19 Students Share How They Packed and Prepared for Studying Abroad

Preparing for studying abroad can be a bit daunting. Exactly how do you prepare for months or even years of life in a completely different country?

To find out just what we need to prepare and pack, we have talked with 19 students who are studying abroad and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all 19 have been abroad for a long time, so they really know what they are talking about!).

The 19 Students

Meg Jerrard
I’m Australian, currently in Australia, and during my time at University, enrolled in two separate short study programs. While I would have loved to have gone on a 6 – 12 month student exchange, the timing wasn’t a possibility for me during my degree, so I took the opportunity to instead enroll in intensive units each summer, which meant studying at an overseas university for 4 weeks and getting credit back for one unit each time towards my degree.

I studied International Human Rights Law in the Netherlands, International Politics in the Czech Republic, and Environmental Conservation in Costa Rica. Even though these courses were only short 4 week programs, we lived in at the university and roomed with local students, and really had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in local life, join university events, and incorporate travel into weekend field trips to places of interest like the Hague, where we had the unique opportunity to sit in on a War Crimes trial at the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).

My reason for studying abroad was to take advantage of the opportunity to travel, and experience life in another country / culture. I was also very keen to diversify my degree with courses and experience which were not available at my home university.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

International Student Identity Card – These cards are like gold and will save you hundreds of dollars all over the world! Card holders save money on sightseeing, restaurants, museum admission, movies, tours, clothing, transportation and so much more! Student IDs issued by your home university usually won’t be accepted overseas, however cards issued by ISIC are – and you can apply easily online!

Gifts from your home country – for me this meant tiny stuffed koala bears (Australian) – it’s nice to be able to have gifts on hand from your home country, whether you’re looking for something thoughtful to thank your host family, favorite professor, or lose in a drinking game!!

Flashlight: A very crucial item that many people take for granted is a flashlight, but it’s something that everyone studying abroad should have. The main purpose of a flashlight is to obviously offer a source of light when making your way through the dark. And this is especially important when you’re in a foreign environment – you may be taking late classes and have to walk home at night, but you’re unfamiliar with the area, or be out and forget what time the sunsets. If you’re sharing a room with a room mate and you have a habit of studying late or reading in bed, you could consider a reading flashlight that attaches to a wall or your books.

How do you bring things with you?

If you’re only studying abroad for a short period, and will be moving around a lot, for instance taking a number of weekend trips, etc., consider packing a backpack or duffle instead of a suitcase. This is the same advice if you plan to do any travel or backpacking at the end of your trip. But if you’re unpacking once, and the packing again when you leave at the end of your semester, a suitcase will do just fine. The most important thing to remember when choosing a bag for travel, is the purpose, and what / how you’ll be using it.

Packing cubes are a great way to stay organized when you’re packing; these are fabric cubes which come in different shapes and sizes usually secured and fastened with a zip. They are a great way to keep your clothes, accessories and toiletries separated and compact in your bags whilst travelling. They reduce your impact on the environment, and mean you don’t have to travel with plastic bags.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Create a list of emergency contacts (all the people you could contact if you need help), and keep this list handy at all times (keep a copy of this list with your important documents too). Make sure you’ve included the contact information for people like your mentors and teachers at your host university, the emergency services number in your host country (ie 911 in the US or 000 in Australia), and it probably wouldn’t hurt to keep the contact details of your classmates and friends abroad. Also include the number for your bank to report lost and stolen credit cards.

By this same token, remember to leave your family and friends with ways to contact you if an emergency does arise while you’re abroad. And pre-organize how you will stay in touch with home while abroad: ie will you use a local cellphone, Skype, email, a calling card?

Sign up for Class Trips: You shouldn’t be chained to a desk for the duration of your study – you’re in another country, and often the best learning experiences happen outside of the classroom! The highlights of my time studying abroad were the field trips. You’ll see a side of the country that you wouldn’t have been able to see on your own. Most of these field trips are organized well in advance, and spaces are limited and fill up fast. Be sure to keep an eye out for class field trips which take your fancy and sign up before you arrive. Bring a backpack for weekend trips.

Finances: The most important part of organizing your finances is to know what is being covered and what is not. Most international student exchange programs include accommodation, for instance, though some do not, so make sure you’re fully aware of all inclusions before you make a financial plan. Generally the fees for tuition and accommodation are required in advance, and in some instances you may be eligible for financial aid or government grants and loans. Check with the student exchange office on campus for information about any grants or financial aid which may be available.

Establish a daily budget for when you’re away and make sure you stick to it. Organize a few different forms of payment which are accessible to you overseas before you go (ie travelers checks, cash, credit cards etc). You will need to budget for food, stationary, school supplies and general living expenses while abroad. It’s generally a good idea to also travel with an emergency fund ($300) in local currency, and we advise to take this with you on the plane.

Visit Meg Jerrard’s website

Emily Kammerlohr
I’m from Houston, Texas and am currently living in Sydney, Australia. When I was in college, I studied abroad in Rome, Italy for the spring semester of my junior year. I chose to study abroad because I majored in ancient studies (a branch of classics) and wanted to see everything I studied in person.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

For women, I cannot recommend menstrual cups enough. Bringing feminine hygiene products with you can take up SO much room in your suitcase and it can often be difficult to find what you prefer in a foreign country, so having this handy, reusable cup is a lifesaver.

I would also recommend ear plugs, even if you don’t usually use them. While studying abroad, you’ll likely travel, and with the wild things that go on in hostels (up to and including people who snore like a plane taking off) ear plugs will literally save your life.

My third favorite thing is anti-itch cream. In the unfortunate (and likely) even that you encounter bedbugs during your semester abroad, it’ll save you from so much misery.

The most useless thing I’ve seen someone bring on study abroad is too many shoes. They’re heavy and you can always buy more there if you realllly need to.

How do you bring things with you?

I have a Rick Steves bag for my carry on, called the Rolling Carry-On. It’s great because it’s got lots of pockets and is expandable. It’s also small enough for even the strictest airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir, so I never have to worry about oversize bag fees.

For my larger, checked bag, I have a large LL Bean duffle bag. I organize each bag using packing cubes I got off Amazon. They are lifesavers which keep everything organized, so I don’t feel like I have too much stuff for the space.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

My number one tip for studying abroad is to not be intimidated by the cost. There are more scholarships out there than you think! My semester in Rome was completely paid for by a combo of grants from my school and private institutions.

Visit Emily Kammerlohr ‘s website

Dave Anderson
Hey everyone, I’m Dave, and I was born and raised in Orange County, California. I’ve been living and working abroad since 2011, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

I’m currently writing this from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and having an amazing time relaxing in the Red Sea.

I studied abroad several different times in my studies. My first study abroad was a 7-week summer Europe trip with my business program during my undergrad. It completely blew my mind, and it actually inspired me to spend an entire semester abroad.

I spent the spring semester of my Junior year in Rome, Italy – and I look at that experience as one of the most defining points of my life. I loved learning Italian, meeting people from around the world, and traveling Europe as often as possible. I also interned for a travel company out there, and they offered me a full-time position after graduating!

I also completed a Masters Degree online while I traveled the world, but that’s a story for another time. 😉

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

If I had to pick 3 things that were vital to my study abroad, I would say a quality backpack for weekend trips, a portable music player, and an unlocked iPhone. I think these are all essential items, and will make your trip a heck of a lot easier and better.

I never checked a bag while studying abroad. A) It’s more expensive on budget airlines, and B ) it just makes packing so much easier. If you have a decent backpack for your weekend adventures, it’ll be amazing!

I love my portable music player, because I think music can elevate any situation and make it more memorable. Songs can bring you back to a special moment in time, and I love having that connection.

The phone is just crucial to travel these days. Whether that’s searching for travel recommendations, booking last minute hostels, restaurant and nightlife tips, social media, etc.!

How do you bring things with you?

When I studied abroad I had one massive suitcase (I think Samsonite), and one backpack that I love which was a Targus 17in laptop backpack.

I always keep things in the same pockets, so I know where to look when I need them.

I typically felt like I always have just the right amount of space. My most recent travels have changed though, as I carry quite a lot of camera equipment with me, and things can get cramped.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Definitely just live it up, travel as much as possible, and try to make friends with some of the locals. I see too many study abroad students only hang out with other Americans, and it’s a shame. You’re living in a different country – make some international friends!!

I’d also recommend stop being afraid! It’ll be such an amazing experience, and can definitely be filled with life-changing moments.

Oh, and don’t bring your entire warddrobe. Pack light, you can always buy stuff on the road.

Visit Dave Anderson’s website

Samantha Elisabeth
I was born in China but raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA! Because no one outside of said suburbs knows of Pottstown, I usually just say I’m from Philly.

Currently, I’m finishing up a year-long contract teaching ESL in South Korea. This is my third and final year teaching in Korea for the foreseeable future.

I also blog about travel and Korea on my site, There She Goes Again.

I studied abroad twice: for a summer semester in Seoul at Yonsei University and for a fall semester at Nebrija University in Madrid. I actually worked with an advisor to create a relationship with Yonsei’s summer program because I was eager to visit. I was interested in Korean culture and history, and since my university was small, there were no Korean-specific classes.

I studied in Madrid because I was a Spanish major, and I had to spend a semester abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. I wanted to be able to travel around Europe, so I chose the Nebrija program.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?


  • A cute crossbody bag with a zipper – I know some people are terrified about pickpocketing in Europe. I can tell you this: I traveled to multiple cities and never had a single thing stolen. When I went to Italy and Greece in high school, I carried one of those money necklaces, and it was the most useless thing ever. Because of my clothes and how the pocket sat, I looked pregnant in almost every single one of my photos.

    A crossbody with a zipper and some awareness and minor vigilance of your surroundings works perfectly well. When you’re traveling, just make sure the zip is to the front and you keep your hand over it.

  • Antihistamine pills – You never know when you could discover a new allergy! My skin has broken into hives too many times to count in my travels abroad, and it would have been a lot smoother (and cheaper) if I had just had some antihistamine pills on hand. When I moved to Korea after college, I made sure I always had some on hand.
  • A small, but sturdy weekender bag – Those extra fees for budget airlines are no joke, especially if you’re a college student. I’d bring something small enough to carry on and be under the weight limits but still hold enough for a weekend in a new city. I had this zip-top bag from Michael Kors that also doubled as my school bag during the week, and it was perfect.

How do you bring things with you?

When I packed for Spain, I had my MK Hamilton Weekender, a crossbody bag, a regular-sized suitcase.

I had enough room, but things were definitely tight! I didn’t use anything special like space savers or packing cubes because at the time I didn’t know either of those things existed. I was just smart about what I packed and what I left at home (think neutrals and things that mix and match).

It also helped coming back that most of the shoes I brought with me broke by the end of the semester…

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

  • Pack light and pack smartly.

    I worked at a nice store before I studied abroad, so I actually had a small stockpile of really nice clothing that traveled well. At some point in November of my fall semester, one of my friends looked at me and said, “You must have packed 3 suitcases because I don’t think I’ve seen you repeat an outfit once while we’ve been here.”

    She was totally wrong. I packed one regular suitcase, and I just managed to mix and match different things all semester. Plus I did, obviously, repeat looks. I only purchased maybe 4 clothing items I was in Spain too, so it wasn’t like I was going shopping for new things all the time.

    Wear things that are comfortable but look nice when you’re traveling around! There are so many blog posts about it, just read up while you’re packing or buying new items of clothing.

  • Be open and say yes.

    I’m an introvert, so my natural instinct is to turn down invitations and stay home on the weekend. Don’t do this. Even if you’re tired, say yes to going clubbing on a Tuesday night when you have class the next day at 9! Go to Portugal on a whim. Eat pasta every night to afford a trip to Milan. Have fun, and be open to new experiences. You only get a chance to study abroad once, so why not dance the night away or visit somewhere new when you only have 100 euros in your bank account? Everything works out, so just GO.


    I’ll spare you the lecture about protecting yourself from potential creeps, pickpockets, and how quickly things can get dangerous for you as a young foreigner in a new country. You’re going to get that lecture from your parents, your teachers, and a bunch of other people.

    I’m telling you to be safe and smart out of respect for the new friends you’re going to make. Don’t be the whiny drunk girl at 3 a.m. It’s a buzzkill for everyone around you, and you’ll quickly be uninvited from future outings.

  • Keep some sort of journal or blog to remember your trip.

    I still go back and reread my study abroad tumblr! You’re going to experience so much in such a short time, it’d be a shame to forget it all in a few years. I’ve never been good at keeping a pen and paper journal, but I filled my tumblr with funny anecdotes, listicles, and badly edited Iphone3 photos. From learning how to use a bidet on my first day to taping my shoes together in Inishmore with ducktape, these are funny memories I’d probably forget if I didn’t write them down.

Visit Samantha Elisabeth’s website

Isabel Leong
Isabel draws energy from being outdoors. 24 and from Singapore, she believes there is nothing more fulfilling than being unplugged. An explorer at heart, the world is her playground. She chronicles her travel adventures and budget tips on www.belaroundtheworld.com.

I’m currently based in Japan as a digital nomad, working from anywhere with WiFi.

I spent six months in 16 countries and 55 cities around Europe and spoke in 11 different languages for my study abroad program. My school was in Rouen, France. More here.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

Student card – grants me a lot of student concession prices everywhere, from museums to transport tickets.

Camera – there’s no way I go without them since I love to document things. Some experiences cannot be relived so I like to immortalize them in pictures.

Travel pillow – travelling on a budget sometimes mean you don’t always have the luxury of a comfy bed and pillow. This was a consolation when I had to endure rough nights at the airport.

How do you bring things with you?

Depending on the occasion:

  • Matador – I like how lightweight and waterproof it is. I use it to keep my camera and when I go for day hikes because of how outdoor-friendly it is.
  • Cabeau – their travel pillows are really innovative and serves its function really well.
  • CabinZero – like it for how much you can put in the bag, yet still be a airplane-friendly cabin baggage.
  • Vaude – very hardy and heavy-duty backpack
  • The North Face – the brand speaks for itself. A veteran in making outdoor accessories, I also like it for its sleek and chic design.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?


Go with an open mind. Learn a new language. Get out of your comfort zone. Be around people of the wrong crowd. Don’t stick to the same people. Take pictures. Wander aimlessly. GO WITHOUT INTERNET. Sit at park benches. Do nothing. Enjoy your surroundings. Witness the different phases of the moon. Commit precious moments to memory. Smell the flowers of spring. Do something you never would have done back in your home country. Say hello to a stranger, hold the hand of someone you don’t know and dance like no one’s watching.

Visit Isabel Leong’s website

Anna McCafferty
I am from right outside of Philadelphia and attend Penn State. Right now I am studying abroad in Rome for the summer. I decided to study abroad so that I could see what it was like to live in a culture other than my own.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

My top 3 things to bring abroad are:

  • Travel size toiletries (conditioner, shampoo, contact solution, toothpaste). I have found it hard to find smaller bottles of these items in Italy, and they are extremely useful to have while traveling abroad, especially if you are flying and not checking a bag.
  • A portable charger. Having a portable charger has saved me a lot. I am not on my phone as often here, but taking pictures drains the battery, and you want to make sure you don’t miss the perfect picture opportunity!
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Make sure to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes because you will walk a lot. Since it is summer and very warm in Italy a lot of my friends only brought sandals, but they are incredibly hard to walk in all day. Bring a pair of casual sneakers (Stan Smiths, Vans, Converse) and your feet will thank you.

Don’t bring full size shampoo and conditioner from home. They will take up valuable space in your suitcase and they have some of the same brands here (such as Pantene) as they do in the U.S..

How do you bring things with you?

I brought a standard sized checked suitcase, a backpack, and a small duffel bag with me. I checked the large suitcase and used the backpack and small duffel as my carry on items; one as a personnel item and one as the other allowed carry on. I made sure to pack an extra outfit in my carry on just in case my luggage was lost. I also made sure that the duffel I used as a carry on was not packed the whole way so I had room for anything I would buy over here.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Pack light! You will definitely buy clothes wherever you are going, and you want to make sure you have room to bring them back with you! Also, this video has a lot of tips on packing and double checking that you are bringing the right items!

Sameer Kamat

I’ve been in multiple industries and roles – from technology to management consulting to finance.

Currently, I am an entrepreneur. I manage sites related to admissions consulting and career counselling.

My work gets me in touch with many students and professionals who are trying to build an international career.

I’ve also published two books. I share my publishing experience and tips for writers on my personal site – Sameer Kamat.

I am from India. When I was working in the corporate world as a technology consultant, I travelled across countries. Now, as I manage a online business, I’m back in India.

I studied at the University of Cambridge. I was in the 1-year MBA program.

I chose to study abroad because I already had an international career. I felt, being in a classroom with students from across the globe, would be a great way to learn.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

Apart from the regular things that students get with them, I got along an Indian cooker. It’s used for a wide range of Indian food items. It can be quite bulky, so I carried the smallest capacity cooker (2 litres) I could get.

From my earlier trips (as a professional, before I went back to business school) I knew that it was difficult to get it in many countries. So, I sacrificed a fair bit of suitcase space to ensure I carry something that’ll ensure I get to eat healthy food while I’m away from home.

I’ve seen other students carry large quantities of food items. Most do so out of ignorance rather than foresight. While I don’t think it is completely useless (a small amount would be good to stay afloat for the first few days of arriving in a new country), I think many of these are available at highly affordable prices in other countries as well, if you find the right place to shop.

How do you bring things with you?

For the check-in baggage, Samsonite and VIP suitcases are quite good. They’re affordable, spacious, and last long. The ones I’ve used have gone through the rough and tumble at airports over the years. There’s always the challenge of having too much to pack and too little room. The top thing that helps in maintaining discipline is the weight limits for international travellers. The thought of having having to pay penalty for extra baggage is a good incentive to keep it light.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

My tips to students studying abroad:

  • Pack like a student, not like a tourist.
  • Carry extra cash, instead of extra luggage.
  • Explore online student forums (most universities have private intranets) where you can find excellent bargains from former students who are moving on.

I’ve shared some more tips in this article.

Visit MBA Crystal Ball, Careerizma, Sameer Kamat

I am from Ireland and studied abroad both in Australia and recently Canada over a four year period. I wanted to not only learn from another country but also travel so it made sense to have a base in each country. We picked Melbourne, Australia and later Vancouver in Canada.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

A nice set of Bose Bluetooth headphones, these were a lifesaver when I wanted to block out some external noise and focus. A new surface pro laptop, this is by far the best thing I could have brought with me! It was probably the most expensive purchase I made but it has made taking notes and everything else much much easier!

I think people shouldn’t worry too much about getting everything before they leave as it is so easy to pick up anything you need when you get to your destination. But a good laptop and Bluetooth headphones would be my recommendation.

How do you bring things with you?

I stuffed as much as I could into a big suitcase as I had a 30kg allowance. To be honest it was probably the least organised bag ever haha. But again one thing is for sure that I brought way too much!

Again pack light just the essentials as you can get everything over here, of course if you are on a budget maybe bring a bit extra but I did find that I had far too much on each occasion.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

There is a good Youtube video about packing which I wish I had discovered well before I left

I think you shouldn’t worry too much about making it as perfect as possible. You are going to pack things you didn’t need and things you did need. So my advice is just to do a bit of research make a list and go for it! 🙂

Visit Steve ‘s website

I am from Germany and am on vacation in Austria at the moment. I had a really good year abroad in Kenai, Alaska in the USA . It was one of the best years in my life. I experienced a whole lot of wonderful things and had the best host family I could wish for. I have a seconded life now one in Frankfurt one in Kenai. I choosed to do a study abroad because I thought it was really interesting to live in a different country with a different culture.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

My Top three things I brought for my study abroad were: gum, Notebook, different sizes of cosmetic bags

Why does things?

The Gum because I always have really strong pressure on my ears and that helps it to go away.

The Notebook because you can write down important things you can’t forget or things you experienced.

The cosmetic bags because I´m putting all my chargers in one bag, all my cosmetic in a other one and my pass and imported travel paper in a last one and like that your backpack is way more organized and you will find things faster.

How do you bring things with you?

I always have one backpack with me mostly the fijal raven backpack, then I carry a small carry on suitcase with me, and a big luggage. I have all my electronics and important things in my backpack where I have quick excess, in my carry on I always have my guest presents and unimportant heavy stuff, and all my clothes are in my luggage. I feel like I have all the room I need in my bags.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

I can recommend that you only pack the most necessary stuff you need. So save room for the way back because you will always buy way too much stuff in your year abroad and you will have struggle packing it all at the end. Maybe not 5 jeans just 3 or something like that. And I can just say that the exchange year helped in everyday possible. So just do it.

Visit Annika ‘s website

Veronica Mobley
I am a Chicago native who moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, after studying abroad in Canterbury, England, in 2005. I decided to study abroad because I wanted to be more than a tourist; I yearned to be part of a community other than my own and experience history beyond what was available to me in the U.S. The semester I spent at Canterbury Christ Church University fused my passions for travel and higher education, and inspired me to pursue a career in international education. I now work as Assistant Director of Study Abroad at the University of Arkansas. Last year, I was proud to work with a dedicated team that sent over 1,100 students to over 48 countries.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

  • Portable charger: many study abroad programs have packed itineraries and plenty of opportunities to take pictures. A fully charged phone that would typically get you through the day, will likely not make it through a day a day of street tours, museums, boat rides, and site visits.
  • A hoodie and a scarf: alone these items seem ordinary, together, they serve as a hybrid blanket, pillow, and eye mask, that provide comfort during long flights, bus rides, and unexpected nights in the airport. Layering options are a good idea for all travelers, but they are essential for study abroad participants, who rarely have control over their environments or itinerary, and are usually on a budget. A hoodie and scarf can prove invaluable during unexpected visits to a locations with different temperatures or standards of dress. One of my student told me that she would have missed a guided tour of 12th century mosque in Morocco, if not for the scarf she had in her backpack that doubled as a knee length skirt in a pinch.
  • Gifts for hosts: small items or novelty foods that represent your college, region, or the U.S. Students often tell me they wish they would have brought more items from home to thank their hosts and provide gifts to new friends. Pointer: don’t give everything away the first week. Save a few items in case you make a good friend later in the semester.

By far, the most useless item students have reported bringing is high heels.

How do you bring things with you?

My preferred carry-on is a TIMBUK 2 Commuter Backpack. It holds my Hydro Flask insulated water bottle, a change of clothes, hoodie, scarf, toiletry bag, travel pillow, and book. The design is great! Sleek with lots of padding and support that distribute weight evenly.

I am picky about quality of my suitcase, but flexible on the brand. I don’t want to spend a ton of money on something that is going to get thrown under a plane. I usually buy my suitcases at TJ Maxx to reduce sticker shock, which allows me to inspect the features, compartments, and rollability in person. My preferred style is a scratch resistant, hard shell suitcase, with smooth spinner wheels. I use Shacke Pak travel cubes and compression travel storage bags to organize the contents and maximize space.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Students often share that they couldn’t see past the length of a study abroad program and simply packed too much. General advice: capsule wardrobes help lighten the load while maximizing outfit options. Unfortunately, no packing list is perfectly suited for every traveler or every location. My advice, analyze the location in relation to your preferences. Are you going to a developing region that has access to your preferred hygiene products? How many climates will you experience (check average temps for the appropriate time of year before shopping or packing)? Can you purchase your preferred items once abroad? If so, how will the exchange rate influence your budget for these items?

Reach out to your Study Abroad Office early! Study Abroad Advisors help you sort through options, discuss location preferences, academics, and share information about application deadlines for programs and scholarships. The sooner you get started, the more likely you are to find a study abroad program that meets your personal and academic goals.

Visit Veronica Mobley’s website

Chloe Riggs
My name is Chloe Riggs. I’m a rising senior at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I’m originally from Bentonville, Arkansas, I am double majoring in political science and Spanish. For me, studying abroad in Madrid, Spain made perfect sense. I wanted to both get credit for toward my Spanish major as well as improve my Spanish speaking skills. I chose to go spring semester of my junior year, and it was perfect timing. I wanted to do a semester because I wanted to be able to fully immerse in the culture and learn as much as I possibly could. I actually thought about going spring semester of my sophomore year, but when it came time to apply I was a bit hesitant. Being so nervous, I decided to go the following year, and it worked out better than I could’ve ever imagined.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

My top 3 suggestions for things to bring abroad with you would be: a neck pillow, a good purse and/or wallet, and a protective case for your passport. It is so important not to overpack, and I think (know) this is so common. My friends and I were going to Spain, and we were told by late February it would be warm enough for sundresses and shorts. Everyone was so wrong. It didn’t get up to 65 degrees until late May when I left. I had tons of beautiful summer clothes that I did not wear and that was such a waste. Pack only for the season you’re going in, and then you can pick up small other things along the way. A nice neck pillow is important because you will literally learn you can sleep anywhere, and it is nice to get a little comfy. A good purse and/or wallet is so necessary for protection of all your money and other items. Pickpockets are a lot bigger issue than they are in the U.S. (my home country). Last but not least, your passport is going to get torn up when your traveling the world. A protective case will keep it in one piece and easier to grab quickly. I also recommend a really nice camera, if you can afford it! My parents surprised me with an incredible camera right before. I found my passion for photography and got amazing snaps!

How do you bring things with you?

I used one large suitcase from Perry Ellis (I found it at Tj Maxx), a small size older suitcase my parents had, a Vera Bradley duffle, a NorthFace backpack, and my trusted Louis Vuitton crossbody. It is quite the eclectic mix. The large suitcase was for clothes and shoes, and the small suitcase was filled with toiletries. The duffle was for all extras (a book to read on flights, a framed picture of my boyfriend and I, etc), and my backpack had my laptop and other valuables I wanted to be careful with. I definitely overpacked, and if I had to do it again I would highly recommend buying a european standard size rolling carry-on bag. EVERYONE uses them and it will make flying so much easier (because budget flights will allow these for free).

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

First off, you should 100% without a doubt study abroad. It is the most incredible life-changing experience that you will definitely not ever regret. You will get so much out of the experience and realize things about yourself and the world that you might not ever have the chance to otherwise. Try your best not to overpack, and remember you can buy things in your host country as well. Live it up and have the time of your life! Don’t waste a second because it will be over before you know it!

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Kassandra Salazar
I’m originally from Rogers, AR. I recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in International Business. It is my dream to travel for work. After graduating, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan for 5 weeks. I’ve always had the desire to visit Asia but I was nervous to take on the adventure on my own, so the chance to go with a group from school was the perfect opportunity for me.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

A small backpack or even a large one- I take one whenever I travel and its handy to carry a change of clothes/ extra shoes/ whatever else you may need on an extended day. When you travel you don’t spend much time at your home base so I like to have everything I might need with me and a back pack always works great for that.

A luggage scale! I like to shop and someone always has issues with an overweight suitcase.

Portable charger!

Something I always take for granted too, but with long days this is definitely something you need.

How do you bring things with you?

A back pack! I use my north face for getting from place to place and a smaller one for daily use.

I don’t know the brands of my suitcases, I think they were samsonite, american traveler and one other one. Hardshell are the best and you want four wheels on anything that rolls! I don’t recommend spending a lot of money on them because international travel really wears them down. I like to use packing cubes and they are so helpful! I got a $20 set on amazon. I never have enough room cause I am a huge over packer but always leave room for souvenirs.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

For the most part, if you forget anything you can buy it abroad. Make sure you have weather essentials like a rain jacket, umbrella, light jacket for cool nights/planes. If it’s a long trip, I recommend bringing small toiletries and big ones that you can use to refill and throw away at the end. ONLY COMFORTABLE SHOES!! I cannot stress this enough. Most places you go you will walk miles per day so there’s no use in taking up valuable suitcase real estate for a pair of heels that give you blisters after a few steps. Get comfortable sandals or flats if you want to go out. Bring versatile clothing and make sure you know what your laundry situation will be beforehand. I always try and have a travelers mindset and focus on what will make my life convenient. If you plan on visiting more places while you’re abroad, pack light!! Heavy suitcases are SUCH a burden if you have to drag them through cobblestone streets, trust me on this one!!

Visit Kassandra Salazar’s website

Emily Gentles
I am an undergraduate math major who lives and studies in Arkansas although I am currently conducting math research through a summer program in Connecticut. In high school I went on two short-term study abroad trips to Japan and in college I participated in a short-term study abroad program in Italy and a semester-long program in Moscow, Russia. I will also be embarking on a short-term program to Australia in the coming months.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

I always bring a ‘pharmacy bag’ with common cold medications, pain relievers (think ibuprofen), allergy medication, and other useful tidbits like a thermometer and cough drops. Chances are you won’t get sick but if you, or your program mates, do come down with something it’s such a relief to have access to medication you recognize, with known side-affects, right in your home. Searching for medication in another language while you’re ill is not something you want to do! During my time in Russia almost every person in my program used something from my pharmacy bag and I was so happy I had it!

I also always bring plastic containers for food storage and pepper spray. Buying in bulk and making your own food is always cheaper than eating out so having storage containers is a great way to save money! They’re also good for bringing along snacks or food for a day-trip. Pepper spray is a common-sense security precaution. I’ve never had to use mine but knowing you have it can help you stay calm and confident in sticky situations.

The most useless item that people is textbooks and/or excessive school supplies. Most textbooks and relevant material can be found online so there’s no need to take up valuable space with heavy books. Additionally, whatever country you go to will have notebooks and folders! Plus, if you buy your supplies in-country you can make sure to have the correct paper sizes, etc.

How do you bring things with you?

I usually bring a backpack and one large suitcase as I like to have one hand free while traveling. This allows me to use my phone for navigation if needed and keeps me from having to ask for help when carrying my bags (up stairs, onto storage racks, etc). This also allows you the freedom to bring an extra carry-on bag back home, usually at no extra charge; I find this very helpful as you’ll probably want to bring back souvenirs. I am also very fond of vacuum bags which help conserve space.

My backpack is High Sierra and, while it holds a lot, it tends to tear up relatively easily. My luggage has a very light frame to reduce weight.

I also highly recommend bringing a luggage scale with you as it takes out a lot of the guess work and stress when re-packing.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

If you want to study abroad, you can. There is a program out there that fits your schedule and there are scholarships available to pay for it. Yes, it takes a lot of work to look for and apply to these opportunities but the resulting experience is truly priceless. During no other time in your life will you have the same resources available to you as you do right now as a student, so take advantage of them!

Visit Emily Gentles’ website

Christina Neofytou

I am a 25-year-old Biomedical Scientist from Greece. Studies and a career in science usually mean studying abroad or relocating for a new position. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Greece and performed an Erasmus internship in England, United Kingdom as part of it. After that, I was accepted in the Master’s in Biomedicine at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and moved again! I changed 3 countries in the same year and obtained an amazing amount of knowledge and skills from studying abroad! Making such a big change in your life might be a bit scary at first, but I promise it is worth the trouble of moving, because you get to meet many different people of diverse backgrounds and gain amazing new experiences! In my case, I chose to study abroad because the funding for research projects tends to be higher in a few countries than others, for example Greece right now. For that reason, I can gain a lot more valuable skills and perform research in an easier manner abroad and hopefully bring back all this knowledge back to my country someday.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

When moving, it is easy to forget where you packed everything and some things might be hard to find amongst all your belongings when you are unpacking. Especially if you travel far and arrive at the place of your accommodation very tired, sometimes you might not be able to fully unpack as soon as you arrive to your new place of residence.

Also, it is not that uncommon for the airline to lose your checked-in bags and bring them to you a few days later. That is why it is important to pack your carry-on bag as you would pack for a weekend, with all the necessary things for two or 3 days, at least. That includes your medicine if you need them, underwear, toothbrush, everything! I cannot even begin to tell you how important this trick is, so that you do not have to spend multiple days in the same clothes because you have no idea where your stuff is!

Another important item to pack would be your chargers, a power bank and a universal adaptor. It is also a good idea to bring a powerbar (a bar with multiple plugs suitable for your chargers), so that you only need one adapter and can charge multiple devices at once! Finally, it is always a good idea to have a multiple tool swiss-army knife, with pocket sized tools for any purpose (remember to not pack this in your carry-on bag, as it will be confiscated) and some needle and thread. Living alone means you might need to fix things sometimes and a few tools and youtube tutorials can really save you sometimes!

How do you bring things with you?

For a big move, I usually would pack a large suitcase with adjustable zippers that increase the space, a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. That way, these 3 items are possible to carry on my own without the need for assistance, especially if the large suitcase can be rolled in an upright position. The brand of the bags is not important for me, as long as the frame is lightweight and the wheels feel sturdy. There is always enough room in the bags for everything, if the way they are packaged is optimised.

Also, it is a good idea to pack an extra bag or cardboard box with things you will need later for your stay, but not necessarily directly after you move. This box can be shipped to you by friends or family sometime after you have settled in your new place or can be brought when your relatives visit.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

How to pack:

I always roll my clothes because this increases the space available (it does work!) and use plastic bags that can be compressed by suctioning the air for coats and wooly jumpers. Since I moved to Sweden, I packed very warm clothes so the air-bags were a life saver. I usually place one air-bag at the bottom of the suitcase, then a layer or two of rolled clothes. I usually roll in my socks or towels breakable items and place them in the middle of the roll piles, not close to the edges of the suitcase. If I pack anything that can spill, like shampoo bottles or makeup, I make sure to unscrew the cap and place a small piece of plastic bag I cut up and then put the cap on. This creates a DIY seal for the cap and then I roll the liquid bottles in socks again, so that even if they spill, they will only stain the socks, which can easily be cleaned. Lastly, I top everything up with another bag of compressed clothes, which is usually heavy and compresses the layer of the rolled clothes. In that way, everything is “sandwiched” and there is no way for things to move around in the suitcase and break/spill. The smoothed-out surface of the compressed air bag helps close the zippers easier, too.

Mistakes to avoid:

There is no need to bring items that you think you might need “just in case”. The general rule-of-thumb is that if you do not use it in your own home, you probably will not need to use it abroad. This includes items that don’t fit you well or are uncomfortable to wear and they just take up space (in your suitcase and in your student dorm room, which tend to be small). I also see a lot of students bring spices and food items from home, which might not be necessary, especially for the beginning of their stay. I suggest opening up to new tastes from the new place where you will be moving and waiting to see what you will actually miss from home, once you have stayed there for a while. Then, chances are you can find it in your new place of residence. In Sweden, there are actually many specialty stores selling food items and ingredients from abroad, you just have to find them! The same was true for England, too!

Just open up to the new experiences and do not let the fear of the unknown beat you down! The unknown can be a great adventure. There is no chance of failing because studying abroad can always teach you valuable lessons.

Visit Christina Neofytou’s website

Johan Asplund
I am from Sweden where I live and work. I have worked with study abroad since 2002, and now I help students from all over the world with free study abroad advice through my company DreamStudiesAbroad.com When I was younger I did a high school year in the US, a university semester in England and short language courses in Germany, Spain, and Japan. Studying abroad has made me the person that I am today, and I am eager to help others realize their dreams of studying abroad.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

Nowadays I would primarily advise students to pack digitally. Save electronic copies of all important documents (insurance, visa, passport, admission letters, tickets, etc) in one place such as Google Drive where you can easily access them even if you lose your phone. But also make sure to bring the originals of required documents such as your passport.

Save offline maps and locations (such as your accommodation and your school) so you can find your way around using GPS even if you don’t have wifi access. Download dictionary apps and e-books. The most useless thing to bring nowadays is heavy books when they weigh nothing on your phone.

However, if you are interested in photography, I would recommend bringing a real camera with interchangeable lenses. This way you will have more creative freedom and your photos will have better image quality.

How do you bring things with you?

The most important thing is that your bags are light, have good wheels and don’t break easily. You don’t want to waste your precious weight allowance on a heavy bag. Get colorful bags or mark them with a sticker or something similar so you can spot them easily and avoid someone else taking them by mistake.

Bring your valuables onboard with you. Usually, you can take both a small suitcase and a personal item (a smaller bag) into the cabin. Put the things that you will need during the flight in your personal item, for example, food and drinks, headphones, medicine, your iPad, laptop or phone and maybe a shirt to put on if it gets cold.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Take the chance to study abroad! You will return with a suitcase full of memories and new experiences. Many students worry that it is costly and complicated to study abroad. However, it does not have to be. At DreamStudiesAbroad.com you will find a lot of resources to help you plan your studies abroad free of charge. Search among thousands of schools, ask a question in our faq or fill out an information request so we can help you get started.

Visit Johan Asplund’s website

Jordan Gershon
I am from Fayetteville, Arkansas. I am going to be a senior at the University of Arkansas in the fall where I am studying communications and marketing in hopes to obtain a job in the nonprofit sector. I am working in the Northwest Arkansas area this summer for a nonprofit that helps provide employment opportunities to adults with disabilities. I had an incredible opportunity this past spring semester, to study in Rome, Italy for 4 months! The U of A has a satellite campus in the heart of Rome and was offering a brand new program for communication and journalism students. It was an amazing experience where I was able to truly embrace the Italian culture and become more worldly as I was able to travel almost every weekend!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

Some essential things that I recommend bringing when studying abroad include a portable charger, rain jacket, a water bottle and a reusable grocery bag. You will use your phone a lot! Which is understandable whether you are taking pictures, or looking up directions, using the Moovit app to look up which metro to take or texting your friend to meet up for dinner-your phone battery will drastically decrease with all your activity. A portable charger will come in so handy-while you’re walking around just plug your phone into it and put it in your purse or pocket. A rain jacket will come in handy for those rainy days that are bound to happen. An umbrella will be hard to pack and if you buy one abroad, chances are, they won’t be the best quality, so a rain jacket is the way to go! Water in Europe is not free. Bringing a water bottle and filling it up before you leave your place or at water spickets or fountains around the city, will save you money in the long run and also keeps you hydrated while you explore. Europe is all about recycling. They will actually charge you for grocery bags you get at the store or supermarket, so just bring a reusable bag and not only will you be environmentally friendly you will be saving money too! Another thing I am going to recommend investing in is a handheld digital luggage scale. If your checked bag is over 50lbs you get hit with a fine but not if you know how much your suitcase weighs-buy a portable scale! Bringing empty travel sized bottles for shampoo and conditioner was helpful especially when getting on a plane so as to meet the liquid requirements. Just buy a big shampoo and conditioner bottle and pour them in the smaller bottles for when you travel. You don’t need to bring a straightener or curling iron. Either buy one over there or go all natural with your hair. Their electrical sockets can’t handle as much as the states can and so you can easily fry your straightener or curling iron. Also be sure to have several converters for where you’re going to go-southern Europe and UK have different sockets as do many other places around the world. Buy a large pack at best buy or online at Amazon! I would also recommend getting medicines like Tylenol, Day-Quil, Mucinex and feminine hygiene products in the states because they are manufactured differently in Europe. Buying a lock and key to keep your luggage secure in your hostel while you’re out, would be a smart thing to look into. I had a friend who didn’t lock her stuff up and had her laptop stolen out of the hostel room.

How do you bring things with you?

I bought 2 London Fog carry-on suitcases and a larger London Fog suitcase for my checked bag. I also packed a tote bag for overnight or weekend trips. I made sure to get suitcases that had a hard, plastic outside so as to not get squished and therefore keeping my belongings safe and whole on the inside. I made sure my carry-ons met the dimension requirements for flights and they also fit on trains in the above designated bag section. They also had a zipper to expand the suitcase if I needed more room which came in handy when trying to squeeze as much as I could in them. I made sure to have a toiletries bag and just organized it like a puzzle, trying to get things to fit in a way where I could still zip my bags closed.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

In order to pack light you need to be realistic with the clothes you’re going to wear. You can re-wear jeans, and pajamas especially if you’re only going on a trip for a few days. How many shoes do you actually need? You can wear booties with a little heal and that also be the shoes you go out in. Wear pieces that can go together easily-shirts that match pants, skirts and shorts. I also recommend bringing some lounge clothes for when you want to just hang around your place for the day or if you want to work out. Layering your clothes, especially when it is cold, can come in handy too. When packing, roll your clothes together to create more room. Consider stuffing your shoes with your socks. Pack your shoes and heavier stuff in your carry on so your checked bag won’t weigh as much. Also, always pack your essentials in your carry-on so you have it with you at all times. I have a friend you put her camera in her checked bag and after she retrieved it from security, it was gone.

Instead of making excuses for why you can’t go study abroad, make a list of why you should go. Studying abroad was one of the best things I have ever done. It gave me more confidence and I learned so much about myself and also the history of the world. I was able to see things I had only ever seen in textbooks and it has made me now want to work abroad after I graduate college in a year. Life is short. Take out a loan, recognize you will need to save money, but realize it will be so worth it in the end. I met lifelong friends and had the time of my life. Look into programs outside of your school as well as scholarships. There are so many opportunities to study abroad and travel, so don’t wait until it’s too late!

Visit Jordan Gershon’s website

Christopher Mitchell

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and, after spending years abroad, I’ve actually found myself back in the Great White North. Funny enough, the travel bug never left me after my initial stint abroad and now I’m a full-time travel writer and blogger(www.travelingmitch.com – www.instagram.com/travelingmitch -www.twitter.com/travelingmitch – www.facebook.com/travelingmitch)

I actually studied abroad in Oslo, Norway for a year a couple of years back. I spent my third year of university there because, simply put, I felt like the opportunity was too good to pass up. Education, I came to realize, wasn’t some narrow phenomena or something that was forever banished to the interior of a book. No, rather education and learning often happens when you look past the book. I’m an English major, so there’s no question that I love a good book, but what I’m saying is that often learning happens when you’re not even away you are learning. It’s when you try new foods, internalize something about another culture, or even try a national drink you didn’t know existed just minutes before.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

There are a number of things that I brought with me that I found useful, but let’s stick to three in particular.

  • A notebook. I know that with technology these days the prevalence of the notebook has become less and less, as you can make notes on your phone. However, there’s something beautiful and deliberate about taking out a notebook and writing something down. There’s a learning process that ensues when you take a break from everything to take note of something. Carry a notebook with you everywhere, it’s something you can use throughout your travels, then it becomes a relic and record of your travels when you’re back home.
  • A few good books from where you’re from. You can find good books wherever you’re going, of course, but I personally loved bringing a few good books from my homeland, Canada. Whenever you’re feeling homesick, all of a sudden you have a few books that bring you back there, if only for a moment. It was as if I could take a portal back to Canada whenever I really needed it.
  • A positive attitude. I know this isn’t necessarily a “thing” you pack, but it is something that you need to deliberately bring with you. I met people living abroad where all they did was complain about the things that were different. If that’s your attitude, then why bother ever leaving in the first place? You need to understand that things are going to be different, but different isn’t synonymous with “bad.” Give yourself time to adjust and you might just find that you like this “different” way much better.

How do you bring things with you?

I keep things simple. I bring a small, carry-on backpack for my laptop, mouse, notebooks, books, pens, passport and toiletries. The one I’m using now is actually from Nepal, so not to sure where you might be able to nab one unless you’re in Kathmandu.

I also bring a 60L travel backpack with me, which tends to fit everything I need. I personally use Gregory, but I know that there are several brands that do a good job.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

My number one tip would really be just to forget about the person you were on the other side of the world and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Often, at home, we can get trapped in the identity that we’ve always had because it might seem strange to our friends if we all of sudden become a “different person.” I’m not saying you need to change who you are, but I’m saying that going abroad does offer us the opportunity to explore different sides of ourselves since no one you’re going to meet knows who you were before anyway.

The old adage tends to be to pack, then take away half the clothes and add twice the money. I think this is true to a certain extent, but there are ways of being budget conscious. For one, make food in your dorm room whenever you can, or at your apartment. I typically ate out on the weekend then cooked for myself during the week, and that kept costs down.

Just go for it if you’re thinking of it. In the end, even if you don’t like it, it’s easier to stomach the things that we did but weren’t for us, then the things we didn’t do, and aren’t sure if they would have changed our lives.

I know studying abroad changed my life, and very much for the better, so go and see if the same is true for you.

Visit Christopher Mitchell’s website

Hard question! I am originally from Russia, but I have been studying abroad in the United States for the last 6 years. (that’s still considered studying abroad, right?) First time I went to study abroad in high school. I had one little suitcase that was supposed to be enough for a full year abroad. After that, I studied abroad in college when I returned to the States once again, but for a much longer time. While I was a college student in the United States, I studied abroad in Spain for 6 months! First time I went abroad, I won a free study abroad year in a competition, after that it was hard to stop! I looked for scholarships and colleges that would provide free study abroad and I was lucky enough to find them! I love travelling to a new place, meeting new people and learning new languages and cultures. That’s why I am constantly studying abroad and loving it! Living out of the suitcase is my natural state now!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

Some of the most useful things I bring when I study abroad:

I try to take as little as I can when I go, especially because I love going shopping in new countries and tend to not fit everything in my bag on the way back. That’s why I try to take only the essentials when I travel.

But, I always take my camera with me for all the amazing moments I am going to have. I also always take unusual food or souvenirs from my country – it’s always fun to surprise people with food they never tried.

Most useless: books. They take up space, weigh a ton, and I never have time to read when I am travelling. Just bring an Ipad or a laptop!

How do you bring things with you?

I never have enough room in my suitcase! Especially if I go for such a long period of time. I try to take things that are unusual, clothes that I won’t find abroad. I can always find a new pair of jeans in a different country, so I try to only bring my favorites and things that are special. I try to have one big suitcase and I don’t really have a favorite brand. But, I definitely like suitcases that have four wheels and are not hardbacks.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

Go out for walks and meet new people! Experience as much as you can, as you never know when you will be back. All of the experiences, even the bad ones will be great stories someday. Do practice common sense though and always remember cultural norms of the country you are at.

Take only things you know you will not be able to find anywhere else. You will be able to fit more on your way back.

Visit Marina’s website

Devin Hänel

I´m Devin from Germany and 18 years old.

I start my blog in 2016 because my dream was that I make an exchange year in Sweden. My problem was that I don´t have a host family and many other peoples too. The end of the story was, that I can´t go too Sweden for one year.

Now I´m in Germany and I write about travel and other themes.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all students studying abroad bring?

What I can say is, you have a big dream. You have a plan. One year in another country, but don´t forget, that you can become problems before you go.

It can be very hard not to realize your dream but try again later. That’s what I intend to do when I finish the school.

How do you bring things with you?

I´m the type: bigger is better. I am who loves clothes and almost always takes everything with me. It definitely has to be a big suitcase. My backpack is also not exactly small, I have the bare essentials to spontaneously do something.

The most important thing in my backpack is getting change shirt, painkillers, drinking and my phone charging cable.

What are your top tips for other students studying abroad?

My top tips are…. be yourself, think of possible obstacles and feel free. Listen to yourself and do not let others influence your decisions. You go, you choose.

Be spontaneous and go camping with your friends. You get out of your home and can really feel free. That’s exactly what I did recently.

What is also very nice are day trips to other cities or countries.

Use your time well.

Visit Devin Hänel’s website

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