I’m a lucky duck. At the time I'm writing this, I am sitting in my bed in Verviers, Belgium, four days into the trip of a lifetime. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since the moment I discovered it existed, and I’ve been actively preparing for it since the moment I signed up about ten months ago. Over the course of that ten-month preparation, I spent a great deal of time figuring out when to pack, how to pack, and—most importantly—what to pack, and I must’ve repacked my bags half a dozen times. Of course, you can never really know exactly what you’ll need until you’re already there, right? Anyway, this is what I learned in just a day or two of being here about what you really need to pack for studying abroad.
Bring your Chacos.
Even if you happen to notice nobody in Europe wears Chacos (sad but true), bring them anyway. You will need them. If you don’t own Chacos, that’s okay—just be sure to bring a pair of durable, comfortable, non-blister-causing footwear because you will be doing ALL the walking while you’re here!
Bring a journal.
The days run together. I wouldn’t be able to keep the details straight if I didn’t write them down every night! You’re going to love it all and remember none of it… unless you find some way to document it forever. Even if you aren’t into journaling, a notebook could turn into a cute scrapbook for all the random lucky pennies you find and plane tickets you have by the end of the trip.
Bring short sleeves.
Seventy degrees (Fahrenheit) in Europe is somehow hotter than seventy degrees (Fahrenheit) in the USA. Maybe not, but it will be warmer than you will expect. Bring plenty of t-shirts; they will be well-worn.
Bring a small backpack.
You won’t want to lug your travel backpack on the thirty-minute train ride to Germany to do homework just because it’s the only bag that’ll fit your laptop. You’ll want something smaller than your carry-on to use as your day bag: it won’t be as heavy or bulky while walking around.
Don’t forget your extension cord!
This one I didn’t happen to pack. And that, let me tell you, was a huge mistake. There is always use for an extension cord—and generally, an immediate need for one. Yes, you can go buy one, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do forget and need to buy one, be careful to read the package and correctly convert meters to feet: don’t buy one that’s too short, like I did.
- Amelia Beames, Sophomore