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Study Abroad 101: What To Pack For Your Semester Overseas
Here are the top five items you won’t be able to live without during your semester abroad.
If you get the chance to study abroad, take it! Spending a semester overseas as a college student is exciting and often even life changing. Experiencing new languages, museums, music, food, and more can expand your world. But it can also be stressful, especially when it comes to filling your suitcase. What to pack? You’ll be living in a foreign country that likely has a different climate and sense of style than the U.S.—plus, you’ll probably be on the road a lot taking weekend trips, so you’ll need to bring items that are light, comfortable, and easy to transport. The good news: With a little help from this handy list, you’ll have no problem packing everything you’ll need for a semester to remember.
When you stumble upon a breathtaking view of the ocean in Australia, try escargot for the first time in Paris, or learn to tango in Buenos Aires, what’s the first thing you’ll want to do? Take a picture, of course! To make sure you capture every moment of your trip, don’t forget to pack a camera. If you’re worried about it (or another expensive electronic item) getting stolen, secure the bag you keep it in with a Travel Safe TSA lock. If you use your iPhone as your camera, checkout 10 Tips For Better iPhone Photos on how to take better iPhone pictures.
2. Travel Backpack
While abroad, you’ll likely be on the go, exploring nearby towns, cities, and countries. So don’t let a heavy, clunky suitcase get in the way of jumping on and off trains and planes. A backpack keeps your hands free and won’t get caught on any pesky cobblestones. A large, but light and lean, backpack is a good choice because it’s easy to store in a hostel locker. Also, definitely look for a bag with a reflective trim, so it’s safe to wear it while walking or biking down busy roads in the evening.
3. Comfortable (and Stylish) Shoes
The best way to get a feel for a city is by foot—so be prepared to do lots of walking. Flip-flops, high heels or stiff men’s dress shoes aren’t going to cut it, because they’re likely to lead to blisters and foot pain. Instead, pack a pair of comfortable shoes, such as sneakers, boots, or stylish walking shoes. that won’t make you squeal in pain after hours of sightseeing. The best plan is to pack multi-purpose shoes that are comfortable enough to wear for long walks, but also something you’d feel comfortable wearing during a night on the town. Comfortable but fashionable shoes have come a long way in the past few years. Packing fewer pairs of shoes to fulfill your footwear needs will be a huge space saver in your luggage!
4. Basic Colors
As tempting as it may be to try, fitting your entire wardrobe into one 50-pound suitcase just isn’t going to happen. To save space, buy some packing cubes, and then fill them with a few of your favorite shirts and pants. Choosing items that are all part of a similar color scheme (such as pieces that are black, gray, and denim) will make creating multiple outfits much easier. Check out this video on how to pack 10 days in a carry-on bag.
Male Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17cx9HP0StY
Female Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3LFyP_HSoA
5. Smart Phone
Voice, texting, and data plans while abroad can be expensive. But even if you don’t pay for those, it’s still a good idea to bring your smart phone with you, because its many other uses are invaluable on the road. Listening to music and playing games such as Hearts help pass the time on long bus, train, and plane rides. If you encounter free WiFi at hostels, hotels, or coffee shops, you can also use your phone to surf the net, use apps to translate languages or currencies, and keep in touch with friends and family members at home. Check out all of our favorite travel apps on our Travel Tips & Packing List page.
Amanda Slavinsky is a freelance writer and serial expat currently traveling around Asia. She blogs about life abroad at http://www.farsicknessblog.com.