By: Guest On: February 9, 2012 In: Campus Correspondents, Study Abroad Comments: 0

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!

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8 years ago

Actually, I disagree. I lived abroad in the Middle East for two semesters and the one thing you should NOT pack are toiletries. Firstly, theyre significantly heavier than anything else you can pack, taking up space for essentials. While the prices may be more abroad, often-times they’re not, and only by a few dollars. More importantly, the shampoos are PH balanced for the country they’re sold in. Girls who brought American shampoo with them noticed their hair falling out, excessive dandruff, etc. But do bring all medications, because those are ridiculously more expensive and cannot be shipped internationally [unlike toiletries, which are, at most, only a few dollars more.]