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What To Pack If You Go To Study Abroad

When moving to a new country to study abroad, sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier if our destination could come to us or if our closets were just complex origami structures that we could flatten and then fold back out again to avoid carrying heavy suitcases.

This isn’t possible, though. If you want to spend a year abroad, you’ll have to pack everything you think you’ll need. But don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems at first. Here are some ways to stay organized when you start packing your suitcases.

Bring little!

This first one will be more difficult than it looks. Since you’ll probably have to pay to bring a suitcase on your flight, you should try to only bring one. One good thing about doing this is that it will help you set priorities and not just take things because you want to. Think about the pros and cons of taking each item as you plan what to bring. For example, no matter how much you like your complete works of Shakespeare collection (pro), you probably won’t need it (unless you’re a Shakespeare scholar), but it will help your case a lot (con). So, it’s best to leave that portfolio at home or find a middle ground (a lighter edition or e-book version maybe).

Get good at making lists.

Writing lists has helped me as I’ve been getting ready to move to the Netherlands. These lists have subheadings that say “each room of the house” so I can keep track of what I need to take from each room. Not only is crossing things off a list satisfying, but each red tick means I’m one step closer to reaching my goal.

Your lists will also help you once you get there, because they will show you quickly what you forgot to pack and need to buy. list can have extra boxes for things you need to buy, like a duvet and light bulbs, that didn’t fit in your luggage.

Prepare for every season.

There’s no point in bringing clothes that won’t work for the weather where you’re going. Look through your closet, learn about the area, and make a list of everything you own that would be good for the seasons you’ll be there. Some places will find this easier than others. In the UK, for example, the seasons tend to blend together, so you might need a raincoat, a sweater, and a pair of shorts even in the summer.

There could be other things to think about when picking out clothes. I’m buying clothes that are good for cycling because you need a bike to get around Amsterdam and a lot of my longer skirts will probably get caught in the wheels.

Give yourself some things that mean a lot to you.

It’s okay to have trouble packing, because it’s always hard to leave home. As you take apart your room, you’ll find lots of little things that remind you of your friends and family. This will make you feel nostalgic and emotional. Make sure you leave a little space in that (not big enough) suitcase so you can pack some photos, a journal, or letter writing supplies so you can write to your family and friends once you’re settled in at university. Having that comfort will help a lot, especially in the beginning when you miss home the most. Over time, you’ll get used to being away from home, and you’ll look forward to seeing everyone even more during the holidays.

What to put in your carry-on bag

Hand luggage is just as hard to pack as your main suitcase. This is because, if your brain is anything like mine, you’ll get in the habit of putting things in your hand luggage that won’t fit in your suitcase but you really want to take. In the end, this isn’t really possible, so use the same list-making and pros and cons-weighing method.

No matter how long the trip is, whether it’s by plane, train, or boat, you’ll be pretty tired when you get there, so you probably won’t unpack right away. Make it easy for future you to find your toiletries, medications, and nightwear in your carry-on, as well as any cables, chargers, or other electronic devices you can’t live without (don’t forget travel adapters!)

Start as soon as possible, not later.

It’s probably obvious, but it takes time to pack, especially for something as important as this. The sooner you finish it, the more time you’ll have to hang out with friends or spend time with family before you leave. Even though my year abroad isn’t starting for a few more weeks, I already know what to pack and have everything I need close by. I can spend the next week reading, crossing things off my summer bucket list, and sleeping (I need to catch up!). Starting early also gives you more time to order anything you realize you need at the last minute, so get started!

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