Updated on February 18, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
What should I bring on my Study Abroad trip?
We believe studying abroad is one of the most beneficial experiences possible for a college student. By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to take in a new culture, see the world and find new passions.
No doubt, preparing to go abroad as a student can be challenging (or daunting!), so we’ve put together a list of what to pack, and more importantly, what NOT to pack before you study abroad.
What to Pack for Studying Abroad – 17 Essentials
3) Apps – While you won’t necessarily pack them, certain apps will help ease your transition abroad and help you get where you need to go out there. Maps.me will let you download maps of particular areas (and whole countries!) for free, so that you can use them offline. Apps like google translate can help you break through that language barrier. Messaging apps like Line and Whatsapp will let you text and call home for free. Do some research and find out what apps have been proven helpful for the country you’re moving to!
5) International phone plan (or country-specific SIM card) – Ask your carrier about the most economical international phone plan for you. It might be worth it to buy a SIM card in your destination country (super cheap in Asia and Europe), and ditch your old number for a while.
13) Physical map – It is infinitely helpful to print-out a map and the name (in the local language) of the location you’ll be staying at on your first night. It takes the stress out of trying to communicate with a cab driver who doesn’t speak your language right when you get off of an eight hour plane ride!
Other study abroad packing list items not to forget
What to wear while studying abroad:
What you should wear obviously depends on the country you’ll be studying in, and the prominent religion there. Definitely spend some time researching your destination’s cultural norms and weather forecast before deciding what to pack. A quick Google search of “what to wear in Berlin”, for example, should answer any questions you may have.
What NOT to bring while studying abroad
2) Too many clothes/ shoes – You’ll probably want to buy things while you’re there. Bring dual-purpose, neutral-colored clothing that you can mix and match.
3) Culturally inappropriate clothing – You’ll get stared down (and lose respect) for wearing a tank top in countries like Myanmar where it’s unacceptable to show your shoulders. Research, research, research!
5) Non-compatible electronic items – The voltage system in your new country might fry your hair straighteners, blow dryers, etc. It’s better just to buy those things in-country or bring extra adaptors.
6) More than one full suitcase – Remember to leave space so that you can bring home souvenirs!
FAQs about studying abroad
1) Why should I study abroad?
You can work towards your education goals while you see the world and dive head-first into a new culture. What’s not to love? You might also make lifelong friends, pick up a new language, and stand out on grad school applications!
2) Where will I live while I’m abroad?
It depends on the city you’ll be studying in. Some foreign academies have on-campus housing (dormitory or apartment style), while other programs will offer to book off-campus housing for you. Check with your specific program as soon as you’re accepted.
3) What will it be like going to school in a different country?
It will likely be scary at first (navigating a new city to your new classes with new teachers and friends!), but then awesome and life changing.
4) Can I travel during my program, or have friends or family come visit me?
During my time abroad, our school gave us plenty of three day weekends to travel. We also took lots of traveling field trips as a class! It obviously depends on your school, and how strict/ lenient their policies are. As far as I know, friends and family are usually very welcome to visit your campus while abroad!
5) What travel documents will I need before I leave?
Passport, student visa (if necessary), copies of health insurance, travel insurance, state ID/ drivers license, medical and vaccine history (just in case), and plane tickets.
6) How much does it cost?
It totally depends on your program. Check with your school and see if your tuition covers your time abroad!
7) How can I better deal with culture shock before I leave?
It helps to do a ton of research about the place, and look at plenty of travel blogs. Learn a few phrases in the local language, and maybe try some new foods from the place you’re going to. If possible, ask your university to put you in touch with somebody who has studied abroad with your program before you go!