweaters, jackets and pants that I often wore. Identifying those staple items helped me prioritize my packing list, and I ended up bringing much less than I had to. The less I had to pack in my luggage, the better.
(And one more note: Airlines have restrictions on the amount of luggage you can bring and its weight. Unless you want to pay hefty fees for them, do yourself a favor and pack lightly. The rule of thumb was to keep it simple.)
The first step to packing is to ask yourself the same questions I did. One thing to consider is your destination: Where are you going? What is the weather like? Since I was traveling to the south of France, I knew the weather was going to be warm and that there would be no need for a heavy down coat and bulky sweaters. (I packed them in any case because I anticipated needing them when I traveled to colder regions.)
However, if you’re spending the semester in a country like Norway or Switzerland, you will definitely need that toasty winter gear.
Pack the essentials first. You will be surprised about how little you need. In retrospect, I am glad that I was such a minimalist.
I also recommend that you buy your toiletries before leaving. I stocked up on toiletries so I would not have to purchase them abroad, where they tend to be more expensive than they should be, especially if you are in the euro zone. I packed two economy-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a large bottle of contact lenses solution, packets of toothbrushes, and more. Pack your prescription medicine and eyewear, if applicable.
Bottom line: Just take what you need and what you know you will use. Simplicity is golden!