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What Should I Pack? Study Abroad Essentials

December 18, 2012

So you’ve been accepted to study abroad and you’re ready to go to an exciting and faraway destination. You’ve registered for classes, you’ve secured your visa, and you’ve booked your flight — now you just have to pack. But… what on earth are you supposed to bring? There are numerous “what to pack for study abroad” lists out there, but most leave out some important items, like…

  1. Your thinking cap. This is STUDY abroad, remember? Take as many opportunities to learn as you can — both inside and outside the classroom. Ask your host family about the history of the town you live in. Join a local music group, book club, or sports team and get to know the host culture first-hand. Take a cooking class. Volunteer in your community. And of course… don’t forget to actually go to your classes.

  2. An open mind. Say yes! Try new things! Step out of your comfort zone! Be open not only to exciting adventures, but to the realization that people may think or feel differently from you, or that everything may not be as you expected. Which brings us to the next item you should pack…

  3. Memories from home. The (shocking!) truth is, study abroad isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There might come a time when you feel homesick — it’s a normal part of spending a semester overseas. So don’t forget to pack some small items from home to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling blue. Bring a DVD of your favorite movie, tack up photos of loved ones in your new room, or create a music playlist that makes you think of home. The best part? You can share all of these things with your new study abroad friends!

  4. Your sense of humor. One of the best parts about studying abroad is the knowledge that you will inevitably commit a cultural faux pas. Whether you inadvertently ask a passerby for war instead of the train station or accidentally mistake the men’s bathroom for the women’s (both true stories), you are probably going to make a mistake or two. And you know what? It’s okay! Mistakes are part of the learning process, so there’s no sense in stressing. Have a good laugh and treasure the fact that you will have an entertaining (albeit mildly embarrassing) story to tell to all of your friends.

  5. Flexibility. Face it. You’re probably going to forget to pack something. Fortunately, that’s when your problem-solving skills kick into action! If you’ve forgotten your [INSERT CRUCIAL ITEM HERE], you will either learn to adapt to life without it, or figure out a suitable alternative. Being flexible will not only help you pack your suitcase, but you’ll have an easier time interacting with locals from your host country, too.

Looking for more packing suggestions? Check out our travel tips on our Pinterest board here. And if you’ve got a study abroad packing list of your own, share it with us! Submit a blog post.

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