Packing for China!

Alexis Cobau
August 23, 2013

My first experience with study abroad was when I became a recipient of the State Department NSLI-Y scholarship. On this scholarship, I spent the summer between my junior and senior year of high school studying Mandarin Chinese in Harbin, a city in the North of China. I lived with a host family and was completely immersed in Chinese language and culture 24/7. It was simultaneously the best and most challenging experience of my life and was powerful enough to convince me that Chinese was indeed what I wanted to spend my college career (and life!) learning.

As I have experience in China, I thought it might also be helpful for people studying abroad in China in the future to include a list of things that I have found indispensable (or a complete waste of space!) while packing for China!

Leave at home:

  • large amounts of any kind of toiletries, including your favorite shampoo/conditioner, etc. These are not wise to bring for many reasons (weight, possibility of leakage, etc) and it’s pretty easy to find something comparable in China. Many brands of hair care products, such as pantene and herbal essence, exist in China.
  • That extra piece of luggage. Americans are notorious for overpacking and while you may feel more reassured packing more than less, you’ll thank yourself when you have one less piece of luggage to carry around. Don’t pack more than you can carry/take care of on your own.
  • Personal appliances, such as fans, hair dryers, hair straighteners, etc. These are plentiful and cheap in China and you risk ruining your favorite appliance if you forget to also use a voltage converter!

Don’t forget!

  • Shoes! If you’re like me and have relatively large feet for a woman (size 9) you’re going to be hard pressed to find shoes in your size. Make sure you bring shoes that are versatile and can be used in many different situations. This is also important for guys with larger feet as well.
  • Voltage converter. If you have an electronic device that you know you are going to be using in China, a plug adapter as well as a voltage converter is necessary (outlets in the US have a voltage of 110 while Chia typically has 220).
  • Over the counter medicine. If you’re prone to cramps or headaches, it’s best to stock up on advil/ibuprofen before you go to China, as it can be difficult or a hassle to procure comparable medicines.


Of course, some of these suggestions are applicable to international travel nearly anywhere, not just China! Did I miss anything? What are your tips/tricks for packing for international travel? Let me know in the comments below and good luck packing!

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Alexis Cobau

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexis Cobau is a Junior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Chinese and International Studies with a concentration in International security, cooperation and norms. She is excited to be returning to China for the first time since her original foray into study abroad in Harbin, China on an NSLI-Y State Department scholarship as a rising senior in High School. This will be her sixth year studying Chinese and she can&#39;t wait to spend it exploring Beijing. When not practicing her Chinese characters and tones, Alexis enjoys reading, writing, drawing and cooking.</span></p>

2013 Fall
Home University:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Asian Studies
International Studies
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