How To Pack for Study Abroad
Full disclosure - I haven't even started packing for my quarter abroad yet. I'm set to study abroad in Vienna this spring, and I couldn't be more excited! As finals begin to approach and the reality of living in a different continent becomes more and more tangible, I've started to think about how exactly I'll get everything I need to get to Europe. After asking around for advice from upperclassmen who have been through the experience, I think I'm ready.
1. Do research on the climate you'll be in, pack accordingly.
Vienna in the spring crosses late winter, spring, and early summer seasons - meaning I'll be packing jackets, sweaters, boots - and dresses, sandals, and shorts. I'll probably end up taking a larger suitcase and a duffle bag to ensure that I have the right clothes for the right weather.
2. Don't take more than 2 suitcases.
Imagine the stress of trying to run around in O'Hare or Midway with three gigantic suitcases trying to make a flight. Now imagine if you're in an airport you've never been before, you don't speak the language, and you're by yourself - or with other students who have just as much luggage as you do. Thankfully, 10 weeks isn't too long to survive on minimal clothing.
3. Bring some light stuff to customize your new dorm room.
Without bringing huge pillows or items that will just take up extra space in your luggage, make sure to slip in some small posters or pictures to make your new room feel a bit more like home.
4. Leave space for stuff you'll pick up while abroad.
Packing your bags full of clothes and items from home will leave no space for anything that you want to buy while abroad. I'd be crushed if I had to buy another piece of luggage to fit new clothes or worse, have to leave clothes behind to fit in new ones.
5. Bring sturdy walking shoes.
So underrated. The Athens Civ program, for example, is well known for having a lot of hiking excursions as a part of the academic programming they offer. Running shoes will be your friend in this case - they'll be lighter, smaller, and more fashionable than hiking boots. For most other programs, you can expect there will be walking tours of some sort, so plan on bringing comfortable shoes to protect your feet.
6. Make sure you have the products you need before you leave the US.
International shipping is expensive. If you're running low on your favorite tinted moisturizer or cleanser, make sure to stock up before leaving the US. No need to bring basic shampoo and soap though - they'll just take up space in your luggage and you'll be better off buying it once you're at your location.
7. Don't forget the essentials.
While traveling in a new country, make sure you have the tools you need to communicate - even if you don't speak the language! Important paper materials like a pocket dictionary for the local language, and a map of where you'll be staying, will come in handy when you have to use them. Though it might seem like inconsequential items, having the resources to navigate and communicate in an environment where your cell phone might not even work will help you in emergency and non-emergency situations.
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