Welcome back to this lovely post about the preparation process of studying abroad. Let’s go over a few things you have already done(still in the process of doing):
- Spoke with your study abroad advisor
- Applied for study abroad program
- Looking for scholarships for your program
- Been accepted into a program
- Filed and completed all required paperwork for visa
- Renewed or received your passport
- Purchased plane ticket
Now that you have done(0r not) all of the above, the time of packing and further preparation is well on its way!
My first advice is, DO NOT OVERPACK.
Now, you may ask, “What is overpacking?” Overpacking is placing those extra pairs of shoes into your bag or multiple sweaters and/or jewelry into your suitcase. Remember that shirt you purchased a few years ago and you STILL do not wear it? How about those pair of jeans form freshmen year of college? Well, if it is not suitable for all FOUR seasons, I would keep it in storage. Honestly, clothes are clothes and before packing clothes, just pack your essentials. Also, clothes just depend on your travel season. If you know you will be there right smack middle of winter, well, I’d bring one winter coat but not many since the harsh winter will be over soon. That is, unless you will be living in a year-round frigid location, in which case, best of luck to you. If you are staying for a year, look up the country’s normal climate and adjust accordingly to its seasons. Next, here is what I personally think are the essentials for:
- Personal toothbrush(dentist prescribed) and toothpaste
- Perhaps your host country does not sell your brand; therefore, just bringing along your own brand will save you some issues in the future.
- Couple Shirts, Few Pairs of Pants, Formal Clothing, One Or Two Pairs of Shoes (Running/Casual), and a Outer Jacket
- Packing one thing of formal clothing might be a good thing. You never know when you will need to attend something that needs a dress/suit and tie.
- That extra pair of pants or outer jacket could mean an overpacked suitcase, and I am pretty sure you do not want to pay the extra money for heavy luggage. Again, this varies of person to person, but I would recommend packing light with the clothes. Who knows, your style might change while abroad and end up buying clothes over there anyways! Think it won’t happen to you, well think again! I wished I brought along an empty suitcase for the souvenirs and other goodies I bought in Japan. My style shifted quite a bit, but hey, it was worth it because I learned that I can wear more variety of clothes these days!
- Extra Camera Memory Cards
- Memories are cool but perhaps you want to have physical proof of your time abroad. Remember to pack your camera in your carry on and bring along a few memory cards!
Here was my list for carry-on luggage. Again, these items vary from person to person.
- Passport, ID, and Tickets
- Please, please, please, do NOT go to the airport without these essentials. Sounds ridiculous, but when you arrive at the airport thinking you have something and you don’t, well, let us just say things could get hectic. Also, ALWAYS keep these items in an area which is easily accessible to you but hidden from others. Not every where is a haven, so please be careful about these belongings.
- Phone, laptop, headphones, and chargers
- Okay, so this varies for everyone. For me, I required my laptop to finish work and it was more convenient to finish work and for communication. Instead of purchasing a new phone abroad, I simply turned off my data and put into airplane mode and used the public Wi-Fi spots. As for headphones, those were brought along with me for the plane ride.
- Cash Money
- Keeping things on a card these days is popular; however, it would not hurt if you kept a few paper bills with you during the plane ride and first couple days within landing. The airport will have currency exchange offices, but it is nice to play it safe.
- Glasses, contacts, solution, and cases
- You would be surprised of how many friends of mine would forget his/her glasses on top of the drawer right before leaving for a plane trip.
- Skincare Products/Mask/Toiletries
- The inside of a plane is one of the most infested places you can quarantine yourself in. I recommend taking a few Vitamin C pills before take-off and wearing a germ mask would also help. Pre-departure time is the time which will affect your landing health; so please, for your safety, take care of yourself during the plane ride.
- Put all your small bottles of skincare into a plastic bag. I’m not quite sure what sizes are allowed on board, so you please check before packing. I’d bring moisturizer, wet wipes, and chapstick.
- PLEASE CHECK YOUR COUNTRY’S MEDICAL PRESCRIPTION LAWS
- Some countries, such as Japan, do not allow anything with a stimulant or codeine in its ingredients. Just make sure you read through the laws, but please do bring medicine which you think you may need.
- An Extra Change of Clothes
- You never know what will happen, so an extra set of clothes might be one heck of a lifesaver.
- Journal, Pen, and Pencils
- Looking back on your adventures sure does make for one long night filled with nostalgia. Why not record your travel adventures in a small compact journal? Sure, you could do this via computer, but what happened to just a pen and paper?
This was my list of carry-on and check-in items. If there were more that you would suggest, please comment away! I’m sure you could pack fewer items or even more, but for me this was enough. I knew my bad habit of over-packing and just reduced the amount of work I would have to do after landing, traveling around a foreign country with too many bags. If you are like me, think of the following situation: you just landed, you have two suitcases, a carry-on, and you still have to find your dorm and or pick-up person. Say the suitcase weighed about fifty pounds (20kg) each and your carry-on about 15 pounds (5.5kg), would you like to be the struggling traveler in this situation?
Save yourself the trouble…
Pack lightly, assume you will buy items abroad, and have fun. My post today is not one to scary people off, but simply put, a word advice. I am by no means an expert; however, these are just things I struggled with during my study abroad program. People think the hardest part of studying abroad is being in the actual country, wrong. In my personal opinion, I believe the pre-departure for both going to and returning from said country puts me in the struggle bus. Your time abroad will be fun, that is, if you put forth the effort and energy. My goal here is to help your preparation, because prep-work may or may not release some of the stress you are feeling.
From here, this is the journey to which you make on your own. There will people along the way whom you will meet, befriend, or pass by; however, whatever relationship you make will be up to your own discretion. The world is seen through an array of lenses and through traveling abroad you can broaden the chapters in your book of life. Where ever you choose to go, I hope this has been just a tad bit helpful. Best of luck and until next time~