Tips to remember while packing for study abroad



Opinion columnist Alvin Kong, who is writing from abroad in Hull, England, discusses important tips he learned from traveling to his study abroad location.

ALVIN KONG, Opinion Columnist

Studying abroad is a big decision that introduces you to many new experiences and cultures. An important thing you can do beforehand to prepare for your experience is to know what to bring with you on your journey.

I am currently studying abroad in Hull, England, but this should be a well-generalized list for any foreign country you plan to study abroad in. Here are five important things any student studying abroad should prepare to bring before traveling:

  • Clothing

Deciding what articles of clothing you are going to bring is an important step to prepare you for your departure. Although you may want to bring your whole wardrobe, I would highly suggest you bring only the necessary clothing you see fit for the country you’ll be living in. Remember to research the country’s weather before you leave, as you don’t want to pack items from your summer collection for a chilly climate. Here in Hull, the weather seems to bounce between warm and cold quite often with snippets of rain, although it always seems to be mostly cold and rainy.

Also keep in mind that at the end of your Study Abroad experience, you’ll have probably purchased clothes and accessories that you’ll have to fit in your suitcase when you travel back. It is highly suggested to bring only about a week’s worth of outfits and purchase more as you are abroad.

  • Toiletries

I feel as if this section is pretty self-explanatory, but please, please, please remember to pack the four core necessities – Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash and Deodorant. Those may seem like unimportant things, but once you arrive at your destination, you’ll be desperate for a shower after a long plane ride cramped up for hours around other people.

A toothbrush and toothpaste are also important things to bring, as you don’t want your first impression with someone in a foreign country to be, “wow, this person has bad breath.”

I recommend buying one of the travel cases at your local convenience store, as it already comes with both of those, as well as mouthwash. Toilet paper and tissues are also another thing to keep in mind, as some places might not provide these things.

  • Electronics

Let’s face it – long plane and car rides can be pretty boring. You’re either crammed up next to some unknown stranger or stranded without any cell phone service or Wi-Fi. The things that kept me going through long travel durations were a rotation of using my phone, laptop and Nintendo Switch. I’d suggest you download a music streaming services and download the music to one of your devices so that you can listen to it wherever you are.

Another thing I found handy while traveling was carrying a portable charger with me. Although there may be plugs located on the bus or plane, they might not be near where you are sitting. Having a portable charger on me made it more convenient for me to always have my phone available and fully charged.

  • Money

One of the worst things you can do before entering a foreign country is not having any of the local currency on hand. I HIGHLY recommend that you meet with your bank beforehand so that they’ll able to exchange some U.S. currency for some of the destination country’s currency. Also remember to arrange with your bank so that you’ll be able to use your debit or credit card abroad. This is important, because when you run out of cash, you’re able to withdraw more when you need it. Some countries have foreign ATMs but not all do so keep that in mind. Remember to also keep in mind that some banks charge a foreign transaction fee, so I recommend checking with your bank or finding a suitable bank that has cheap international fees. I’ve been using Veridian Credit Union while I am here in Europe and so far everything has gone well for me.

  • Legal Documents

This is the single most important thing on the list. Make sure to always have your passport. While abroad, your passport is the most important document you can have. It signifies that you are a resident of the United States and also works as your identification card. I suggest carrying your passport with you but making sure it is in a safe and secure place. You’ll also need to get an acceptance letter from the university you will be attending, as that’ll be needed to get through customs.

Overall, remember to prepare a list before you leave of what you need to bring and what you do not need to bring. A list can be a lifesaver when you are packing, as it’s easier to check things off rather than rummaging through your suitcase to see if you packed your toothbrush or not.

Also, do not wait until the last minute to pack! If you’re as forgetful as I am, you’ll want to pack at least two weeks before you leave, as you might remember some last-minute things to add to your suitcase throughout your last days before the big trip.