It can be overwhelming when attempting to put everything you’re going to need to live for four months in one or two suitcases. There’s clothing for different seasons, school supplies, towels, toiletries, shoes, and various comforts from home. It’s difficult to know what’s worth packing and what you should wait to buy when you arrive. Here are some packing tips I wish I’d had before studying abroad at Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany:
If you find yourself with a little bit of space left in your checked luggage, try to fit a couple plastic plates or some Tupperware in there. One of the first things you’re going to want to do upon arrival is get some basic food. It’ll go a long way for you to be able to already have basic utensils to eat with.
For a lot of study abroad students, bringing a bulky winter jacket is impractical; it takes up too much space and it’s difficult to gauge what type of jacket will be most useful when going to a foreign country. Instead of packing a huge winter jacket, try packing everything else you’ll need for winter: gloves, a thick scarf, beanies, legwarmers, sweaters, etc. By having a variety of layers, not only can you save space, but you are more prepared to dress for a variety of seasons. Especially in Germany, the weather is likely to change throughout the day. When it comes time that you need a heavy duty jacket, there are plenty of cheaper shops such as Primark that offer a variety of winter jackets.
Some things such as notebooks and pens can be easily found in town at stores like McPaper. However, pencil pouches tend to be slightly more expensive in Germany so bring one with you! When it comes to books, if you are able to pick your classes before arriving, it’s important to know that in German university, the professors expect that you have read all of the required readings before the class begins. This is probably different from most American universities, so if you haven’t had time to do this, consider investing in a Kindle and downloading all the required readings before leaving. They’ll probably need you to bring the readings in to class, and no one has space for 12 heavy novels when packing.
Should I Bring This?
For all those random extra bits that you’re on the fence about, here are some miscellaneous things I wish I had thought to pack:
- Water bottle (water isn’t free at restaurants and water fountains are a rarity)
- Labeled pepper spray (in Europe, pepper spray is only legal if it has an official label that states it’s for use on dogs)
- Extra razors
- Mini First Aid kit that is tailored to your specific needs such as medicines you take often. (In Germany, even medicine that doesn’t need a prescription has to be given to you by a pharmacist directly. If your language skills aren’t very strong, it’s probably easier to have things like Ibuprofen already on hand.)
Part of gaining confidence in a new country is feeling prepared, and hopefully these short tips will help you feel more prepared upon arrival in Germany or any other European country!
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