Overpacking is something that everyone will warn you about before studying abroad and I did not listen. Before my study abroad began, I planned all sorts of different outfits that I wanted to wear in pictures and during trips. I ended up planning so many outfits in my head that I needed to bring that I completely forgot about all of the other essentials that needed to be packed as well. Because I was not thinking as clearly as I should have been, I ended up packing the “picture outfits” without fully understanding that I was also going to need to bring jackets, scarves, winter hats, bags, and so much more.
My first month abroad was a dream. I wore all my picture outfits and got to wear my long beach dresses in Marseille. I was living the life all the way up until October when the temperature started to drop, and I realized that I was in dire need of sweaters—but I didn’t pack any. I also started to come down with a very bad cold in early November and needed Advil—which I forgot to pack as well. Mid-November I went to London to visit my friends, and I ended up dropping both of my contacts so I had to use my spare contacts that I brought on the trip. I came back home to find that those spare contacts were the last contacts that I had for study abroad. I could have packed more before leaving—but I was recklessly packing with the wrong intentions.
Before studying abroad, you will begin planning what you’re going to do during your months away, and you may also begin planning your outfits for different occasions abroad. But you must be honest with yourself about what you actually need to bring. Also, keep in mind that you will also be shopping while you’re away and will need space for the clothes you buy abroad on your way back home. Therefore, make sure that you do not prioritize packing you're going out tops as opposed to all of your medication, contact solution, and glasses. Make sure you leave room for some sneakers as opposed to your heels for those fancy dinners you’re planning. And most importantly, think about things logistically because I wish I had done this. Once you arrive at your housing abroad, are your parents coming with you to carry everything for you, or are you arriving alone and managing all of your luggage by yourself? A lot of people have parents coming to help them move in and carry everything, but I personally did not, which made me have to throw away a lot of items that I brought abroad because I had to bring even more stuff back and my suitcases were too heavy. If I could go abroad all over again, I would have never brought 4 big bottles of lotion as opposed to sweaters and extra contacts (which all got thrown away at the airport on the way back home).
At the end of the day, necessities are different for everyone—just make sure that you pack each of your necessities before thinking about your outfits for pictures.
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My name is Alicia Strader and I am currently a junior at Fordham University. I am an International Studies major and I have a minor in the French language. I enjoy reading, socializing with my friends, and trying new restaurants.