Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tips for Studying Abroad: Part 2


One of the frequently asked questions about study abroad isn't the experience it is going to grant you in your academic career, but what to bring. It is certainly a very stressful experience to pack for a semester into one suitcase and a carry-on. Of course, you can bring another suitcase (or 2), but that is very costly, and you probably won't have that much space to put everything you are bringing. 
For example: I lived for 4 months in a tiny apartment with five other girls. We had three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a kitchen. There was limited storage; no dressers, shelves, or hangers for all of us, or to accommodate everything each of us brought. In total, my room was about 8' x 9' with a 3' x 7' bathroom; the kitchen was about 5' x 9'. So needless to say, our American lifestyle had to be adapted to our living arrangements; especially when 6 people are crammed into an apartment for 4 months.
I hope this doesn't hinder you from studying abroad, but every experience is different; living situations included. 

So, what should you bring and how to decide. Here are some steps on deciding what to bring:

  • Look at what you use daily. Moisturizer, face wash, make-up, medication, etc. Take things that you will need while abroad. If you don't use specific brands, buy them at a super market once you get there; but be sure to bring a toothbrush, you never know when you will get to the store. Also, bring travel sized things for your carry-on to use until you do go to the store; i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, body/face wash, conditioner, lotion. 
  • Take a look at the temperature and climate. Since I knew I wanted to go to Rome, Italy a year before I went, I kept track of the temperature so I would know what to bring. You don't want to assume that the spring semester in another country will be devilishly hot, when in reality you arrive in January when its cold, wet, and rainy. The best way to deal with climate changes is layering. That way you won't bring excess clothing. 
  • Be respectful of local culture. In other countries, wearing certain types of clothing, i.e. too short shorts; is seen as disrespectful. Make sure you understand and know what type of clothing you should be wearing in the country you plan to live in. 
  • Think outside the box. You might forget the little things, like cell phone chargers, headphones, laptop chargers, female products, etc. You will be studying abroad, therefore taking classes, so make sure you have things like pens, paper, notebooks, etc. Also, I brought plastic shopping bags for garbage, ziplocks & plastic food containers for food, reusable grocery bags (you get charged 10 euro in Rome per bag), Advil and nail clippers. Ask people who have been to these countries to see if they have anymore tips about what you will need.
Now what should you bring? Depending on the length of your trip, the country you are staying in, and where you are going; along with your personal style and tastes; what you will bring depends on what you use and need. 


Accessories & Necessities:
  • Cash, credit cards, ATM card, passport, visa-- have copies of all these, one to carry with you, the other hidden in your place where you live-- in case of loss; as for cash, have some American cash with you for when you go home, in case you need to buy some food during a layover
  • Papers school gave you-- where you will be studying and living, flight information
  • Travel sized: toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash-- put these in your carry-on
  • Toothbrush, deodorant, sunscreen, floss, chapstick
  • Advil, and any other medication you need; Rx, allergy meds, etc.
  • Band-aids, q-tips, feminine products, cotton balls, travel size tissues-- bring a small amount of these things, you may need them. 
  • Ziplocks, food containers (2-3), plastic bags, reusable grocery bag
  • Make-up, nail polish and any brand specific products; you may not be able to find your certain shampoo or mascara, its better to be safe and bring it along; or look for a Sephora in the city you are staying in (Rome had a couple Sephora's)
  • Laptop, camera, cell phone, iPod & their chargers
  • Adapters & converters-- if you leave the U.S., the outlets will NOT fit, you will need to buy an adapter and converter in order to charge your devices; make sure to get the right ones for the right country you will be in
  • Power Strip-- it would be great to have a power strip so you can use multiple outlets at once, without buying multiple adapters and converters; plus, in my apartment, each one of use only had about one outlet per person.
  • Umbrella- an umbrella is a great thing to have, unless you are going some place where it never rains, let's stick to what mom says, "It's better to be safe than sorry."
  • School supplies- books, notebooks, pens, pencils, paper; whatever you use for taking notes and doing homework. 
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, razor, hair brush, hair ties, headbands
  • Water bottle-- if the water is drinkable, bring one, then you don't have to waste money buying water
  • Sunglasses, glasses or contacts (if needed)
  • Towels (2)-- you may not have towels provided for you!
  • Hairdryer, hair curler, hair straightener 
  • Batteries (for camera, or anything else you bring that needs it)
  • Rick Steve's Book (or any travel book) & a map
Clothing:
  • Underwear, Bras & Socks: I would bring enough for 2-3 weeks; you don't know how often you can do laundry, plus in Europe everything is air dried
  • Tops: 3-5 camis in white & black; 5-7 blouses; 3-5 tees; 3-5 sweaters; 2-3 cardigans-- again layering is key, make sure that you have warm cardigans & light ones, as well as warm sweaters
  • Jackets: winter coat, rain coat (or just an umbrella- personal preference), medium weight jacket, blazer (for dressy occasions), light weight jacket (can be a cardigan)
  • Bottoms: 3-5 long pants- jeans (can be rolled as capris); dress pants; Personally, I didn't bring shorts- but if you do, bring 2-3
  • Shoes: dress shoes (non-heels- especially in Italy- cobblestone roads); sneakers, comfortable everyday walking shoes
  • Pajamas: 3-5 tee shirts, 2-3 pants/yoga pants
  • Dress- fancy one (if you want)
Hopefully this long list helps a little. Be sure you pay attention to things you normally use and wear, you will want to pack these. Be smart with your packing, only bring enough clothes for two weeks- and remember you can wear pants 3-4 times, and shirts 2-3 times (unless you sweat a lot). The next part will be about culture shock & what to expect, stay tuned!


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