Studying abroad is one the most life-changing opportunities you will receive during your college career. Due to the massive amount of preparations, the months leading up to your departure are stressful. Even though getting the necessary paperwork notarized and your passport sent to you via express mail seem like the most challenging parts of getting ready, packing for your semester abroad is also quite an endeavor.
When you are tasked with fitting all of your belongings into one suitcase, it’s difficult to know which clothing items to take and which to leave at home in the good ol’ US of A. To increase efficiency, think of which items could be used for the greatest amount of outfits. For example, take a chunky sweater that can be worn with jeans, leggings, over a collared shirt, under a heavy jacket or with a pair of cut-off jean shorts. Just that one sweater gives you five different outfits. Forget packing that lacey-crop top if you can only wear it with a high-waisted skirt.
Your favorite pieces
You are most likely to create new outfits from clothes pieces you really love. Even if a clothing item has versatility, if you don’t love it, you’re not going to wear it. Unwanted clothes are a waste of valuable suitcase space. As girls, if we really love a garment, we’ll find as many ways as possible to wear it. A suitcase full of our favorite pieces will inspire creativity for new outfits. Even though Mom says we need that bright red raincoat that can also serve as a winter shell and has eight hidden pockets to secretly carry our passport and cell phone, don’t bring it if you’re not going to wear it.
Though a huge part of studying abroad includes raging at foreign clubs and schmoozing with international travelers, filling your suitcase with pumps, stilettos and wedges is not practical. They take up a lot of room and are an easy way to push your luggage over the 50-pound limit. Furthermore, many places like Florence and Barcelona are plagued with cobblestone streets, which are the enemy to heels. Pick one or two pairs that are easy to walk in and will work with all or your party outfits. Also, make sure to check the typical weather of your study abroad destination. If it’s always raining, you’re going to need rain boots. Lastly, don’t forget a pair of sneakers. You will inevitably do a lot of walking and sightseeing and will be longing for a pair of comfy shoes to make the treks.
Lots of undergarments
This may sound silly, but pack lots of socks and underwear. Running out of these items indicates that it’s laundry day. But doing laundry in a foreign country is not the same as it is in the States. Most places do not have dryers and the washing machines, if you are lucky enough to have them in your apartment, they can be smaller than you’re used to. The longer you can go without having to do laundry, the better. This may sound gross and unsanitary, but you’ll realize that laundry is the last thing you’ll want to do while you’re exploring Europe.
The perfect jacket
When traveling to countless new places, you are bound to take a picture at every notable spot. You’ll want to look as cute as possible when posing in front of Big Ben, Trevi Fountain or the Eifel Tower. We’re talking potential profile picture material here. However, if you’re studying abroad in the fall or spring, you’re bound to be traveling in cold weather. And that means having to wear a coat over your perfectly planned outfit. Therefore, pack a coat that you’d be happy sporting in the majority of your pictures. You’re going to regret wearing an ugly jacket in all of your awesome pictures.
There are just a few other items you’ll want to save room for in your overstuffed suitcase. Make sure to pack a good camera, guide books of potential places you will be traveling to and toiletries you may not be able to buy abroad (moisturizer is sometimes hard to find). But don’t fret about packing perfectly. In most cases you can buy what you have forgotten. And remember, you’ll definitely be doing some shopping, so leave a little suitcase space to bring home souvenirs.
Photo by Lauren Johnson