Packing for a Study Abroad

By Samantha Corr

Last year I did a study abroad. Before leaving, my biggest concern was how to pack as little as possible for those four months. I spent the entire summer before leaving going through everyone’s travel blogs and trying to prepare. Even so, it’s hard to know what to bring until you’re there. For me, I brought one suitcase and a carry on and still had too much stuff.

So here’s what worked and what didn’t for me.

Firstly, I did not bring anything that I could get in Scotland. I knew my flat had a kitchen, so I would need to purchase dishes, mugs, utensils and food. But I was living with other people as well (11 other girls), so I waited to see if we could share some of these items, such as pots and pans. We were even able to share food when we bought it in bulk and we would cook together, which made everything a lot cheaper and easier.

We all planned to live on the bare minimum and it actually worked out really well. I only had one plate, one bowl, one mug and a set of utensils, which was really all I needed. We took a trip to Tesco together and just picked out the cheapest set of each and I did not regret it one bit.

I also purchased a set of towels, a duvet, a pillow and a blanket (which I purchased as a souvenir). I actually brought my own sheets from home because they were small enough to fit in my suitcase and I could leave them there after I left.

What I would have done differently, however, has to do with my clothes.

Heels. No. Not in Europe. Ever. I wore them once and regretted it the entire time. And I brought two pairs of heels that just took up space the entire semester. I ended up wearing rain boots, sneakers and ballet flats every day. Those were really the only shoes I needed in the end. And hiking boots, which I wished I brought from home, but didn’t, so I had to purchase a new pair there. So rain boots, sneakers, flats and hiking boots are really all you need.

And in terms of the actual clothing: I got tired of half the clothes that I brought and I never wore the other half. I know that we all do the same things at home too and it is probably impossible to resolve completely, but I would definitely try to pack smarter. I think that bringing one or two of everything would be perfect like a dress, Tshirt, tank top, sweater, a couple pairs of jeans, leggings, etc.

I would have brought some of my least favorite items that I could get rid of, as I replaced them with my new purchases, instead of my favorites that I ended up wearing out and having to get rid of as I went.

I knew there would be stores there for my dishes and everything, but I also forgot that I could get clothes too. And that I would want to get new clothes to go with my new sense of fashion in Scotland. And for me, this was a part of adapting to the culture, by changing my style.

And really the clothes ended up being the least important part. They did not matter as much since I was solely focused on the experience. I had to eat and sleep, but I did not have to be the most fashionable to have a great time.

Looking back at my pictures, I am remembering the places I went and the people I met over what I was wearing.


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